Unisa Bursaries Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Unisa Bursaries Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

Who qualifies for financial aid and what are the criteria? Financially needy and academically deserving students.
What does it cover? Study fees and academic essentials such as prescribed books and stationery.  No accommodation, meals, pocket money or transport is covered.
Is it renewable? Yes, on proof of academic progress and subject to the availability of funds. Only students who have applied are considered for re-awards.
Does the student need surety to qualify for a loan? No surety is required.
What documents are required to support an application? Certified copies of the applicant’s ID and proof of income such as a payslip, pension slip, an affidavit stating source of income, or a letter from an employer where no payslip is available.
Can the student apply at UNISA for financial assistance to study at another university? No, each higher education institution has its own financial aid office for its own students.
Is the loan transferable? No, it can only be used in one academic year at one particular institution.
What happens to unutilised credit in a student’s account? Any unutilised funds are returned to the donor to reduce the loan amount or to serve as repayment.
What other financial options/packages are available? They are:

  • Department of Labour (DOL) – for students with disabilities
  • Margaret Orr – for black female students under 35 years of age
  • UNISA postgraduate bursaries – for Master’s degrees by full research and doctoral studies
  • Club bursaries – for paid-up members of certain consumer clubs, e.g. HomeChoice and JD Group.  Application available in club magazines
  • Funza Lushaka Bursary for Teaching Profession
  • Social Development Bursary for Social Work Profession
  • BestMed bursary for nursing students
  • Old Mutual bursary for finance, agriculture and law students (best academic performers are selected)
  • Unisa Fundation Bursaries
  • Edu-Loan
What is the difference between a loan and a bursary? A loan is repayable with interest and a bursary is non-repayable, being awarded on academic merit.
Where can students hand in their completed application forms? At any of UNISA’s regional offices, (Student Administration section), or DSF on the Pretoria or Florida campus.
When can a student expect an outcome for the first registration period? Students who do not meet donor criteria will be informed before registration (except for academic requirements). Once applications have been captured, they cannot be processed if students have not temporarily registered.  Students are urged to do so as soon as registration opens as students will be informed on a weekly basis (during registration) on whether their application for funding was successful.
Can a student be funded for short courses? Only formal qualifications, e.g. national diplomas and degrees, are funded. Short courses and certificate programmes do not qualify for funding.
What is the interest rate payable? NSFAS does not lend money to students in order to make a profit.  Loans are made at a rate far lower than that charged by financial institutions such as banks.  Interest varies each year.
When can a student start repaying a loan? A loan is repayable as soon as a student secures employment (irrespective of whether the qualification is completed or not) and earning an annual salary of R26 300 or more.  Arrangements for repayment can be made directly with NSFAS at (021) 763-3232 and not at DSF.
How is it repayable? Repayments can either be deducted from the student’s salary or be made by means of debit order. Alternatively, the money can be deposited directly into the NSFAS account.
Will the University require money before allowing a student to register? Upon application a student is required to be the minimum administrative fee for application. Upon registration a student will be asked whether he/she has applied for funding, and the University will ONLY register the student temporarily.  Full registration will be affected once the application is processed.
Will a student who is originally from Malawi qualify for financial assistance? If you have obtained South African citizenship you will qualify for funding. Proof should be submitted.
When is the closing date for the first registration cycle? Applications for 1st semester close on 30 September of each year.

Fundza Lushaka Bursary Programme

  1. What is the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme?
    It is a multi-year programme that has been launched in 2007 to promote teaching in public schools as the career of choice for able and committed South Africans. Full-cost bursaries are available to enable eligible students to complete a full teaching qualification in an area of national priority. Recipients of a Funza Lushaka bursary are required to teach in a provincial education department for the same number of years that they received the bursary. If a student does not want to accept the conditions of this bursary, the bursary is converted into a loan which is repayable with interest.

Roles and responsibilities

  1. How are roles and responsibilities for the Funza Lushaka programme divided?
    This is a national programme which is run locally at each higher education institution (HEI). It is funded by National Treasury and executed by the Department of Education (DoE).
    The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) administers the programme on behalf of DoE through the Student Financial Aid office at each HEI.
    Eligible students must meet the admission criteria of the academic programme at the HEI to which they apply, and must meet the national selection criteria for the Funza Lushaka bursary. Selection of bursars is undertaken at each HEI in accordance with the selection criteria and the funds allocated to each HEI for the programme.
    Once qualified, bursary recipients are employed by a provincial education department. Applications and eligibility.

