As of this year, the cost of first-year tuition at college or university in South Africa averages out to R64,000. For most students, this means it’s necessary to apply for a student loan.
A loan may make it possible for you to get tertiary education you couldn’t otherwise afford. However, it could also saddle you with crippling debt, or end up costing a lost more than you originally realised.
Make sure you’re properly informed by getting full answers to the following questions to ask before taking a student loan.
How much can I apply for?
Some lenders have an upper limit on loans, so make sure you know exactly how much you need before you apply.
This doesn’t just cover tuition fees, find out if you need to cover accommodation, textbooks, transport and other living expenses with the loan.
How much interest is charged and when?
A student loan starts accumulating interest immediately. In most cases, this interest will need to be paid monthly while you’re still studying.
So make sure you find a lender with a competitive interest rate and associated fees.
Where is the loan paid out to?
Some lenders will pay the loan directly to the university to cover tuition fees. Others pay the loan amount into your bank account.
If you have applied for living expenses, these might be paid directly to the residence. Make sure you find this out beforehand.
Does someone need to stand surety?
As a general rule, someone will have to stand surety on the loan.
This person might be billed for associated fees and interest during the study period as well. The person standing surety should have a close connection to you, such as a parent or guardian.
When do I have to start repaying the loan?
Repayments on the loan amount are normally due as soon as you finish your studies.
Make sure you ask how long the repayment period is on the loan and if there are flexible terms.
Also, check if they have a grace period if you battle to find work right after you graduate.
Can I extend the loan to study further?
Check with the lender if you have the option of furthering the loan for another year of study. This is in case you decide to go for an honours degree or higher diploma once you have graduated.
Ask how this affects the repayment schedule and interest.
Can I attend any college with this loan?
Most banks will approve loans for any college or university that has the correct accreditation. Some might even give loans for overseas or online studies.
Find out about any limits on where you can study before you apply.
What happens if I fail or dropout?
What if you fail your first year or need to repeat a subject? Ask the lender if this will affect the loan in any way.
Make sure any difficulties you have when studying don’t suddenly make you ineligible. If you need to repeat a year, make sure you have the option to extend the loan.
Free higher education in South Africa
Free higher education is available to some students in South Africa. If your household income is less than R350,000 per annum and you are a South African citizen, you can apply through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NFSAS).
Only first-time, full-time students doing undergraduate degrees at public universities are eligible, although there are exceptions for certain postgraduate degrees such as a Bachelor of Laws (LLB).
At XtraSpace, we don’t offer loans or professional financial advice. Instead, we offer convenient, affordable storage that’s ideal for students.Contact us for more information.