Cape Town – The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has reinstated 400 students out of 5 000 axed from the bursary scheme.
NSFAS said on Friday that it has reinstated more than 400 students whose bursaries were withdrawn earlier this year after verification showed they misrepresented their family household incomes.
NSFAS has been under pressure after it withdrew 5 000 bursaries from students after it was found they received financial assistance though their family income was above the R350 000 threshold.
Briefing the higher education portfolio committee, chief operating officer Nthuseng Mphahlele said as part of checking on students awarded bursaries, there were criteria they looked, for such as household income, and criteria were within the threshold for the academic year for the completion of studies.
“There were initially 5 200 students above the threshold,” Mphahlele said.
She said NSFAS verified the income declared by the students against information in the credit bureaus and further data from the SA Revenue Service.
Mphahlele said they had found inconsistencies in the income declared and information on the credit bureaus.
“In some instances the income would be in excess of a million,” she said.
She also said they were required in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, once they identified possible irregularity in funding a student not meeting the criteria, to stop the funding and inform the affected student.
Mphahlele said affected students were urged to submit information to disapprove the findings of the verification, but they got few responses.
“We followed up with another process that was formal in that students should appeal or submit written motivation with additional information to demonstrate whether there had been a change in household circumstances and the decision should be reviewed.
“We received only 944 petitions,” she said.
Mphahlele said after the reviews, there were 488 students where there was sufficient evidence on the change of family circumstances and the students were reinstated.
“The other 456 were rejected, either they did not submit or just sent letters not assisting the team to make a decision. The 488 students were approved, their funding reinstated and they would continue to receive funding as it was,” she added.