The right to education is a universal entitlement that includes the right to free, compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education and make it accessible to all, in particular by the progressive introduction of free secondary education, as well as an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education ideally by the progressive introduction of free higher education. In a developing economic context like South Africa, free higher education for all has not been realised yet. It is important therefore to look at possible sources of finance for students in South Africa.
University financial aid – Most universities offer bursaries or grants to students who have excelled in secondary school studies. Students must therefore check with the universitys financial aid office to check for eligibility and make sure an application is lodged before the closing date, which is usually in October of the year preceding the start of studies.
National financial aid – For South African citizens, you may be eligible for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loan to study at one of the countrys public higher education institutions. The NSFAS is a statutory body funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training which provides study loans to academically able but financially needy students.
External bursaries – There are many companies in South Africa as well as provincial government departments who offer bursaries to promising students. Many mining and engineering companies,in particular, provide contract bursaries.
Student loans – All of South Africas major banks offer student loans, both to South Africans and non-South Africans with valid study permits. When applying for a bank loan, you will have to show proof of registration at an education institution.
Bursaries for teachers – These bursaries are offered through Funza Lushaka which is a governmental funded bursary scheme aimed at promoting teaching in public schools. Students planning to complete a teaching qualification in a subject area identified as a national priority by the Department of Basic Education can apply for full cost bursaries, which cover the cost of tuition, books as well as living expenses.
The above are some of the student finance options which can be explored.