Financing your studies

The biggest hurdles in the way of tertiary education are achieving the level of grades needed for admission, and the cost of tertiary education.

The cost of tuition alone is high – varying from around R20 000 a year to over R100 000 per year, depending on your chosen course and the institution you’d like to study at.

Unfortunately, tuition fees aren’t the only costs to consider. Bear in mind, you’ll also need:

·       Upfront registration fees and/or admin fees

·       Accommodation – whether in a university residence or private accommodation

·       Food

·       Transport to and from university and home for weekends and holidays

·       Books and course materials

·       A laptop and/or tablet and the necessary mobile data and airtime

·       Money for incidental costs, entertainment and emergencies

While these costs may seem daunting, there are a number of student financing support programmes in place to help you cover your tertiary education costs.

Banks make student loans available, typically covering the cost of tuition, books and university accommodation. The loans can be structured so that only the interest is payable while the student is at university, a grace period is allowed after graduation, and the student starts repaying the capital after graduation.

Scholarships and bursaries are available to deserving students on merit. These typically cover some or all of the costs associated with tertiary education. Applications are submitted the year before tertiary study begins.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) offers bursaries and funding to qualifying students. Get information from

Part-time jobs are traditionally the best way for students to make ends meet and cover loan and bursary shortfalls. Your tertiary institution’s notice boards and online forums will likely advertise suitable part-time work for students. Opportunities are also widely available for students to work as tutors, au pairs, promotional staff, events staff, waiters and barmen.


When you’re choosing suitable accommodation during your studies, you need to consider a lot more than the upfront cost alone.

There is also transport, food and safety to consider. Perhaps your university residence seems costly at first glance, but travelling from cheaper private accommodation to university daily, plus the cost of food and incidentals, could add up to a higher total overall than if you stayed in a res and walked to class.

Things to consider:

·       What is the cost of university accommodation, and what is included? How safe is it?

·       What is the cost of alternative accommodation? How safe is it? How many people will I share this space with? What are the additional costs such as electricity and access to ablution and laundry facilities, and what will my costs be to travel to university daily? Can I easily access safe transport from this accommodation – even at night?

·       What will I pay for meals? (Be realistic when calculating your expected food costs. You must eat regular, nutritious meals in order to excel academically)

·       Will my accommodation include access to Wi-fi, laundry facilities, TV and a phone? If not, what will these facilities cost me?