Undergraduate student funding

NSFAS & UCT Financial Assistance

As of 1 August 2016, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) opened its student-centred application model. First-time applications for financial aid, as well as funding renewal for those students who are already recipients of NSFAS funding, will be handled centrally via NSFAS. Although applicants may have applied to multiple institutions for admission to study, only one financial aid application directly to NSFAS will be required.

In December 2017, the President announced an increase in the NSFAS financial eligibility criteria for first time entering students (FTENS) effective from 2018. The gross income cut-off is R350 000 gross family income pa and R600 000 for applicants with a disability. The funding provision from NSFAS changed from a loan to a grant effective from 2018.

All students and learners who need financial assistance should apply to NSFAS through the NSFAS Online Application system.


UCT has additional funding programmes to assist students; GAP funding and Sibling rebate Bursary – for those not eligible for NSFAS. Applicants/Students with an unsuccessful NSFAS application status on R350 000 gross income eligibility can contact the Student Financial Aid office for a GAP funding application.  Kindly read the detailed information provided on all UCT's financial assistance programmes and the general rules and policies that apply (see columns on the left).

The process for the various NSFAS categories of application is outlined below:

For all first-time student applicants

All learners (potential first year students) applying to study next year are required to apply directly to NSFAS. Applications normally open from 1 September annually and close before your admission and registration as a student. It is important to monitor the NSFAS website and social media platforms for details on when the application process opens and closes, as these dates change annually. Please start the application process early to ensure that you are aware of and can gather the necessary documentation to submit the application on time.

Do not wait for an academic admission decision to apply to NSFAS, as the NSFAS application process is likely to close before admissions decisions are finalised.

For all currently registered students (at any institution) already funded by NSFAS

Academic eligibility renewal criteria will be applied to check the student's eligibility for renewal, and you will be informed of whether you still meet the requirements for continued funding. The MyNSFAS portal also provides details on the status of funding renewal.

For currently registered students intending to apply for NSFAS funding for the first time

Students not currently funded by NSFAS may apply for funding, if they think their current sponsors may not renew their funding, or if their parents/guardians has/had a change in their financial circumstances and therefore now meet eligibility criteria. For students in this category, NSFAS applications period is the same as for new students. Students are encouraged to ensure they submit their NSFAS online applications before the closing date.

Student on a gap year of NSFAS funding

Students that had a gap year in NSFAS funding for any number of reasons, must reapply to NSFAS for funding during their application window, no appeal for funding will be considered if an application was not submitted.

Students transferring to UCT

NSFAS only funds students within the N+1 rule. Students that transfer to UCT must ensure that they have sufficient funding years left to complete the qualification at UCT. Note that no appeal will be entertained if funding is lost on this basis.

All years of study/registration at any tertiary institution is counted towards the N+1 rule, irrespective of the source of financing for those years.

Late applications

Applications will not be accepted after the closing date, and it is therefore important that you get your application in on time. Late applications will not be considered. Applications open and close the year prior to your registration year, so keep checking the NSFAS website and social media platforms for their application opening and closing dates - 

Basic eligibility criteria applied:

  1. Must be a South African citizen or SA permanent resident.
  2. Studying for a first undergraduate qualification.
    1. No Post Graduate qualifications are funded.
    2. No second degrees/ qualification are funded, including LAWP01.
    3. No Advanced Diplomas are funded, including the PGCE.
  3. Must meet financial eligibility criteria.

How and where to apply

Go to the NSFAS website to register on the MyNSFAS portal and complete your online application Once submitted NSFAS will provide an application reference number. If you receive no application reference number, it means that the application has not been submitted:

The NSFAS contact details are outlined below should you require assistance with your application or visit your closest tertiary institution's Financial Aid Office for further assistance.

Toll free Number: 0860 0067 327

Email: Info@NSFAS.org.za

We encourage applicants to print a copy of their NSFAS online application and keep a record of all supporting documents in case they are required later. Also check your email account regularly for correspondence from NSFAS and UCT.

NB. All applicants that apply online to NSFAS must make sure that they receive an application reference number after the application is submitted. Your application has not submitted successfully if you do not receive an application reference number.