Does NSFAS Fund Advanced Diploma Courses?

Why has the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) ceased funding for Advanced Diploma courses as of 2021? What does this change mean for South African students with aspirations for higher education? This significant shift in policy has left many students pondering their future academic paths and seeking alternative funding options. With NSFAS being one of the most prominent financial aid institutions in South Africa, understanding the reasons behind this discontinuation of postgraduate funding, which includes Advanced Diplomas, is crucial.

In this article, we will explore 10 key reasons why NSFAS no longer funds Advanced Diploma courses, shedding light on the factors that led to this decision. From budget constraints to a focus on undergraduate programmes, each reason provides a lens through which to comprehend the financial aid landscape in South Africa better. As we navigate these intricate issues, the aim is to offer valuable insights that could help students make informed choices about their educational future.

Does NSFAS Funds Advanced Diploma Courses in South Africa?

No, as of the 2021 academic year, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in South Africa does not fund Advanced Diploma courses. This is part of a broader policy shift where NSFAS has discontinued funding for all postgraduate qualifications, including postgraduate certificates, postgraduate diplomas, honours degrees, masters, and PhD degrees. For students seeking financial support for postgraduate studies, alternative funding options such as the National Research Foundation (NRF) are recommended.


Why does NSFAS no longer support funding for Advanced Diploma courses? What are the key considerations that led to this decision? Understanding the reasons can offer valuable insights for South African students planning their academic futures. Here are 10 pivotal factors:

  1. Shift in Focus to Undergraduate Studies: One of the primary reasons for NSFAS discontinuing postgraduate funding, including Advanced Diploma courses, is to centralise its resources on undergraduate programmes, where the majority of students require financial assistance.
  2. Limited Budget: The budget allocated to NSFAS is finite. By focusing solely on undergraduate courses, NSFAS aims to maximize the impact of its financial resources.
  3. High Demand for Undergraduate Funding: Given the escalating demand for financial aid at the undergraduate level, it becomes difficult to extend support to postgraduate courses without stretching the budget too thin.
  4. Other Funding Channels for Postgraduate Courses: Institutions like the National Research Foundation (NRF) are more suited for postgraduate funding, providing another avenue for students seeking such educational pathways.
  5. Alignment with National Priorities: NSFAS aims to align its funding model with South Africa’s broader educational and workforce needs, which often prioritize undergraduate qualifications.
  6. Optimizing Success Rates: By focusing on undergraduate programmes, NSFAS aims to bolster the success rates and throughput for students at this level, thereby creating a more substantial base of candidates qualified for postgraduate studies.
  7. Sustainability Concerns: Continuous expansion of the scope of funding can jeopardize the long-term sustainability of the NSFAS model.
  8. Administrative Simplicity: Focusing on a narrower range of qualifications makes the administration of funds more straightforward and efficient.
  9. Fairness and Equality: By allocating its resources to undergraduate studies, NSFAS aims to level the playing field and offer more students the opportunity to gain foundational academic qualifications.
  10. Facilitating Skill Development: The belief is that providing financial aid for undergraduate studies will result in a larger number of students gaining essential skills that meet the immediate needs of the South African job market.

If you are seeking financial assistance for postgraduate qualifications like Advanced Diplomas, visiting the National Research Foundation’s website at for application dates is highly recommended.

Alternative Ways to Fund Advanced Diploma in South Africa

Searching for alternative ways to fund your Advanced Diploma course in South Africa? Wondering how you can secure financial aid outside of NSFAS? There are numerous routes you can take to fund your postgraduate qualification. Here are some alternative options:

  1. Bank Loans: Many South African banks offer student loans with relatively low-interest rates and flexible repayment terms.
  2. Bursaries: Numerous private companies and government departments offer bursaries for postgraduate studies. These are often sector-specific and may require you to work for the company after completing your studies.
  3. Scholarships: Educational institutions and other organisations often provide scholarships based on academic merit, sporting excellence, or other talents.
  4. Crowdfunding: Websites like GoFundMe or local platforms like Feenix allow you to raise small amounts from a large number of people to fund your education.
  5. Part-Time Work: Many students choose to work part-time to supplement their income. Some educational institutions also offer work-study programmes.
  6. Family Support: If possible, family members may be willing to contribute to your education. Some families set up educational trusts for this purpose.
  7. Employer Sponsorship: If you are currently employed, your company may offer financial assistance for further studies as part of your employee benefits.
  8. Fellowships: These are often available for specific fields of study and are offered by educational institutions, non-profit organisations, and even governments.
  9. Internships: Some paid internships can offer enough income to help finance your postgraduate course, especially if they are in your field of study.
  10. National Research Foundation (NRF): For research-related advanced diplomas, the NRF provides grants and funding for postgraduate students.
  11. Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs): These organisations provide both bursaries and work opportunities in specific sectors.
  12. Online Courses: As a last resort, you can look for online versions of the course you are interested in, as these are often less expensive.

Exploring these avenues can help you find a financial solution that’s tailored to your needs, enabling you to pursue an Advanced Diploma course in South Africa without relying on NSFAS.

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