Students attend class at the American University of Cyprus in north Nicosia. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is home to just several hundred thousand people yet hosts 21 universities officially recognised by the local authorities

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) announced it has received more than one million applications for funding.

During a press briefing at the Government Communication and Information System in Pretoria, NSFAS acting chairperson professor Lourens Van Staden said that the government department received 1,936,330 applications as of Feb. 16 and 1,244,854 students are provisionally funded as of March 1.

Furthermore, there are 108,345 registrations received, 59,723 awaiting evaluations, and 94,816 awaiting supporting documents.

Staden noted that 84,225 applications have been withdrawn by students while 136,468 are in the not-started status as these students only created the profile but have not submitted it yet.

So far, the department has rejected 243,113 applications and 15,174 appeals have been lodged to date. The briefing comes after the window to receive funding applications was closed on Feb. 15.

The NSFAS acting chairperson noted that this scheme works in collaboration with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to verify the financial eligibility of all the students and it ensures that the consent form is submitted by non-South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) applicants.

Staden said with the help of third-party verifications the government agency can process around 23,000 applications daily and prioritize applicants who have received firm offers of admission from universities or those who have enrolled at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

As far as loan applications are concerned, NSFAS received 30,728 loan applications as of Feb. 16 after pre-assessment to determine students who pre-qualify for loans.

"The next step would be for NSFAS to communicate with institutions, to request them to submit admission data for registered students in line with the requirements of the loan of the 70 vs 30 split in STEM [Science, technology, engineering and mathematics] and social sciences respectively," he said, SA News reported.

He added, "At the completion of this process, we envisage that a total of 31 800 missing middle students will be provided with student loans."

Staden, who announced earlier this year that NSFAS has extended the application deadline to Feb. 15, said that the new Comprehensive Student Funding Model will support those students who are not under the NSFAS bursary and funding policy.

This category includes students whose family income is more than R350,000 but not more than R600,000 per year.