How to Fund your Studies in South Africa?

by Staff Reporter

Looking at the many ways to fund your studies in South Africa can be overwhelming. There are many options and guidelines to follow in order to determine if you qualify for certain funding options.

In this blog post, we break down some of the most popular ways you can fund your studies in South Africa.

Table of Contents

Looking for a means to fund your studies can be one of the most stressful aspects of going to university, but there are many options for students who are not financially able to simply pay for each course.

There are a number of ways to finance your university studies in South Africa. The most common way is through student loans, which can be obtained from banks, financial service providers or the government.

Most universities in South Africa offer some financial aid too.

There are also a number of bursaries and scholarships available, which can help cover the cost of tuition fees and living expenses.

Finally, many students also work part-time jobs to help support themselves during their studies.

Here are the top 5 options to consider.

Student Loans

Student loans are the most popular option for students who are looking to fund their studies.

Student loans are a type of financial aid that helps students pay for their tuition as well as student accommodation, transportation, textbooks, food and other student expenses.

The loans are typically provided by banks, financial service providers or the government, and they have to be repaid with interest. Students can often get student loans even if they have bad credit, but they may have to pay a higher interest rate.

It is important to consider what taking out a student loan from a bank means. It requires the student to start paying back the loan after they graduate. Student loans from local banks usually tend to have a huge interest mark-up and require students to start paying between 3-6 months after graduating.

Also important to note, is that you will need a parent or guardian to sign surety and pay the interest until you graduate and can start paying back the loan.

Here are some institutions where you can apply for a student loan:

Find out more about your funding options.

How to apply for a student loan

To apply for a student loan, you will need to submit an application to the relevant institution, along with supporting documentation.

Once your application has been assessed, you will be notified of the outcome. If your application is successful, the loan amount will be deposited into your bank account.

Depending on the institution’s specific requirements, students generally need to start repaying the student loan, plus interest after you have graduated or left university.

It is important to contact the financial institution of your choice directly to confirm the application process and requirements for applying for a student loan.

University Financial Aid

Most of the bigger universities in South Africa offer financial aid to students who are unable to fund their studies and/or have achieved excellent academic results (even more reason to hit the books in matric!)

Each university has its own criteria and rules when it comes to applying for financial aid and who qualifies. 

So it’s important that you contact the university’s financial aid office to enquire about their financial aid requirements.

List of University Financial Aids

Bursaries & Scholarships

If you’re not interested in taking out a loan and have a good academic record, you should consider looking for a bursary or a scholarship.

Bursaries and scholarships are other forms of financial aid that can help students pay for their education.

Scholarships are typically awarded based on merit, while bursaries are typically awarded based on financial need. Both scholarships and bursaries can cover the cost of tuition fees and living expenses.

Scholarships, bursaries, and grants are not required to be paid back, which makes them different from student loans

While many universities will know of bursaries that are available to students (so you should definitely ask about these), you can also benefit from looking for your own bursary or scholarship.

Have a look at the comprehensive list of bursaries available in South Africa where you can filter all bursaries to find the ones in your chosen field of study.

fund your studies


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is an option that often works in conjunction with your university of choice by providing funding for students who have little to no familial income.

NSFAS is a government organization which aims to provide an efficient and sustainable financial aid system for poor yet academically eligible students.

NSFAS enables these kinds of students to obtain loans and bursaries at 26 public higher education institutions and 50 technical and vocational education training colleges.

How NSFAS works

A student who receives an NSFAS loan is required to start paying back the loan at the beginning of the year after the student has become employed or becomes self-employed (irrespective of whether the student has completed his or her studies).

The good news is that repayments only begin when the student’s annual salary is R26 300 or more and the repayment rate is reasonable: 3% of your annual salary when you begin working, increasing to a maximum of 8% when your salary reaches R59,300 or more per year.

This means you will pay back R900 a year on a salary of R30 000 a year, or R84 per month. Not a bad deal, especially when you consider that the interest charged on the loan is subsidised at 80% of the rate that the commercial rate banks would charge.

Contact NSFAS directly to enquire about a student loan or ask your university about their NSFAS funding.

Work Part-Time

If all else fails, you have the option of working and studying part-time.

Many students work part-time jobs to help finance their studies. This can be a great way to earn some extra money to cover the cost of tuition fees and living expenses. However, it is important to balance your work and studies so that your academic performance does not suffer.

If you are working full-time and studying part-time is not an option, consider getting a student job.  This can help take the pressure off your parents by providing money for living expenses.

Many people work full-time, support themselves financially, pay for their tuition fees and pass their studies with above-average marks!

work part-time

There are so many ways to fund your studies in South Africa, so don’t despair if one option doesn’t work for you. The best strategy is always to ask as many questions as you can. There are many possible ways to fund your studies. Ask the fees department at your chosen institution to give you advice on what options to consider if you are unsure which path to choose

Talk to your university about funding, job opportunities, bursaries and scholarships.  They might know how to help you fund the most important decision of your life!

Fund your studies with Fundi

Remember to look at what options work well for you and your family.

If you need assistance with funding, we can help! Fundi offers student financing that covers a range of costs. Try our loan calculator to learn more about how we can help you develop and achieve your goal of becoming a millwright!

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