During each funding cycle, students who have been assessed as unsuccessful by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme get an opportunity to lodge an appeal disputing the decision. However, many students have experienced difficulties navigating the appeals system.
The bursary scheme allows students to lodge appeals within 30 days of having been assessed as unsuccessful. According the Nsfas, during the 2022 academic year, the bursary scheme approved a total of 46,070 applications for students who submitted appeals.
This included 18,424 appeals from continuing students and a further 27,646 appeals from new applicants.
The scheme also reported that it rejected a total of 17,838 appeals and that 10,755 appeals are currently being processed.
Regarding appeals with the status “Appeal in the process of being finalized,” Nsfas says that more than 5000 continuing student appeals are currently awaiting updated academic results from institutions.
These results are expected to support the student’s appeal that they have met the required academic eligibility criteria.
Furthermore, the scheme says another 5000 appeals are still awaiting supporting documentation before Nsfas teams can process the appeals.
Many students have voiced concerns about difficulties when trying to upload the required documents as they were receiving error codes.
In response, the scheme acknowledged that due to the Nsfas ICT department decommissioning the student portal in September 2022 these applicants were unable to provide the required documentation.
Nsfas says the ICT department is in the process of providing a viable solution in this regard.
“The greatest risk in this area is potential litigation if appeals are closed, therefore, it is prudent to keep all appeals received open so that information can be processed once it uploaded and received,” says Nsfas.
Due to the flaws with the appeals system, additional challenges were also discovered during the 2022 appeals process NYSC.
Students frequently claimed to have submitted information to Nsfas, but this information is not always visible to the processing teams which further delayed student appeal outcomes.
With several new policy changes and amendments, Nsfas aims for a “hassle-free” 2023 academic year.