New financial aid policy opens doors for students

18 February 2008

This year will see UCT up its contribution to financial aid by R4 million to R45 million - and along with this increase, there are some drastic changes to funding policy, which aim to increase accessibility to UCT and address equity issues.

With some savings from 2007, UCT's total contribution will be R51 million. Add this to the many other bursaries and loans, and a total of just over R100 million will be distributed to up to 3 500 UCT students in scholarships and financial aid assistance.

Policy changes to financial aid include:

  • Expected Family Contributions payments have been reduced by up to 50%, making them more affordable, especially for lower-income families;
  • for the first time, set-value bursaries are being offered to undergraduates in their first years of study, making UCT's financial aid more marketable and attractive to prospective students;
  • all South African citizens including permanent residents, are now eligible for funding, and
  • living allowances have been increased to closer reflect the current cost of living, and to allow students to find accommodation in more accessible areas to UCT.

Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo explains the reasons for the policy change.

"Our concerns were that the financial aid system was not capturing the capable but poor students that we really wanted; that many middle-class families were excluded by an income that placed them outside financial aid parameters, yet in real terms could not afford UCT fees; that UCT was putting in significant amounts of money into financial aid to assist the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, yet we were marketing our offering wrongly by stressing the loan component, instead of the bursary aspect. We were also possibly violating the law in not offering financial aid to South African permanent residents.

"I think the new financial aid policy has become an important tool in our drive to get the best students to UCT, whatever their origin or past circumstances. I am very happy with it, and I think if we continue to improve our practices, we will make a real contribution to access to UCT for students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds."

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