NSFAS fails to pay student allowances on time, blames technical glitch

Some NSFAS beneficiaries have not received their payouts this month, allegedly due to a technical glitch.
Some NSFAS beneficiaries have not received their payouts this month, allegedly due to a technical glitch.
Image: Picture: 123RF/97207521

University students are fuming after the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) failed to pay them their allowances on Thursday. 

NSFAS beneficiaries were eagerly awaiting to be paid their living, incidental and travel allowances of R1, 650, R305 and R780 respectively. 

The financial aid scheme said in a statement on Thursday night that it will be paying allowances to students through its direct payment system on Friday.

"The scheme had a technical glitch resulting in the non-payment of allowances today. However, this has been fixed, and NSFAS will effect payment by midnight for the amount to reflect in the beneficiaries' account on September 1." 

It apologised "for this unfortunate moment", saying it completely understood "the inconvenience this delay will cause our beneficiaries". 

"We will always try our best [to] ensure that this never occurs going forward."   

North West University (NWU) spokesman, Louis Jacobs, said it came to their attention that students did not receive their allowances although an NWU task team was assured on Tuesday that payments would be made on time. 

"NSFAS did not notify the NWU or the service provider, Norraco, that there could be a delay in payments," he said.  

Since June, fintech companies, eZaga, Coinvest Africa, Norraco Corporation and Tenet Technology, which were contracted by NSFAS, have been paying the allowances on the last day of the month. 

The entities were awarded the direct payment system contracts, which has come under fire from students who have complained about the excessive transaction charges that are being levied. 

The four entities charge NSFAS beneficiaries a standard monthly fee of R12 for administration costs, which excludes other transaction costs such as ATM withdrawals, card swipes and the fee for replacing lost cards. 

An ATM withdrawal costs R10 plus R2.50 for every R100 withdrawn. 

Meanwhile, William Sezoe, vice-chairman of the student representative council at Stellenbosch University, slammed the financial aid scheme for failing to pay the allowances to students.  

"It’s totally unacceptable. There was no transparency or communication from NSFAS on when students will be receiving their allowances."

He said before the new system was implemented, students started receiving their allowances from universities from the 21st to 25th of the month. 

"NSFAS must really account for the fact that their governance structures are not proper and effective." 

Sezoe said students were suffering because they are without food, adding: "There’s no way you can expect these students to go to class on an empty stomach."

He lodged a complaint with the Public Protector in July against NSFAS' direct payment system.