For many prospective students it may seem impossible to afford further studies. However demanding the costs may seem to study, one must take all reasonable measures to make it possible. A certificate course is commonly not that expensive, as it is a shorter study period as a diploma course for instance. One may arrange with the academic institution to pay the fees over a few months. Some schools will offer financial assistance or student loans.

Start early, save for your studies while you are still in high school. Prepare your parents in time. Do not only tell them in grade 12 that you want to study a certificate course. Prepare them as soon as possible to start saving or to arrange for a student loan. Try to work while you are studying to pay off some of your expenses. There are so many ways you can make it work, just think creative and resourceful. Do not lose sight of why you are doing a certificate course. You are investing in your future and paving the path for a bright and successful career.

Most certificate courses will be quite practical as college studies aim to prepare you for a career. Make the most of the practical side of your certificate course. Try to make connections at school already and use them wisely while studying. Student work can help to pay the study expenses but can also built useful business contacts for the future.


The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) offers a special facility whereby you can access a loan, part of which they can convert to a bursary, depending on your end-of-year results.

You qualify for financial assistance if you are:

  • an SA citizen, studying for your 1st higher education qualification at a public higher education institution in South Africa;
  • able to demonstrate potential for academic success;
  • in need of financial assistance as determined by the National Means Test.

A loan is money you borrow to cover the costs involved with your higher education studies. You will repay this money only once you start earning a salary. Depending on your end-of-year results, up to 40% of your NSFAS loan are convertible into a bursary, which amount you do not have repay. For more information, visit the NSFAS website at

Closing dates for applications to study and for financial aid can be as early as the end of August of the year before you begin study! Another option for applying for a loan is to take out a student loan with a bank. Most banks demand that:

  • you are a SA citizen;
  • somebody stand surety on your behalf;
  • you must hold/open your bank account with them.

Remember that you will pay interest on the loans, although it will be less than the norm. For the terms and conditions and more information, contact the different banks and compare them to find the best option.


Scholarships are a form of financial aid that does not require repayment. Scholarships can come from a variety of sources, such as community groups, schools and private companies. Companies award them bases on a number of criteria, including academic and sporting achievements. As you do not have to pay for scholarships, the competition is very fierce. Be prepared to actively seek them out rather than sitting back and waiting for offers to come in, even if your results are exceptional! Higher education institutions can provide information on scholarships offered by companies or other sources while many advertise in the newspapers.


Bursaries go to needy learners with excellent academic results who they consider capable of obtaining their qualification in a minimum amount of time. They are different from scholarships in that often they link to conditions. For example, the course of study that must be undertaken or the institutions that must be attended. Sometimes, it is required that you work for the company after graduation for a certain amount of time. Companies, organisations or academic institutions that award bursaries generally monitor the candidate’s progress closely and may cancel the bursary upon unsatisfactory academic results.

There are full bursaries available for FET studies. A student will qualify for a FET College Bursary if he/she is:

  • a South African citizen;
  • Registered at a public South African Further Education and Training College;
  • Registered for the National Certificate (Vocational) (NCV)

Application takes place through the FET College where you plan to study. You must supply a proof of income (salary/pension/statement) and other documents. Contact one of the 50 FET College campuses in the country for further details and information or visit the NSFAS website at

Applying for financial aid.

When applying to any financial aid programme, make sure to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • apply early;
  • make sure you meet all deadlines;
  • complete forms fully and accurately;
  • double check that all your information is entered;
  • sign and date the application. If you are a minor, your legal guardian(s) have to sign as well;
  • Respond quickly to requests for additional information from the study institution.