While you may want to pursue tertiary education, the cost alone may hinder your pursuit. That’s why, in South Africa, there are several bursaries to help students who may not have the financial means to go to university the ability to pay for it. One such bursary is the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme, better known as ISFAP.
What is ISFAP?
ISFAP was first launched in 2018 after a Ministerial Task Team was set up by the Minister of Higher Education to explore how to help students in poor and middle-income households succeed in university and beyond university.
ISFAP won’t apply to every learner. Instead, the programme is designed to fund higher education costs for students pursuing careers in Occupations of High Demand (OHDs). These qualifications have been identified as critical to the economy by the Human Resources Development Council and include occupations like actuaries, accountants, pharmacists, medical doctors, engineers, and prosthetists.
What Does the ISFAP Bursary Offer?
The ISFAP Bursary covers everything you would need as a student to successfully pass your degree, this includes:
- Tuition fees
- Accommodation stipend
- Food allowance
- Textbook, calculators, and other learning material
- Living allowance or pocket money
ISFAP also offers non-financial and non-academic support, including providing students with a:
- Project manager
- Life support
- Life skills training
These benefits help students have a well-rounded learning experience when attending university.
Although ISFAP offers bursaries to students pursuing specific fields of study, not every student that applies for the bursary — and is accepted to an eligible university and degree programme — will get the bursary. Instead, your acceptance will still depend on whether there are available funds for your degree programme based on the partnerships ISFAP has when you apply.
Step-by-Step Guide to Apply for the ISFAP Bursary
ISFAP is a very competitive bursary. Since its inception, the South African bursary program has only helped 2264 students with bursaries. This means that to get the ISFAP bursary, you should ensure you are following the steps required to get the bursary and maintain the academic eligibility requirements.
Step 1: Determine if You Are Eligible for an ISFAP Bursary
The ISFAP bursary is intended to fund poor and “missing middle” South African students. This means that most of the criteria to be eligible to apply will be based on your household income and South African citizenship. Therefore, applicants must:
- Come from families whose annual income is lower than R600,000 a year.
- Be South African citizens.
- Not be receiving funding from another source
- Complete a means test
Step 2: Apply to and Get Accepted at the University of Choice
Although this isn’t seen as eligibility criteria, to get a bursary with ISFAP, you will first need to be accepted by a university that is within ISFAP’s network.
This means you’ll have to pay a registration fee at this university and complete any other processes necessary to get funded.
Therefore, to ensure you can follow through with your ISFAP bursary, you should also focus on applying to a university sooner rather than later and familiarizing yourself with the universities and programs they fund.
Step 3: Assess if Your Degree and University are Funded by ISFAP
ISFAP only provides bursaries to 11 tertiary institutions in South Africa and a handful of degree programmes within each institution. To ensure your application has a greater chance of being accepted, you should apply to a tertiary institution as soon as possible.
The tertiary institutions ISFAP currently partners with are:
- University of Pretoria (28 approved programs)
- University of Cape Town (27 approved programs)
- University of KwaZulu-Natal (12 approved programs)
- University of Johannesburg (22 approved programs)
- University of Venda (3 approved programs)
- University of Witwatersrand (24 approved programs)
- Stellenbosch University (21 approved programs)
- Tshwane University of Technology (2 approved programs)
- Nelson Mandela University (11 approved programs)
- Central University of Technology (4 approved programs)
- Walter Sisulu University (11 approved programs)
Step 4: Complete the Online Application and Sign the Consent Form
You can complete this step without needing to be accepted into a university; however, you should have applied for the programme or have an idea of which programme you’ll be applying to.
Then, remember, to be approved for the bursary, you will need to provide proof of being accepted to a tertiary institution and degree programme accepted by ISFAP.
You can find a complete list of Universities and degree programmes and courses by following this link and either scrolling down (on mobile) or viewing the right on the screen (on desktop).
Before you start the online application:
- Download the consent form
- Have a digital certified copy of your ID
- Have a certified copy of your latest academic results (Grade 11 or Matric)
Then, to complete the online application form, visit this link.
Once on the registration page, you’ll be required to accept the terms, confirm that you’re a South African citizen, enter your email address, and select the university and course you’ve applied to. Once clicking “Next Page,” you’ll be redirected to complete the registration.
In this section, you’ll need to enter your ID number, first name and surname, race, gender, and cellphone number and click “submit.”
Step 5: Check Your Emails for Communication from ISFAP
To ensure you’re responding with further information or can complete the other steps in ISFAP’s process, including a means test or other tests required by the bursary’s partners, keep an eye on your emails.
You should also be sure to check your spam folder regularly and confirm due dates and so on so that you don’t miss out on the opportunity.
Do You Pay Back ISFAP?
Unlike NSFAS, students funded by ISFAP are not responsible for paying back the funding, nor will they need to work for a specific period at any company or institution as part of receiving the funds.
Is ISFAP Bursary Still Open?
ISFAP bursary applications to attend university in 2023 will be opening on Wednesday, the 18th of May 2022 and close toward the end of October 2022.
Does ISFAP Pay for Private Accommodation?
Yes, ISFAP pays for meals, accommodation, and learning materials; however, each has a limit, which you will be informed of should your application for ISFAP be accepted.
If you have more questions about the bursary program or the process, you can visit the ISFAP website or contact them at 010 880 0400 or email email@example.com.