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NYDA welcomes decision to allocate close to R1bn to write off NSFAS debt

The Higher Education and Training Department's allocated R967 million to the scheme to settle historic debt owed to universities by over 52,000 students.

Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor updates media on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme applications for 2019. Picture: Lindsay Dentlinger/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has welcomed Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor's decision to allocate money to settle the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funded students’ historic debt.

The Higher Education and Training Department's allocated R967 million to the scheme to settle historic debt owed to universities by over 52,000 students.

The agency's Sifiso Mtsweni said: “The NYDA would like to commend the minister of higher education for taking such a bold step. We think it’s a step in the right direction and we think over 52,000 students will be able to get much-needed education, so that they’re able to change their lives for the better.”

LISTEN: Why govt is allocating almost R967m to write off NSFAS debt

WHO QUALIFIES?

The Department of Higher Education and Training clarified that students who registered for tertiary education over the last two years will not benefit from the allocation of R967 million.

This means the allocation announced on Sunday is specifically for students who were funded under the previous NSFAS scheme before improved funding started last year.

Now, this comes after years of student protests about poor and "missing middle" youths being kicked out of universities because they couldn't settle their debt.

The students have not been able to pay back the money after being required to settle their accounts through their own funding.

The department's director-general Gwebinkundla Qonde explained which students qualify for the funding.

“The students who are eligible are those who are in the system, who are continuing, who registered in 2017 and 2018 at the cap of R122,000 and as a result because the amount of money was not adequate to pay for the full cost of study [sic].”

He said students who registered last year and this year don't qualify.

"Those do not qualify because government is carrying the full cost of study for those students because the cap has been revised to R160,000."

Additional reporting by Mia Lindeque.

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