The recent implementation of a new allowance payment system by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has sparked significant worries among students. Over the past two weeks, students at a Limpopo college have been engaged in protests, highlighting their concerns regarding delayed allowance payments.
Students from both campuses of Waterberg Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in Mokopane, Limpopo, have experienced disruptions due to allowance payment delays. These students have taken to the streets for a second consecutive week to express their frustrations regarding the NSFAS allowance
Delay in Allowances
Protesting students have been vocal about not having received their NSFAS allowances for the past six months. Furthermore, a number of these students have been defunded by NSFAS, leaving them burdened with covering tuition, living expenses, and essential items necessary for their college journey.
Impact on Academics and Strike Initiation
The financial stress resulting from these delays has taken a toll on students’ academic focus, ultimately leading to their decision to initiate a strike. Students claim that the college management even went so far as to threaten expulsion if the strike continued.
NSFAS’s Response and Direct Payment System
NSFAS has stated that students will only receive their allowances once registration data is received from the institution. This data is then forwarded to service providers who facilitate the direct payment onboarding process.
Concerns About Direct Payment System
Waterberg TVET College students have voiced their concerns about the user-friendliness and susceptibility to fraudulent activities associated with the NSFAS direct allowance payment system. Issues such as disruptions in financial transactions and the inability to track transactions have been reported.
Funding Issues and Bank Fees
The ongoing funding issues have prompted students to raise concerns about excessive bank fees imposed by service providers designated by NSFAS. Comparisons made by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) reveal that the NSFAS bank account fees surpass those charged by established banks.
Investigation and Future Steps
More than 25% of NSFAS-funded students have faced delays in receiving their allowances. In response to these issues, NSFAS has committed to thorough investigations and indicated that appropriate actions will be taken if the allegations are substantiated. Additionally, they have advised service providers to increase their presence at educational institutions to assist students with challenges related to direct allowance payments.
In conclusion, the introduction of the new allowance payment system by NSFAS has led to student protests and concerns regarding delayed payments, the direct payment system’s effectiveness, and excessive bank fees. These issues underscore the need for swift resolutions to ensure that students can focus on their education without financial stress.
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