Minister of higher education, training and innovation Itah Kandjii-Murangi says that the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) has provided financial assistance of N$6.99 billion to 70,233 students during the period from 2018 to 2022.
Kandjii-Murangi said this during the launch of the 2023 online application at the NSFAF head office in Windhoek yesterday.
The 2023 study loan application process commenced on the same day, and will continue until 31 January 2023.
The minister urged the prospective students to apply promptly to avoid payment of hefty registration fees by institutions of high learning as well as possible dropouts due to uncertainty.
According to the higher education minister, the majority of students that have been assisted for the past five years are studying at Namibia’s local institutions of higher learning.
A total of 23760 students were funded to study at the University of Namibia (Unam), 10159 at Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), while 11502 were funded to pursue study at International University of Management (IUM).
Others were funded to pursue study at various institutions, particularly the TVET level.
She said the ministry expects 17885 applicants to meet the funding requirement for the 2023 academic year, which will be an addition to the 27407 students currently being funded by NSFAF.
This will bring the total number of students to be funded during the 2023 academic year to 45292, at the cost of N$1,7 billion.
“Government intends to make NSFAF a revolving fund by recovering loan repayments from gainfully employed former beneficiaries. However, the realisation of this vision shall not be detrimental to the citizens,” Kandji- Murangi said.
The minister appealed to former beneficiaries to make use of the opportunity to become student loan debt-free by paying off their principal amounts.
“This gesture has resulted in N$2.6 billion of interests completely waivered. This online application targets undergraduates, postgraduates, and vocational applicants enrolled or wishing to study at local and SADC/internationally recognised institutions with accredited programmes.”
She added: “Mature age applicants are also welcome for local public institutions only, namely Unam, Nust and Namcol.”
Meanwhile, NSFAF acting chief executive officer Kennedy Kandume said that during the current financial year, the Fund received 23741 applications of which 17096 received financial assistance, representing 72% of total applicants.
In contrast, 6645 applicants (28%) were unsuccessful, primarily because they exceeded the financial eligibility threshold, which is N$500 000 already funded by other Institutions, not meeting the required academic performance or not submitting the required documents.
He said in the current financial year, students were funded at the tune of N$1.55 billion.
N$1.408 billion was allocated during the tabling of the 2022/23 national budget in March this year, while N$146.6 million was allocated in October 2022.
“The Fund resolved to open the application cycle early as opposed to previous years to give prospective applicants enough time to submit their applications and supporting documents, but most importantly to finalise the awarding process and ultimately disbursement of funds on time,” Kandume said.
“The Fund is not oblivious to the challenges and hardship caused by late disbursement of funds, hence their quest to improve operational efficiency and start the application early is one of the steps in addressing these challenges. We know that the ultimate solution is to align the post-school education (secondary schooling) calendar with the government financial year,”he said
The challenge the institution faces at the moment is that institutions of higher learning in Namibia open in late January, and early February, but the financial year which allocates money meant to be used in January and February, only begins 1st April each year, he explained.