Frequently Asked Questions

What is ISFAP?

Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme(ISFAP) is a support and funding model for financially needy students that fall under the categories of “Poor” and “Missing Middle” students.

How are the students selected? What are the qualifying criteria?

  • A household means test is done for all applying students
  • Academic criteria and registration, which vary per institution but will include:
  • Matric results
  • Funder constraints (that meet individual funder objectives) which will be applied to students applying

How do students apply?

Students can apply online at

What is the cost of funding per student?

The cost of funding varies per institution as ISFAP funds full cost of study. The average full cost of study per student is R166 668.00 (value based on funding of over 1700 students across multiple universities and courses)

What does the full cost of study mean/entail?

The full of cost of study is broken down into the following:

  • Tuition fees;
  • Accommodation;
  • Food;
  • Laptop;
  • Textbook Allowance;
  • Living allowance / pocket money;
  • Non-academic student support (project manager; tutorial support; life support; admin support; life skills training; staff mentors).

How will funding work?

Each student will receive enough funding to cover all tuition costs as well as accommodation and travel (if the student does not have accommodation), books, meals and a stipend (living allowance). This will be through a fully funded grant bursary. In addition, the Universities will provide students with academic support, social support, life skills training and medical support when required.

Where does ISFAP get its funds from?

ISFAP raises its funding to support South African youth from various organisations, including but not limited to:

  • Companies in the Private Sector (Skills development, BBBEE, CSI, Tax, Bursary management services);

  • Government institutions, including SETAs;

  • International corporations;

  • Foundations;

  • Non-profit organisations;

  • Development finance institutions;

  • Private individuals;

  • Local and international donors.

What is the "Missing middle"?

“Poor” and “Missing Middle” students are defined based on the household income of the applying student. The household income bands that qualify under “Poor” and “Missing Middle” are:
Poor: R0 - R350 000
Missing Middle: R350 001 - R600 000

Why was ISFAP created?

In 2016 the then Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Blade Nzimande appointed Mr. Sizwe Nxasana to lead a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) to explore various options for funding the “poor” and “missing middle“ students who require financial assistance in order to succeed in tertiary education programmes. The MTT report that came out of this process proposed a model that brings together the Public and Private sectors together through a partnership to enable this objective.

A pilot programme was created to test aspects of this model and ran concurrently with a comprehensive feasibility study in line with Treasury Regulations to confirm student financing needs and review the proposed solution (which incorporated public comments). The pilot ended in 2018 with ISFAP being registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO).

Which tertiary institutions has ISFAP partnered?

ISFAP has partnered with the following public universities/institutions and has representation in all these institutions:

  • Central University of Technology
  • Nelson Mandela University
  • University of Venda
  • Stellenbosch University
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • University of Pretoria
  • Walter Sisulu University
  • University of Cape Town
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • University of Johannesburg

ISFAP will in due course partner with all 26 Public Universities in South Africa.

Why were the above institutions chosen for the pilot?

The above-mentioned institutions have been chosen:

  • to ensure a mix between rural-based and urban institutions;
  • because they have larger proportions of missing middle students;
  • because they offer qualifications in the pilot’s chosen fields of study;
  • based on amount of limited funding which could be raised mainly from the private sector for the pilot.

Why were these specific areas of study chosen?

The programmes selected include occupations of high demand or scarce skills that have been identified as critical to South Africa’s economic development.

The programme will, through providing full funding for students, contribute to improving the employment prospects of graduates, while simultaneously creating a highly qualified and sustainable pipeline for these professions that our country so desperately needs.

What role does ISFAP play in addressing higher education imperatives in the country?

ISFAP plays a huge role in solving the funding challenges faced by “poor” and “missing middle” students, as well as in addressing other challenges which South Africa faces, such as graduate employability.

Through the proposed public-private partnership; ISFAP is an indication of the positive work that can be done when government and the private sector come together. The proposed PPP will see government be able to work to solve an issue of national importance (fees for poor and middle students) while giving business a sound initiative into which to invest funds that contribute to the future of their workforce.

What areas of study does ISFAP fund?

Cape Peninsula University of Technology                   
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Central University of Technology                                   
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Durban University of Technology                                  
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Mangosuthu University of Technology                          
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Nelson Mandela University                                                
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North West University                                                         
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Rhodes University                                                                    
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Sefako Makgatho University                                                  
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Sol Plaatje University                                                            
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Stellenbosch University                                                    
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Tshwane University of Technology                                  
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University of Cape Town                                                     
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University of Fort Hare                                                         
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University of the Free State                                                   
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University of Johannesburg                                                 
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University of Kwazulu-natal                                                  
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University of Limpopo                                                          
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University of Mpumalanga                                                
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University of South Africa                                                  
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University of Venda                                                         
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University of Zululand                                                    
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University of Pretoria                                                        
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University of Western Cape                                                
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Vaal University of Technology                                               
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University of the Witwatersrand                                          
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Walter Sisulu University                                                        
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ISFAP - the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme - was established to assist poor and 'missing' middle income university students in selected fields of study to afford the university fees by means of providing financial aid provided the candidate meets certain prescribed requirements.
©  Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme Foundation NPC

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