This time of the year can be tough on students as they have to contend with logistical stress such as accommodation, registration fees and inefficient financial aid or bursary schemes that delay allowance distribution. Many of them go hungry and end up with nowhere to stay.
The following tools can help you trade in anxiety for relief:
Home is where the heart is
Estate agents sometimes take advantage of desperate students seeking accommodation, so before signing any documents and paying a deposit, make sure that your agent is accredited and registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB). Ask your agent to provide you with their Fidelity Fund Certificate as proof of registration, or visit the EAAB’s website (eaab.org.za) and search for their name on the list of compliant estate agents.
Thoroughly read and understand your lease agreement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about any costs not included in the basic rent fee. Inspect the premises to make sure that you’re getting value for money and that it is safe. Make sure you speak to other students who have lived in the area to get an idea of what to expect and how to deal with challenges.
Put your thinking cap on
For those enrolled in their first year, higher education institutions can be overwhelming spaces. Acquaint yourself with career counselling and get advice early – while you can still change your modules or your degree entirely. Don’t be afraid to set appointments with the dean of your faculty or to speak to students who are studying your prospective degree to get an understanding of what to expect. Learn about all the faculties and resources at your disposal, and attend all the relevant workshops, including ones on plagiarism, to ensure that you’re well prepared for the start of the academic year.
Be crafty with your cash
Learn how to negotiate payment plans with your higher education institution. You should also consider getting creative regarding how to raise money for registration fees.
Many students received assistance by posting their plight on social media and connecting with people who were willing to help them out. Several institutions also offer academic rebates and, if your studies are financed by a bursary or financial aid scheme, it is advisable to continuously follow up to ensure that your fees are sorted out. Also make alternative accommodation arrangements in case there are delays.
Verify your institution
Avoid getting duped by fly-by-night institutions by double-checking that your college is accredited. You can call the department of higher education and training on 080 087 2222 or visit dhet.gov.za and the SA Qualifications Authority (saqa.org.za) to access the list of accredited higher education institutions.