2 September 2022
Over 50,000 people – many of whom are university students - have signed a petition, imploring Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to increase their monthly allowance.
They want the current allowance of R1,500 to be increased to R2,000 to accommodate the increasing cost of basic essentials like groceries and toiletries.
Onthatile Mathonsi started the petition a week ago on Change.Org. “NSFAS students are currently receiving an allowance of R1,500 … This is not enough for students to meet their basic needs. We urge the Department of Higher Education to consider an increase of R500.”
Mathonsi, from Pretoria, is a second year law student at the University of the Western Cape. She told GroundUp that she spends about R700 on her monthly groceries.
She said her parents and family can’t help her financially so she solely relies on NSFAS every month. Though she qualifies for the additional R750 travel allowance as well, Mathonsi said it is not enough as many other students who don’t qualify have to use their living allowance on transport.
Another student, Koketso Mashala from Limpopo, said: “Transport has gone up. Then there are staples like food and medicine. R1,500 is not enough.”
Esona Fanele said, “We have to buy food and clothes and it’s not like we receive anything back home, some of us don’t have parents. This is all we got.”
Nonhlakanipho Minenhle, a student at the Durban University of Technology, said the allowance was especially taxing on women who also needed to buy feminine care products each month.
Education Professor Jonathan Jansen disagreed with the petition. He said: “Why not make the allowance R10,000? If the state is there to provide you with food and clothing, why stop at R2,000? Imagine what ECD (Early Childhood Development) could do with that money. If the university is little more than a SASSA paypoint, go all the way.”
Questions sent to the Department of Higher Education and Training spokesman Ishmael Mnisi and NSFAS went unanswered by publication.
Meanwhile, the Special Investigating Unit is probing allegations of corruption and maladministration of NSFAS funds. This, after a student was erroneously sent R14-million via EFT in 2017. The incident sparked questions about fund disbursement and allowances.