It has come to light that many students seeking financial assistance do not really submit their parent’s income when they apply for a loan, and they just go to a police station and declare their parents are unemployed.
The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) policy clearly states that if parental income is above N$750 000 per annum, it will only pay tuition fees, unless there is proof of support for other siblings and or legally adopted children at institutions of higher learning.
The policy also stipulates that if parental income is less than N$750 000 per annum, NSFAF will pay the full predetermined rate.
NSFAF acting chief operating officer Kennedy Kandume explained that the implementation of the policy is difficult because people don’t provide parental income.
“As you know our people, you cannot force them to provide the pay slips of their parents. We do require that they provide parental income but they don’t and they opt to do a police declaration. Most of them indicate that their parents are not working. It becomes difficult as students going to the police is an easy way out. In some cases, it’s true they find it difficult to find for example their fathers, but it’s difficult to prove. Parental income is difficult to implement although the policy is clear,” he said.
On the notion that NSFAF at times funds students of well-off parents at the expense of the needy, Kandume said it’s problematic to prove because most submissions made by students mainly state their parents are unemployed.
Further, he said, NSFAF has products in place that do not discriminate, irrespective of parents’ income. These concern merit based grants, where financial assistance is given to two best performers at higher or ordinary level per region in the form of a grant.
This grant, he explained, is guaranteed and covers full tuition and non-tuition fees to be determined by NSFAF, provided that beneficiaries are not 100 percent funded by another institution.
“This field is given irrespective of the field of study the beneficiary chooses to pursue. The grant is given to a student to study at local institutions of higher learning or within SADC, however, should a student decide to pursue his or her studies outside SADC, then a rate equivalent to the one paid in SADC will apply,” Kandume said.
Further, he said, if NSFAF finds itself in a situation where more students meet the requirements than the funds available, then the mean testing (parental income) will apply.
“People who are able to pay should be then treated according to the policy. But we can also not go to the police and declare someone’s declaration is false. How many students are you going to go after, and how do you prove how much their parents are earning even if you know them?” he questioned.
“We rely mostly on truthfulness. We urge students to be truthful so that money really goes to the needy. If your parents are earning over N$1 million, why declare that they are unemployed?” he urged.
Other products offered by the fund for undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education and training include loans, low priority-based loans, medium priority-based loans, NSFAF special initiatives and co-funding loans.