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In November last year, NMMU took the decision to extend its help to students from the so-called “missing middle” – these are students whose families are not poor enough to qualify National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) support, but not wealthy enough to pay for own their tertiary studies.

NMMU is offering these students as well as unfunded NSFAS students 2015 debt relief and/or 2016 down payment relief, which means payment is initially deferred.

These are some of their stories …

Second-year Human Resources student Nathan Maree

Port Elizabeth student Nathan Maree, 21, started a degree in analytical chemistry at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2014. After a semester, he realised it wasn’t the right fit for him and put his studies on hold, until 2015, when he registered for a degree in Human Resources.

Maree did not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) as his mother, a single parent who is a medical assessor for a medical aid company, earns reasonably well in her job. However, she cannot afford to pay his study fees.

For the second half of 2014, he worked hard as a lifeguard at Malabar public swimming pool and as a bartender, to pay off the fees he owed for his semester of chemistry. His mother paid his registration fees for his new course last year, having arranged a loan through her work.

But he still owes all his fees for 2015.

Maree falls into the so-called “missing middle” – a growing South African student group.

As a student at NMMU, Maree is able to continue his studies, having applied to have his 2015 study debt deferred. The university’s “down payment relief” programme means he also doesn’t need to pay his registration fees up front.

“Debt relief has really helped a lot. I am so happy. Otherwise, I would have taken another year off to work to pay off those fees.” 

Xola Vukapi, 21

Lusikisiki resident, Xola Vukapi, 21, is grateful her debt relief application has been successful and the R14 150 she owes will not prevent her from obtaining her Diploma in Accounting.

Xola was orphaned after her dad died in 2011. Her mother died while she was in primary school.  She was cared for by her aunt, an informal hairdresser, who attempted to raise money for her studies.

“This means so much to me – I was so stressed. This debt relief is my only hope in enabling me to continue my studies at NMMU,” she says.

This year, Xola also received National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding to continue her studies but if NMMU had not intervened, her debt would have prevented her from registering.

Second year BA Media, Communication and Culture student Thozamile Nkomo

THOZAMILE Nkomo lives with his aunt and three cousins in George. His mother died when he was 13 and he only met his father a few years ago.

Determined to pursue a career as a newspaper reporter, the 23-year-old last year completed his second year of BA Media, Communication and Culture studies at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. His father, who serves in the army, had been supporting him, but the relationship is strained – and the money dried up.

Some of the costs of his studies were covered by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) – but, with no other fixed financial support, he ended the year owing the university almost R13 500.

Ordinarily, he would not have been allowed to continue studying until he had paid up, but NMMU’s efforts to assist students against the backdrop of the #feesmustfall movement, and assist the 2015 student intake with debt relief, means he can return to campus this year. He will have to pay back this money when he is working, but if his academic results are good he’ll have less to pay.

“This is a great opportunity, and something the university should have done a long time ago. So many people could have been given an opportunity to complete their studies … I am quite excited for the year ahead.”

Boniswa Hadi, 24

Final-year Financial Management student Boniswa Hadi, 24, of Butterworth, receives NSFAS funding but it never met all her study needs.

Her mother tries to meet her living expenses but at the end of 2015 she still owed NMMU R2 340.

Boniswa Hadi, 24, credits NMMU’s debt and down payment relief in helping her education dreams get back on track.

“This is hugely welcome. I would have been forced to quit my studies. I need to get my qualification to help relieve my mother from financial stress,” she said.

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057