Students hard at work at Walter Sisulu University in South Africa, where a recent financial error has people asking for answers.

A college student loan borrower in South Africa accidently received a deposit of $1 million in her financial aid account and proceeded to spend over $60,000 of the funds, which she will very likely be held responsible for.

The colossal error in financing took place at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The student, who only was supposed to receive $100 for food and books, woke up to find $1 million loaded onto her financial aid debit card.

The money was immediately available to the student according to Intellimali, the company that is responsible for distributing the student loan debit cards.

WSU officials became aware of the financing mistake after another student picked up on the female student’s irregular spending habits. In a statement to The Times Live, university spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo said the following: "Some students picked this up from the very lavish lifestyle she started living. We will also be looking into how this money was spent to buy some of the expensive goods."

Although several South African media outlets discovered the name of the student, WSU officials will not be releasing her personal details as is par with South African law. However, the school officials did confirm she will not be answering media requests and will not be making an official statement.

Both Intellimali and WSU stand by their assertions that the student spent over $60,000 of the financial aid money in mere weeks, instead of reporting the error to the appropriate authorities. The student’s full financial transaction history is now under audit to determine the severity of her spending spree.

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Additionally, the student’s financial aid account is now blocked and her remaining financial aid balance has been retracted. It is expected that the student will be forced to repay all of the money that she spent and that Intellimali will take legal action.

"It was very callous and she did not report the matter immediately. She will definitely be held responsible‚" Tukwayo said.

Intellimali took full blame for the egregious error and stated that new policies have already been put in place to guarantee an event like this does not happen again. In their press release, Intellimali stated that neither WSU nor the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) are responsible for the financial mistake.

NSFAS is the South African organization that supplies universities with lump sum payments to be dispersed amongst financial aid borrowers. They are demanding a full report from both Intellimali and WSU.

NSFAS Acting Executive Officer, Mr Lerato Nage, said: “We wrote a letter and urged the university management to submit an official report as soon as possible to enable us to provide factual information to our funders, stakeholders, and the students.”

Believe it or not, this is not the first time The Student Loan Report has covered a student loan related story in South Africa. In February, SLR covered the story regarding the NSFAS’s announcement that over 50,000 South African students who were relying on financial aid to afford college did not qualify for said aid. Students that did not qualify were likely halted by one of two reasons. The first being that their family earned too much money. The second being that the student had a poor academic performance record. 

Image Copyright © Dinilohlanga Mekuto