'Student aid fund being defrauded'

The Higher Education Dept says some students are making false claims of poverty.

A group of students at the University of Johannesburg protest the lack of NSFAS funding in January. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Higher Education and Training says some students are making false claims to defraud the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Members of Parliament (MPs) were briefed on the state of government funding for students' tertiary studies in Parliament on Tuesday.

Director General Gwebs Qonde says many students come from families able to foot at least some of the bill, but lie about their circumstances in order to qualify for funding.

"You'd have one student with both parents working, earning quite a decent salary, but upon registration they claim they're being raised by grandma or grandpa."

He says fraud is rampant and this puts genuinely needy students at a disadvantage.

"There's a lot of defrauding in the system. It disadvantages those who are really in need of this money."

Student funding has more than tripled, from just over R3 billion in 2009 to R9.5 billion this year.

But NSFAS CEO Msulwa Daca says this figure is still not enough as only one in two eligible students can be funded.

"The core challenge is that we cannot fund every student that applies for funding"