The cost of higher education is one of the biggest barriers to studying after school in South Africa. If you are worried about how you or your parent will pay for studying after school, we are here to help.

You have a couple of options on this front, which we will go over now :)

No Fee Institutions

First, you could apply to tuition-free programs. These are programs where no one pays fees, and so if you get accepted you won’t have to pay.

This is the easiest way to study for free, because you don’t have to do any additional financial aid or bursary applications.

Some options here are:


Second, you can apply to universities, and then apply for NSFAS. Note that NSFAS is not available for private colleges, and applies to government universities and TVETs (public higher education institutions).

In order to qualify for NSFAS you must:

  1. Have been accepted into public higher education institution
  2. Have a household income of R350,000 or less
  3. Be a recipient of a SASSA grant. If you have ever received a SASSA grant (e.g. the Child Support Grant) you will automatically qualify for NSFAS funding.

You will usually need to apply to your universities of choice and NSFAS. When completing your application at the university you are applying to you will usually also need to select the apply for financial aid option. You will have to apply to NSFAS using their online portal, and will need to upload documents to prove your financial need.

Government Funding

Third, you can apply for government funding beyond NSFAS. Options here include:

  • Fundza Lushaka, which is a bursary for students who want to pursue either a Bachelor of Education or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (you will need an undergraduate degree to apply for this option).
  • Bursaries made available by your municipality. See this great list of all bursaries by municipality and department to find ones that apply to you.
  • You should also DEFINITELY check out this government site to find links to amazing bursaries provided by government, companies and universities. The opportunities on this site are for both universities in South Africa and abroad.

Private Bursaries and Scholarships

Fourth, you can apply for private bursaries and scholarships. This is probably the most difficult route to take, as you will need excellent marks and will likely also need a good CV.

Scholarships are also usually offered to students for specific courses of study, and are sometimes also available only for specific universities. They will state what courses and universities they cover on the applications.

You can use this really helpful site to find scholarships and bursaries for what you want to study.

Some well known scholarships you can apply for are:

Low Cost Options and International Universities to apply to as well

Some other inexpensive options you can consider, especially if you do not think you will qualify for financial aid, but also don’t think that you can afford university fees:

These courses are much shorter than the typical 3-year university degree, and so even if you have to pay, it will be much less and for a much shorter period of time.

You could also consider these international options, which offer need and merit based financial aid:

How to get funded

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when looking to study for free.

  1. You should apply for lots of different types of funding. The more types of funding you apply for, the more likely you are to get one of them. This takes a lot of time, but is much less risky than applying for only one or two funding avenues.
  2. Bursary and Scholarship applications take a LONG TIME to fill out. Expect to spend a minimum of one hour filling our one application. You will likely need to apply for quite a lot of bursaries and scholarships, so set aside quite a bit of time for this. This could mean every Saturday morning you just do applications, or you try and do one application a day for a month. Whatever fits into your schedule. But keep in mind that it will probably take up quite a bit of time.
  3. It can be exhausting and annoying to fill out loads of really similar applications. That’s okay and normal. But keep in mind what an amazing impact it will have on your life if you get the funding, and try to keep going.

You are amazing, you got this, the FoondaMate team is rooting for you!

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About the author : Dacod Magagula

Co-founder, CEO - FoondaMate