The levels of student debt in South Africa continue to grow. According to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, the total student debt owed to the National Student Financial Aid scheme is over R5.3 billion.
Against this backdrop, the Feenix Trust, a student crowdfunding organisation, announced that it has paid out R24,5 million to assist students with their debt.
One of the students that benefited is final year ICT (Information and Communications Technology) student, Brandon Lee Kruger. The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) student received an email to confirm his student debt had been settled, thanks to financial support from Feenix and NCR (previously known as Spark ATM Systems), an international enterprise technology developer.
“After receiving the email saying congratulations for the donation towards your outstanding debt, I was dumbstruck and went to check my student portal and it showed I owed nothing,” he says.
Kruger is one of more than 2,780 students who have received funding support towards their tertiary studies thanks to Feenix. ”This is not just a small fee that was paid. This is something that has changed someone’s life forever. So, from the bottom of my heart, I am eternally grateful. I can now take on the next stages of my academic studies, debt-free,” he adds.
“For many young South Africans like Brandon, accessing tertiary education is one of their biggest obstacles. Often, access to education is out of reach with many forced to abandon their studies because they are unable to afford student fees,” says Leana de Beer, CEO of Feenix.
NCR was one of the contributors this quarter, with a large contribution to students studying towards tech and ICT qualifications.
“We recognise our social responsibility in a society bravely struggling with transformation. We were grateful for the opportunity to assist multiple students together with the team at Feenix,” says Russel Berman, Managing Director at NCR.
“It is our goal to give back to our amazing country wherever possible, even better, if we can make a difference in our sector of the economy. We are seeing such a high standard of young graduates entering the job market and it’s our hope to hire as many as possible. Our donation will assist students in settling their student debts and start their career on the front foot. We look forward to changing more lives in 2022 as we continue to work with Feenix in making a difference and creating a brighter future for all”, added Berman.
Just over 30% of the students funded this quarter were either graduates or final year students. Thanks to the financial relief of crowdfunding, they’ll be able to enter the job market and pursue their dream careers. 100% of the funding went to students from previously disadvantaged groups, of which the large majority are from historically disadvantaged universities. This is contributing massively towards transformation goals within the workforce as well as the Higher Education sector.
Since inception in June 2017 the Feenix community has successfully raised over R117,1 million in student debt.
Students seeking assistance can create a profile on the website, which they can use to raise funds for their studies. Corporates and individual funders can invest any amount over R100 to help the students settle their debt.