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Missing middle school students now have access to a new government loan program

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Missing middle school students now have access to a new government loan program

Missing middle school students now have access to a new government loan program. Students who were previously excluded from NSFAS bursaries due to slightly higher family incomes will now have the opportunity to access government loans for their studies. The Higher Education Minister recently announced a new scheme, set to open for applications in the coming weeks.

Check Also: ZA Student Portal

NSFAS Bursary Success

The NSFAS bursary scheme has been successful in aiding students from poor or working-class families, defined by an annual income of less than R350,000. However, individuals earning slightly above this threshold, known as the “missing middle,” have struggled to secure government support.

Addressing the Missing Middle Challenge

The government has recognized the challenges faced by the missing middle and has taken action based on the findings of a working group. Within a few weeks, students in this category are promised access to loans covering tuition, accommodation, and other study-related costs.

Features of the New Loan Scheme

Eligibility Criteria and Funding Sources

The new funding, available from the 2024 academic year, supports households with an income up to R600,000 per annum. Funding will be sourced from the National Skills Fund and the Setas. Minister of Higher Education Dr Blade Nzimande envisions growing the scheme’s budget from the initial R3 billion to R42 billion in ten years.

Inclusive Support for Undergraduates and Postgraduates

The loan scheme caters to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, covering tuition fees, accommodation, and allowances. Students achieving over 70% in their studies and completing courses within the stipulated period can have half of the loan amount written off.

Selective Loan Allocation Based on Courses

Unlike NSFAS, the new loans will be selective based on the students’ chosen courses. Seventy percent of loans will go to STEM subjects (including commerce and entrepreneurial studies), while 30% will be allocated to humanities students.

Target Institutions and Application Timeline

The loans are exclusively for students at TVET Colleges or public universities, with no funding available for those in private colleges or higher education institutions. The Minister announced that applications for the new loan scheme will open within about two weeks.

Conclusion

The new government loan scheme bridges financial gaps for the “missing middle,” offering support to students with slightly higher incomes. This inclusive initiative promotes education accessibility and fosters national skill development.

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Storm Closes Schools in Western Cape

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Storm Closes Schools in Western Cape

Storm Closes Schools in Western Cape. The Western Cape province in South Africa is bracing for its first major winter storm of the year, prompting the closure of schools in areas deemed most at risk of flooding and storm damage. Premier Alan Winde announced that public/government schools will be closed on Monday, 8th April 2024, in the Overberg, Cape Winelands, and Helderberg (Somerset) regions.

However, schools in the City of Cape Town are currently not included in the closure.

Check Also: ZA Student Portal

Storm Warning Upgraded

The storm warning for the Western Cape has escalated from a level 6 to a level 9, indicating the severity of the expected weather conditions. Strong winds and heavy rain are anticipated, posing a significant risk to properties and infrastructure in the affected areas.

Private Schools Under Review

While public schools have been instructed to close, discussions are ongoing with private schools to determine whether they will also suspend classes on Monday. This decision will be crucial in ensuring the safety of students and staff during the inclement weather.

Early Reports of Damage

As the storm approaches, reports of damage have already emerged. Somerset Mall, located in the Helderberg region, suffered severe roof damage as sheets were blown off by the strong winds. Additionally, a fire in Glencairn near Fish Hoek was exacerbated by high winds, resulting in the destruction of several houses. Another fire damaged numerous homes in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, as well as the historic Blaauwklippen homestead.

Conclusion

With the Western Cape preparing for adverse weather conditions, the closure of schools in high-risk areas is a proactive measure to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and communities. Continued monitoring of the situation and adherence to safety guidelines are essential during this period of heightened alert.

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