The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has approved tertiary education funding for over 160 000 students to study across the country’s 26 universities.

The last reported number of applications received were from last year’s application window, with 129 382 online and 104 088 manual applications sent in.

NSFAS said it has already paid R1.3 billion to the universities to advance payment of registration fees for students from disadvantaged backgrounds so that they can be admitted for their studies.

“This payment equates to at least 15% of total and final budget that each university may get for enrolling students, who are eligible for government funding when a final reconciliation of the numbers of enrolled students is confirmed at the end of the registration period,” NSFAS said.

In total, the Department of Higher Education and Training made R15.2 billion had been allocated to the scheme for this year.

“All returning students, who were funded in 2016, should not panic as they will automatically be funded in 2017 without having to apply for financial aid, provided they have signed the agreement form for financial assistance and they have passed at least 50% of their enrolled modules,” said NSFAS spokesperson, Kagisho Mamabolo.

“There will not be any student turned away, who has secured space, because of lack of funding.”

Applications for funding to study at university have closed, but those still keen on studying at TVET Colleges have until 14th February to apply online or at their nearest NSFAS centre.

NSFAS management is expected to address the nation on the 2017 financial aid statistics awarded to students at universities and TVET colleges by next week.