HomeScholarshipDifference Between a Bursary and a Scholarship

Difference Between a Bursary and a Scholarship

A bursary is a financial aid awarded based on financial need, while a scholarship is awarded based on academic achievement or other criteria. Both assist students in funding their education, but they differ in their eligibility requirements and selection criteria.

Definition of Bursary

A bursary is a form of financial aid provided to students based on their financial needs. It is typically offered by institutions, organizations, or government bodies to support students who may need more means to fund their education fully.

Bursaries aim to alleviate the financial burden on students from low-income backgrounds. A bursary is a form of financial assistance provided to students based on their demonstrated financial need.

It serves as a means to alleviate the financial burden of education for individuals who may lack sufficient resources to cover their academic expenses.


Definition of Scholarship

A scholarship is a merit-based award given to students based on their academic achievements, talents, or other criteria.

Scholarships are often awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance, leadership qualities, or talents in specific fields. Educational institutions, private organizations, or government agencies typically offer them.

A scholarship is a merit-based award given to students in recognition of their academic achievements, talents, or other criteria. It aims to support deserving individuals by providing financial assistance for their education.


Purpose and Criteria

Bursaries are intended to provide financial assistance to students who demonstrate financial need. The criteria for obtaining a bursary usually include factors such as household income, family size, and any other financial obligations.

The primary purpose of bursaries is to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to education. On the other hand, scholarships aim to reward academic excellence, talent, or achievements in specific areas.

The criteria for obtaining a scholarship may vary depending on the provider but often include academic performance, extracurricular activities, community involvement, or specialized skills.


Financial Assistance

Bursaries provide financial assistance to cover various educational expenses, including tuition fees, books, accommodation, and other related costs. The amount of financial aid offered through a bursary may vary depending on the student’s financial situation and the policies of the awarding institution or organization.

Similarly, scholarships also offer financial assistance to students, but the focus is on rewarding merit rather than financial need. Scholarship funds may cover tuition fees, living expenses, research costs, or other educational expenses, depending on the terms of the scholarship.


Application Process

The application process for bursaries usually requires students to demonstrate their financial need through documentation such as income statements, tax returns, or proof of financial hardship.

Applicants may also need to submit essays, letters of recommendation, or personal statements outlining their circumstances and why they require financial assistance.

The application process for scholarships typically involves demonstrating academic achievement, leadership qualities, or other specified criteria. Applicants may need to submit transcripts, resumes, portfolios, or letters of recommendation to support their application for a scholarship.



Bursaries may be renewable or non-renewable depending on the terms set by the awarding institution or organization.

Renewable bursaries often require students to maintain a certain level of academic performance or demonstrate ongoing financial need to continue receiving funding for subsequent years of study.

Similarly, scholarships may be renewable or non-renewable based on the criteria established by the scholarship provider. Renewable scholarships may require students to maintain a specified grade point average (GPA), participate in extracurricular activities, or fulfill other conditions to retain the scholarship for additional years.


Duration and Conditions

The duration of bursaries may vary depending on the program or institution offering the financial aid. Some bursaries may cover expenses for a single academic year, while others may provide support for the duration of a student’s degree program. Conditions attached to bursaries may include:

  • Maintaining a certain GPA.
  • Enrolling in a minimum number of credits.
  • Participating in specific programs or activities.

Likewise, the duration of scholarships may vary, with some scholarships providing funding for a single academic year and others covering the entire duration of a student’s undergraduate or graduate studies. Conditions attached to scholarships may include:

  • Maintaining a high GPA.
  • Participating in research or internship opportunities.
  • Fulfilling other requirements outlined by the scholarship provider.



Bursaries may be available from a variety of sources, including educational institutions, government agencies, private foundations, or corporations. Some bursaries may be specific to certain fields of study, demographic groups, or geographic regions, while others may be more broadly available to eligible students.

Similarly, scholarships may be available from a range of providers, including colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, corporations, or government agencies. Scholarships may be targeted toward specific academic disciplines, demographic groups, or areas of interest, with eligibility criteria varying depending on the scholarship program.


Merit vs. Need

One of the key differences between bursaries and scholarships is the basis on which they are awarded.

Bursaries are primarily awarded based on financial need, with the aim of assisting students who may not have the means to fund their education independently. In contrast, scholarships are awarded based on merit, talent, or achievement, rewarding students for their academic performance or other accomplishments.

In the context of financial aid, “Merit vs. Need” refers to the distinction between scholarships, which are awarded based on academic or extracurricular achievement, and bursaries, which are granted based on financial necessity.



There are various types of bursaries available to students, including general bursaries, need-based bursaries, merit-based bursaries, and subject-specific bursaries.

General bursaries provide financial assistance to students with demonstrated financial need, while need-based bursaries specifically target students from low-income backgrounds. Merit-based bursaries reward academic excellence or other achievements, while subject-specific bursaries support students studying particular fields or disciplines.

Similarly, scholarships come in many forms, including academic scholarships, athletic scholarships, artistic scholarships, and minority scholarships. Academic scholarships reward students for their academic achievements, while athletic scholarships support student-athletes who excel in sports.

