Student Loans and Bursaries in South Africa

A bursary is a monetary award that is awarded on the basis financial need.  In South Africa, most of the Universities provide loans and bursaries to students. Before applying, be sure to check with the concerned University about the loan or bursary and eligibility conditions for the same.
International Students may consider the following-
  • University financial aid
  • National financial aid
  • External bursaries
  • Student loans
  • Bursaries for teachers
  • Paying your Own 

University Financial Aid

In South Africa, many Universities offer financial aid to international as well as local students. Generally the grants or bursaries are awarded to pupils who have outdone in their previous studies, or on the sports arena. Contact the university's financial aid office and get information on the eligibility conditions for any of the bursaries or awards, deadlines and other support services. The closing date is generally in October of the year preceding the start of your studies. The dates may vary. 

The NSFAS website has a complete list of the contact details of South African educational institutions. Go through their website, contact them and know about their financial supports.  

National Financial Aid

The South African Nationals who wish to study at the country’s public higher education institution are eligible for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The NSFAS is a statutory body funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training and offers study loans to academically competent but financially deprived students.

Many of the NSFAS loan can be converted into a bursary that need not be paid back depending upon the candidate’s academic growth. Students who have a 100% pass rate would get a 40% bursary rebate on an NSFAS loan.

Size of the initial NSFAS loan:  Between R2,000 and R30,000. 

Applying Process: The students are required to apply for this loan at the respective University’s financial aid office. 

External Bursaries

External bursaries are provided by the provincial government departments as well as many South African Companies to bright pupils. The period of the external bursaries varies. Contract bursaries need to be repaid by working at the company once you’ve finished your degree course. Most of the mining and engineering companies offer contract bursaries.

To know more about the bursaries available in your area of study, refer to a booklet, named “Bursary Register”. This booklet is published every year and has a full list of bursaries discipline wise. You can get this booklet at most high schools and at your chosen university's financial aid office or you can also order a copy from The Bursary Register

Student Loans

In South Africa, all the major banks, such as Absa Bank, Standard Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank,  provide student loans, both to South Africans as well as international students with a valid study permits. A bank loan includes studies at private institutions.

Applying Process: Apply at the respective banks and submit the following-
  • Registration Proof: This proof indicates that you’re registered at an educational institution
  • Parent or Guardian Surety letter: It should be either signed by the parent or the guardian.
Repayment:  After you have finished your studies, you’re required to pay back the bank loan. Keep up the interest payments throughout the term of the loan.

Bursaries for Teachers

Funza Lushaka  is a government-funded bursary scheme that promotes teaching in public schools. Pupils who are interested in 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 tuition fees, living expenses, and books.


The candidates must be-
  •  A Citizen of South Africa
  • Must teach at a public school for the same number of years they’ve obtained the bursary


You can apply for a Funza Lushaka bursary through your university by using your student number.  

Paying your Own Way

Candidates can pay their tuition and other expenses on their own by working part-time while studying, or taking a year off to work before studying. 

Other Bursaries

Bursaries for Studying Social Work through the Department of Social Development. To know more details click here

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