Financial aid system faces policy changes

11 May 2002
THIS WEEK'S Vice-Chancellor's Forum focused on changing the current policy of the undergraduate financial aid system.

For most of the past decade UCT has had a system of guaranteed financial aid for undergraduate students who pass a means test, with most applicants knowing in advance whether or not they will qualify for support.

In his address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin West, applauded the success of UCT's financial aid system. "An average of R30-million goes towards undergraduate financial aid and entrance scholarships, and this year alone an estimated 2 000 students are receiving some kind of support," he added.

West explained that several predicaments now faced UCT's financial aid system structure. These were caused by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme's (NSFAS) new policies and guidelines concerning financial aid for undergraduate students, which require a means test different from the one UCT currently uses.

The new system leaves the university with two options. "It could either offer a modified guarantee of financial aid, which would not be transparent to the applicant, or revert to a system that was in place two years ago that gave faculties an allocated number of packages," said West. This would give faculties greater flexibility in making financial aid awards from a bigger pool of eligible applicants. "They will be able to be more strategic and selective about whom they allocate funds to."

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