Applications and eligibility

  1. Where are application forms available?
    Students apply online at www.funzalushaka.doe.gov.za(new window)
  2. Where can prospective students find out more about the bursary programme?
    Students can visit the Funza Lushaka website or contact the Funding Advisor at the respective Unisa regional offices.
  3. How does an institution determine whether a student’s academic programme complies with the priority areas selection criterion?
    The bursary programme is designed to boost recruitment into teaching, especially in priority areas. 6.
  4. What are the priority areas?
    Grades R-9: Foundation Phase; African Languages; English Language; Mathematics; Natural Science; Technology.
    Grades 10-12: African Languages; English Language; Mathematics; Mathematical Literacy; Agricultural Sciences; Life Sciences; Physical Science; Agricultural, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Information Technology and Computer Applications Technology; Engineering Graphics and Design.
  5. What programmes will be funded?
    Foundation phase (Grade R-3)
    Foundation phase specialization
    InterMediate phase (Grade 4-6) & Senior phase (Grade 7-9)
    • African languages
    • English language
    • Mathematics
    • Natural Sciences
    • Technology

FET phase (Grade 10-12)

    • African languages
    • Agricultural Sciences
    • Agricultural Technology
    • Civil Technology
    • Computer Applications Technology
    • Electrical Technology
    • Engineering Graphics and Design
    • English Language
    • Information Technology
    • Life Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Mathematical Literacy
    • Mechanical Technology
    • Physical Sciences
  1. Are there official quotas for the distribution of bursaries by programme, year of study or priority area?
    No, the amount of bursaries awarded is determined by the amount of funding available.
  2. Are first-year students eligible?
    Yes, first-year students in the appropriate programmes are eligible.
  3. Are ACE (Advanced Certificate in Education) students eligible?
    No. Bursaries are available only for the initial professional education of teachers.
  4. Are distance education and part-time students eligible for a bursary?
    Yes, provided they are eligible in all other respects.
  5. Are recipients of other bursaries eligible to apply for a Fundza Lushaka bursary?
    Yes, if they are eligible in other respects and the terms and conditions of the other bursary permit such an application. The intention of the Funza Lushaka programme is to secure candidates for the teaching profession. A student who has been offered both a Funza Lushaka bursary and another bursary may choose to forfeit the other bursary or to accept a reduced Funza Lushaka bursary with reduced service obligations. Selection matters
  6. Will late applications be considered?
    No late applications will be considered.
  7. How much is a Funza Lushaka bursary worth?
    Funza Lushaka bursaries cover all the recipient’s essential expenses.
  8. What does the bursary cover?
    Tuition, accommodation, books and monthly living expenses. Travelling costs at an economical rate may be included if students would otherwise not be able to accept the bursary.
  9. Can a student accept a bursary for fewer than the number of years required to complete a programme?
    Yes, provided that the bursary covers the year in which the teaching qualification is completed.
  10. Can a student accept less per annum than the total amount on offer?
    Yes. The recipient’s service obligations will then be reduced pro rata.
  11. If a student repeats a year will the bursary be paid for that extra year?
    The bursary period will be extended to cover one additional year in a degree programme or the time required for completion of one additional course in the PGCE programme. Only one such extension will be granted. Any additional time required will be at the recipient’s own cost.
  12. Who pays for costs incurred over and above the allocated bursary amount?
    The student.
  13. Is the bursary renewable?
    Yes, the bursary is awarded for one academic year at a time and on proof of academic success the bursary may be renewed each year until the recipient of the bursary has qualified as a teacher.

Service agreement

  1. Must the recipient of a bursary receive a copy of the service agreement?
    Yes. The agreement must be explained to the recipient before he or she signs it, and a signed copy must then be given to the recipient.
  2. For how many years will the recipient of a bursary be required to teach?
    Recipients of bursaries will be required to teach one year for every year for which they receive a bursary.
  3. If a student migrates from an NSFAS loan to a Funza Lushaka bursary will the years on the NSFAS loan become part of the service contract?
    No. The NSFAS loan and the bursary have different conditions.
  4. Who determines the placement of newly qualified teachers in terms of the programme?
    Qualified recipients of bursaries must apply for an appropriate public school position with the provincial education department (PED) of their choice. The PED concerned will determine whether there is a suitable post available. If there is not, the applicant will be offered employment in a PED that does have suitable vacancies. Offers of employment will be made subject to the Employment of Educators Act, 1998, and the South African Schools Act, 1996.
  5. Are Funza Lushaka bursary recipients eligible for SGB posts at public schools?
    Only when they have fulfilled their contractual obligations to a provincial education department.
  6. Are foreign students eligible for a Funza Lushaka bursary?
    No, NSFAS will not enter into a contract with a foreign student or a student that holds a temporary resident permit.