Artistic scholarships recognize talent and creativity in areas such as music, visual arts, or performing arts, while minority scholarships aim to increase access to education for underrepresented groups.


Impact on Education

Both bursaries and scholarships play a crucial role in facilitating access to education and helping students achieve their academic goals.

Bursaries provide vital financial support to students from low-income backgrounds, ensuring that financial constraints do not prevent them from pursuing higher education. Scholarships recognize and reward academic excellence, talent, and achievement, motivating students to excel in their studies and pursue their aspirations.

The significant influence that bursaries and scholarships have on students’ academic pursuits. These financial aids enhance access to education, promote academic success, and contribute to the overall development of individuals and society.



While bursaries and scholarships provide valuable financial assistance to students, they may have limitations in terms of eligibility criteria, availability, and funding amounts.

Some students may need to meet the criteria for certain bursaries or scholarships, limiting their access to financial aid. Additionally, the availability of bursaries and scholarships may vary depending on factors such as geographic location, field of study, or demographic group.

Furthermore, the amount of funding provided through bursaries and scholarships may only sometimes cover all educational expenses, leaving students with additional financial burdens.


Bursaries vs. Scholarships

When it comes to pursuing higher education, navigating the financial landscape can be daunting. However, understanding the nuances between different types of financial aid can significantly ease this process. Two common forms of assistance are bursaries and scholarships, each serving distinct purposes.


Bursaries: A Lifeline for Financial Need

Bursaries, often misunderstood, play a crucial role in supporting students with financial constraints. These awards are primarily need-based, aiming to alleviate the financial burden on deserving candidates. Unlike loans, bursaries are typically non-repayable, making them an invaluable resource for those facing economic hardship.


Key Characteristics of Bursaries

  • Need-Based Assistance: Bursaries prioritize applicants with demonstrated financial need.
  • Flexible Eligibility: Criteria for bursaries vary widely, accommodating diverse backgrounds and circumstances.
  • Financial Relief: Award amounts can cover tuition, living expenses, or other educational costs, offering substantial relief.
  • Application Process: Candidates usually submit detailed financial information along with their application.

Scholarships: Recognizing Excellence

Scholarships: Recognizing Excellence

In contrast, scholarships primarily recognize academic, athletic, or extracurricular achievements. Unlike bursaries, scholarships are often merit-based, rewarding students for their exceptional performance or talents. These awards signify not only financial support but also acknowledgment of an individual’s accomplishments.


Key Characteristics of Scholarships

  • Merit-Based Criteria: Scholarships are typically awarded based on academic excellence, athletic prowess, or specific talents.
  • Diverse Opportunities: Various organizations, institutions, and corporations offer scholarships catering to a wide range of interests and fields of study.
  • Prestige and Recognition: Winning a scholarship not only provides financial aid but also enhances a student’s resume and prestige within their academic or professional community.
  • Competitive Selection Process: Due to high demand, scholarship applications often involve rigorous selection procedures, including essays, interviews, or portfolios.

Navigating the Decision: Which to Choose?

When faced with the choice between a bursary and a scholarship, students must consider their circumstances and aspirations. For those facing financial hardship, prioritizing bursaries can provide essential support. Conversely, students with exceptional academic or extracurricular records may find scholarships more accessible and rewarding.


Leveraging Financial Aid for Success

While bursaries and scholarships serve distinct purposes, both play vital roles in facilitating access to education. By understanding the differences between these forms of financial aid, students can make informed decisions and leverage available resources to pursue their academic and professional goals. Whether seeking assistance based on financial need or merit, navigating the diverse landscape of financial aid can pave the way for a brighter future.



Bursaries and scholarships are both valuable forms of financial aid that support students in pursuing their educational aspirations. While bursaries are awarded based on financial need, scholarships are awarded based on merit or achievement. Understanding the differences between bursaries and scholarships can help students identify the most appropriate sources of financial aid to support their educational journey.



What is a Bursary, and How Does it Work?

A bursary is a financial award provided to students based on demonstrated financial need. It assists in covering educational expenses such as tuition fees, books, and living costs. Bursaries are typically awarded by institutions, organizations, or government bodies to support students from low-income backgrounds.


Difference Between Scholarship and Fellowship?

Scholarships are merit-based awards given to students for academic achievement or other accomplishments, typically for undergraduate or graduate studies. Fellowships, on the other hand, are often granted for research or advanced study and may encompass financial support, mentorship, or other resources.


What is a Bursary for University?

A bursary for university is a form of financial assistance provided to students to help cover the costs associated with attending a higher education institution. It is typically awarded based on financial need and aims to support students who may require additional financial support to pursue their studies.


How do I Find Bursaries and Scholarships to Apply for?

To find bursaries and scholarships to apply for, you can utilize various resources such as online databases, university financial aid offices, community organizations, and government websites. Additionally, researching specific criteria and deadlines, as well as networking with mentors and peers, can help identify suitable opportunities.



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