Does NSFAS Fund Postgraduate?

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) stands as a cornerstone of educational accessibility in South Africa, providing vital support to millions of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. While NSFAS historically extended its assistance to postgraduate studies, recent policy changes have raised questions about the availability of funding for advanced degrees. This article delves into the intricacies of NSFAS’s postgraduate funding policies, explores the implications of recent developments, and highlights alternative avenues for aspiring postgraduate students.

Evolution of NSFAS Postgraduate Funding

Historical Support: NSFAS historically covered a range of postgraduate courses, including specialized fields such as architecture, biotechnology, engineering, and healthcare.

Criteria for Funding: Eligibility for postgraduate funding often depended on factors such as the professional relevance of the qualification and financial need.

Shift in Policy: In the 2021 academic year, NSFAS announced a significant policy change, discontinuing funding for all postgraduate qualifications, including certificates, diplomas, honours degrees, master’s degrees, and PhD programs.

NSFAS Postgraduate Funding 2024

Implications of NSFAS Policy Change

Access to Higher Education: The withdrawal of postgraduate funding has raised concerns about equitable access to advanced education for students from low-income backgrounds.

Impact on Career Development: The absence of financial support may hinder the pursuit of postgraduate qualifications essential for career advancement and specialized professions.

Role of National Research Foundation (NRF): NSFAS redirected postgraduate students to seek funding from the NRF, emphasizing the importance of research and postgraduate training for national development. Also, check How To Appeal For NSFAS?

Alternative Funding Options

Fundi: Offering education loans covering various expenses, including registration fees, outstanding balances, accommodation, and study-related costs.

Student Loans: Banks and private financial institutions provide flexible loan options tailored to students’ needs, offering another avenue for funding postgraduate studies.

Feenix: A student fundraising program aimed at reducing the burden of student debt and facilitating access to education by leveraging community support.

Considerations for Aspiring Postgraduate Students:

Research Funding Opportunities:

Prospective postgraduate students should explore grants and scholarships offered by academic institutions, research organizations, and government agencies.

Financial Planning:

Given the absence of NSFAS support, careful financial planning is crucial for navigating the costs associated with postgraduate studies, including tuition, living expenses, and research-related expenses.

Advocacy and Policy Engagement:

Students, advocacy groups, and educational stakeholders can advocate for policy changes to enhance access to postgraduate funding for disadvantaged students.


While NSFAS’s decision to discontinue postgraduate funding represents a significant shift in policy, alternative avenues exist for aspiring postgraduate students to pursue advanced education. By exploring alternative funding options, engaging in financial planning, and advocating for policy changes, students can overcome financial barriers and access the educational opportunities essential for personal growth and national development.

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