Funding Sources Apart From NSFAS

A student loan can be obtained when one’s sponsor has a valid prove of income, such as a payslip, showing that the loan will be repaid from a specific stream of income during the allocated time.


By Gaby Ndongo (4 mins read)
Content revised and republished on Monday, 13th January 2020

You have worked hard to qualify for varsity, just to find out at the beginning of the year that you are not eligible for NSFAS funding or your guardians current financial stance doesn’t allow them to settle you tertiary education costs.

According to Stats SA, a total of 51% South Africa’s youth, ages 18 to 24, do not have the financial means to pay for their tertiary tuition.

Below are some of the other funding methods to support you through this financially tiring journey known as tertiary education.

Your institution’s internal funding

UJ, for example, offers Merit Bursaries. It is awarded based on APS scores for first-year students, and one’s previous academic year results for returning students. The money is directly deposited into your tuition account.

So, check it out at the student finance office before the second semester starts.


You can use a platform such as Feenix. It “provides a tool for students to formalise their fundraising efforts and a channel for funders to find students they want to support,” said Angelique Arde, senior reporter at Business Times Money.

“All bona fide donations are deductible from the donor’s income in terms of section 18A of the Income Tax Act, provided the donor is not the parent of the student they are funding,” she added.

Donating to a public benefit organisation, like Feenix, results in tax deduction for the donor.

Student loan

A student loan can be obtained when one’s sponsor has a valid prove of income, such as a payslip, showing that the loan will be repaid from a specific stream of income during the allocated time.

An acceptance letter or registration document from your institution is one thing that you must have when seeking for a student loan.

The payment is broken down into payable interests when studying and then the capital once you have graduated.

The best thing to do will be to compare and contrast student loans offered by all the major commercial banks: Absa, Standard Bank, FNB, Ned Bank and Capitec. Then decide on the more affordable one.

Work after matric and save money for your studies 

GRAD, a booklet for tertiary students, advises that you consider student loans as “a last resort if all other options have been exhausted (including working immediately after school and delaying your studies).

“Think carefully before you decide to take a student loan, as it will have long-term consequences,” the booklet explained. “If you miss one or more payments, it will affect your credit rating.”

photo by waqas saeed on unsplash
A part-time job at the coffee job will help. Photo by Waqas Saeed on Unsplash.

A part-time job on- or off-campus

The campus theatre may be employing people for this year. Or a private tutoring company could be in need of several tutors for one or two subjects you did in high school.

Look around for these employment options to have a consistent stream of income that will help you pay (part of) your tuition fees while studying. The other part can be settled by your guardian or a merit bursary.

External bursaries

These are excluding all the merit bursaries and scholarships from your institution of study.

Bursaries usually consider financial need, demand excellent marks and for the beneficiary to work for the sponsor after studying. They are non-repayable.

Some are tailored for specific purposes. For instance, the Disability Bursary Programme only funds those whom are disabled.

The National Department of Social Development covers the costs of one studying social work, and the Funza Lushaka Bursary is for people enrolling for a “teaching qualification in an area of national priority, according to Pheto Ramakobya of Move! magazine.

Depending on the allocated funds of a bursary, various expenses (tuition fees, books, accommodation, study materials) of student life can be covered. A must for most is the tuition fees.

Furthermore, make sure you know what a bursary covers before signing any agreements, said GRAD. For the fact that you will need to work for your sponsor, try your best to obtain a bursary from an entity that will facilitate your growth.


Learnerships take about 12 to 24 months to complete, get a registered qualification and possibly end up with a secured employment. They are only offered to people between the ages of 16 to 60.

Learnerships are good for those who prefer the theory-meets-practice alternative. From this option, some of the gains include knowledge, skills and workplace experience.

photo obtained from pexels
Apprenticeships involves practical skills and work experience among other things. Photo obtained from Pexels.


They are provided to improve a person’s practical skills within a certain profession through work experience. An employer affords the platform for a period between three to four years.

The apprentice is paid a reasonable income and obtains an internationally recognised trade certificate at the end of the program.


Stellar marks or sport rankings can get you a scholarship, which is mostly sponsored by a company. This form of funding requires one to maintain a specific score for each module (for example, 65% per module), and it is non-repayable.

Despite the last part, the need to get the prescribed grades can be pressure on your neck but at times also a form of motivation.

You don’t need to work for the sponsor and scholarships usually cover all expenses.

Tips from GRAD

  • Be aware of the application deadline;
  • Know the method (online or post) of applying;
  • Note down all the requested documents, such as ID, and mark them once you have submitted;
  • Keep extra copies of each document in case anything goes wrong;
  • Constantly check your application status;
  • Revisit the terms and conditions, as well as the agreement of your funding method. TOJ

Some resources





Writing by Gaby Ndongo. Feature image obtained from Pexels.

4 comments on “Funding Sources Apart From NSFAS”

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