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The Department of Financial Aid at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Disability National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Guidelines Roadshow, online via Microsoft Teams on Tuesday, 31 May 2022.

Thobeka Nzuza, Senior Financial Aid Counsellor at DUT welcomed and thanked all the guests who attended the event. She also shared the purpose of the Roadshow, which was to introduce the Financial Aid offices to first year students living with disability that are funded by NSFAS. Another purpose of the day was to assist and educate students on the NSFAS guidelines and the rules for the funding. These Financial Aid offices support over 23000 DUT students with appropriate academic support and create a fair learning environment for them. The offices are located at Steve Biko Campus.

“If a student that is living with a disability is funded by NSFAS, that student needs to state that they live with the disability because he/she requires a different package from an NSFAS general student. However, in order to qualify for that package a student needs to submit an annexure document that is found on the NSFAS website. The annexure document needs to be filled in with correct personal details of a student, and contain a doctor or a health practitioners stamp confirming that the student is indeed disabled or living with a chronic illness. The doctor’s letter has to be attached with the annexure document, then submitted to the Financial Aid Offices from there to the Disability Right Office. From there it will be submitted to the NSFAS Head Offices where they will do a conversion of funding. After the funding has been converted then the student will start to qualify for the Disability NSFAS funding package,” explained Nzuza.

Gugu Sacolo, Disability Officer: Disability Right Unit at DUT highlighted the process to apply for the human support and assistive devices.

“NSFAS usually pay for tuition, books, transport, meals and accommodation for everyone, but students that live with disabilities also get paid for assistive devices, which can be a hearing aid, specialised laptop, specialised cellphones and a tape recorder. In order to get these assistive devices a student need to get a quotation of that specific assistive device from the supplier, that quotation must have a name, surname, student number and the quotation must include the suppliers banking details. If a device is less than ten thousand rand the student will need one quotation, if it is thirty thousand and below it needs two quotations, if it’s more than that the student need to have three quotations and those quotations along with the certified copies of an ID needs to be submitted to Gugu Sacolo, Disability Officer at the Disability Right Unit. The payments of these assistive devices are done directly to the supplier,” said Sacolo.

She further explained that the human support claim is where a person living with disability can claim for an interpreter. Human support allowance is R50 000 per year. Another support that they can claim is of a caregiver, which is given to a person who takes care of a student living with disability during his or her studies. The forms for applying for a caregiver allowance are found on the NSFAS website, they also need to be stamped by the doctor and taken back to the Disability Right Unit Office, along with the caregivers documents. The money for a caregiver or a human supporter is paid directly to the students account then the student transfers it to the caregiver or the human supporters bank account. A student funded under NSFAS disability package get a book allowance of R6000 per year, R20 000 meal allowance per year. For the assistive device they get R50 000 for the duration of their study. Then they also receive a medical allowance of R2000 per year.

To qualify for the disability aid, a student needs to be disabled, have a long-term impairment and their household income should be below R600 000 per year.

Zandile Ngubelanga, Financial Aid Counsellor, emphasised on the revised NSFAS guidelines.

“The financial need of a student is assessed at the point of their first application, and continuing students do not need to re-apply annually. NSFAS may re-assess the eligibility of any student at any point whilst funded by NSFAS and reserves the right to withdraw funding if the student no longer meets the eligibility criteria. Higher Certificate students who wish to enrol for Diploma or Degree qualification must re-apply and meet the continuing student academic eligibility requirements. Students who shift from TVET College to university and those who deregister or drop out during the year and wish to resume their studies in future must re- apply for the funding. A student can only be funded at one institution per academic year. If a student receives a full bursary from another source, the NSFAS is withdrawn and all the funds are refunded to NSFAS. Students are only funded for a maximum of N+1 year for their studies. A student receives funding from NSFAS once over their academic life but students with disabilities are funded to a maximum of N+2,” said Ngubeni.

Pretty Khumalo, Administrative Assistant at the Financial Aid Department, shared her presentation on the NSFAS appeal process.

“The NSFAS appeals are meant for students whose funding application has been rejected for various reasons such as the N+RULE, exceeding the income threshold, failing to meet academic performance. The student who has been rejected by NSFAS for the mentioned reasons or beyond these mentioned common rejection reasons is allowed to do an appeal direct to NSFAS online on their myNSFAS student portal, before the closing date. A gap year student or semester student is not allowed to do the NSFAS appeal but they need to re-apply for the funding,” said Khumalo.

Khumalo also urged students to spend their allowances wisely, register for one accommodation type, register at one institution to avoid confusion and delays towards their allowances. She also added that students should meet all the academic progression, criteria, attendant requirements and performance of the course at the University.

Then attendees were allowed to ask questions on what they did not understand during the Roadshow and to share their inquiries regarding the NSFAS disability funding.

Pictured: Zandile Ngubelanga, Gugu Sacolo and Thobeka Nzuza.

Nomvelo Zulu.

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