How to fund your university studies in South Africa

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Getting a university education is important but unfortunately it is too expensive for the majority of the population, the costs of fees and accommodation can get up to about R100 000 at universities such as UCT. Most people do not even have household incomes that add up to that so university is not even an option unless they can get outside funding to help them pay for university fees. Those classified as poor have the biggest opportunity to find bursaries and scholarships but the problem is that most people who are poor have no idea that they can get help with their funding, the rich can afford to go to university because their parents can afford to pay university fees and some rich kids were in private high schools that cost more than university, the people with the most trouble finding funding would be middle class kids.

how to fund expensive university education in south africa?
Students during fees must fall march at UCT
pic from @Sinesipho_

Different ways to fund your studies

Bursaries and scholarships – You can apply for bursaries which usually pay for your studies but require that you work for them an equal amount of time that they funded your studies. So if they paid for your tuition for 4 years you are expected to work for them for 4 years after you graduate. There are many ways to find bursaries you can go to career expos where they handout pamphlets with bursary opportunities for top students, you can find bursaries on line by googling bursaries in the specific field you want to study, you can find bursaries by going to your local municipality and finding out what sort of bursaries your local municipality is offering. Everyone who qualifies for university and has good marks can apply for bursaries but most bursaries want financially needy students from poor families, so if you poor and you did well in school you are at an advantage.
To look for bursaries in your field of study you can start here: and check out this fb page which always shares bursary and learnership opportunities

NSFAS – If you are from poor family and qualify for university study you should apply for financial aid which is usually NSFAS, the application form usually comes with the university application forms. The poorer you are the better. The amount of funding you get will depend on your household income. Poor to lower middle class people usually qualify for NSFAS funding e.g if you have a household income of less than R160 000 per year (the brochure for KZN universities has this figure even lower at around R140 000), but the amount of funding you can receive will depend on the university you are applying to or attend, people at UCT can apply for financial aid if their household income is R550 000 or less but that is because UCT combines their own financial aid (Gap) with NSFAS. Please visit their website for more details: and read this article on NSFAS to find out everything you want to know about NSFAS on one page.

Student loan – your parents can get student loan at the bank for you as your surety, they would then only pay the interest and you will be responsible for paying back loan amount when you graduate and start working. All major banks have student loans.

Eduloan – you can get your parents to be your surety and get you a student loan from eduloan, you can borrow money from eduloan to pay registration fees and to buy tetbooks while you apply to bursaries and try finding other sources of funding. Eduloan usually has quick responses. Find out more at

ho to fund expensive university education in sa
Fees must fall protests in october
pic from @Sinesipho_

Find a part-time job – many students have part time jobs to help pay for university or for accommodation and food, these part time jobs could be working during weekends at restaurants as waiters and waitresses, clubs during weekends, at gym’s as fitness instructor if fitness is your thing and you do a short course to get a certification as fitness instructor, working as pizza delivery boys, if you have the looks and the height you can go sign up with a modelling agency in your city, or join an agency so you can be an extra in tv shows and movies and adverts, you can look for a weekend job at a library or as a receptionist, you can deliver your universities weekly paper for some cash. Search the internet there are many part time jobs one can find, search for jobs in newspapers etc.

Blogging and youtube – if you have something you are really good at or a hobby you are obsessed with you can share your obsession with the world by opening a blog and or having a YouTube channel and uploading weekly videos. If your videos are good or your blog is interesting and it gains a large following or gets many views you can monetize your YouTube or website using google adsense or other advertising networks. If you are interested in making money this way there are plenty of resources online, go to blogs like and to finding out more about starting blogs and YouTube channels and growing viewership to make money.

Working for your university or residence - you can apply for a job at the computer lab in your residence or on campus, you can apply to be a sub warden at a res if you have stayed there more than a year and you have been a model student (sub-warden are what I would like to think are the equivalent of prefects in residence they keep order and make sure everyone follows the res rules and they get paid for it). You can also be the receptionist at your res if has those and a dining hall monitor in a catering residence. You must find out the jobs available to students at your university.

Become a tutor - If you have a great academic record in courses where current undergrads can tutor courses they did well in, you can apply to be a tutor for that course if you have the time, tutoring at university usually pays well. If you had great marks in high school for subjects like maths, accounting and physics you can work for a tutoring company and tutor current high school students for a small fee in your free time, or you can advertise yourself and work for yourself as a tutor and get all the money instead of a cut of the profits.

I am sure there are other ways to fund your university studies that I have not mentioned here, you can be creative and see if you can use entrepreneurial skills to start a business to help you fund your education. If you cannot go to a normal full-time university you can study at an institution like UNISA since it’s the cheapest form of university education and you can study while working full-time in your own time. Please subscribe to us via email and share this post on Facebook or twitter whichever is your preferred social media site so that others can read this too.

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