NMMU under significant financial pressure

The financial stability of South African universities – Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) included – is under severe threat following the national call for free higher education and the implementation of a 0% fee increase in 2016.

In 2016, NMMU assisted academically deserving, financially needy students who qualified for debt resolution, giving them the opportunity to return to the University to continue their studies while converting outstanding debt from 2015 into NMMU-funded NSFAS loans.

This loan funding covered 1531 students to the tune of R21-million in 2016.  The University further offered down-payment relief for qualifying students, bringing the total number of students assisted to 5043. This resulted in a R30-million negative cash flow at end of February 2016.

The University also assisted zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) students with a contribution towards books, food and accommodation, amounting to R25.4-million.

To date, the accumulated 2016 fees debt for NMMU stands at R142.6-million.

The 2017 operational budget is in a deficit position (R68-million) before utilising majority of investment income to break-even.

It would therefore be of great financial detriment to the University to continue with the above-mentioned financial concessions as these place NMMU’s financial sustainability under enormous stress.

The University is cognisant of the plight of many of its students, but it should also be noted that for it to continue giving quality higher education, the University is reliant on an incoming revenue that for now is largely made up by student fees.

We are therefore grateful to the parents and guardians who continue to fulfil their financial obligations. We call on all our students’ financial donors to appreciate the challenge that NMMU is facing and work with it by settling University fees.

University fee increase

NMMU, like many universities in the country, resolved on an 8% fee increase for 2017. This after careful consideration of the university’s increasing costs coupled with the absolute need to remain sustainable.

In addition, the increase effectively takes advantage of government’s concession to subsidize the fee increase for poor and missing middle students.

Debt resolution for 2017

The University offered debt resolution in 2016 to students falling within two groupings, namely zero EFC and missing middle students – the latter as per NMMU determination that stood at maximum R300 000 family income. These students were allowed to convert outstanding 2015 debt into NMMU-funded NSFAS loans, and were granted relief from the normal down payment requirements.

For 2017, the University council resolved that only the 2016 Qualifying Zero EFC group of students, who continue to be academically deserving, will be allowed to register with outstanding debt and be exempt from down payment.

All other students will be required to settle their outstanding debt and pay the 2017 down payment amounts, as per normal NMMU policy, before they can register.

It should be noted that last year’s fees were meant to have been settled by 30 September 2016.

With late registration running until 31 March 2017, students effectively have until then to settle outstanding debt and register before the registration deadline.

Down payment amounts for 2017

Below are the applicable amounts that students have to pay before registration can commence. This amount will be credited to the students’ fee accounts.

  • Degree – R6 700
  • Diploma – R 4 700
  • Residence – R4 800

International students are required to pay all fees in full before they are allowed to register.

Missing middle

The University’s classification of “missing middle” students – those whose family income is not more than R300 000 – no longer applies. Universities are now using the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) definition, which  classifies the missing middle students as those with a combined household income that does not exceed R600 000.

Fee adjustment grant

While tuition and residence fees are 8% more than last year’s, students who have applied and qualify for National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding and missing middle students – those  with combined family income of not more than R600 000 – are eligible for gap funding from government to cover the increase.

For missing middle students, the gap funding grant – for which there is no need to pay back as it is a grant and not a loan – will cover only the difference between 2016 and 2017 fees. NSFAS-qualifying students and those from no-fee paying (Quintile 1 to 3) schools need not apply as their application for the gap funding is automatic.

This DHET grant covers the difference in residence fees for university accommodation only. Accredited accommodation does not apply, according to DHET’s listed criteria.

To apply, please follow this link: http://financialaid.nmmu.ac.za.

NSFAS

Students who missed the November deadline and those who made late applications to universities have an opportunity to apply for NSFAS funding before the 20 January 2017 deadline. This can be done both manually and online.

The University will engage the financial aid scheme on the issue of unfunded NSFAS-qualifying students.

To apply, please follow this link: http://financialaid.nmmu.ac.za.

For more information on finance-related matters, please visit any of NMMU’s Student Accounts and/or Financial Aid offices.

Alternatively, you can email studentaccounts@nmmu.ac.za and/or financialaid@nmmu.ac.za respectively.