Student Bursaries – What Is A Student Bursary and How To Apply?

The cost of schooling in an advanced country can be quite expensive. Putting together tuition fees, books, accommodation, study materials and equipment, and many more, all these cost a lot. In some cases, courses might require travels, excursions, and certain clothes, which is yet another form of expense. All these might come with additional stress to students who have no financial aid or whose parents have the less financial capability.

Therefore, it is important to discover how to cover such expenses and scale through the walls of a university. In this context, expositions will be made on student bursary and how helpful the financial aid scheme is to eligible students. Read through the lines for a detailed understanding.

What Is A Student Bursary?

A student bursary is a form of financial aid given to students by a governmental or an educational institution. These comes as cash with more narrow criteria and are made available strictly for students who are from low-income earning backgrounds and care leavers.

It is usually given to students when they are unable to keep up with academic activities in their school, college, or university due to little or no funding. Other times, bursaries are available for students on specific courses with additional expenses.

Student bursaries are usually awarded based on financial capability and not academic merit. This implies that a student with good academic performance might not be eligible for a bursary if such student has stable financial assistance from parents or sponsors.

A bursary may be given to eligible students in termly installments or as a huge amount at the beginning of the academic session. Also, they are available sometimes directly from the university or institution of higher learning; and other times through charities, trusts, local councils, and other organizations.

Although it is called an award, it does not seem competitive. Bursaries are sometimes awarded to students on a first-come-first-served basis. Hence, early application is advisable before the pot is empty.


Difference Between Student Loan and Bursary

A lot of people often find student bursary confusing with a student loan. This could be due to the state of the duo being financial aid to students, however, they are different in some ways.

A student loan is specially designed to help students (undergraduates) cover the cost of schooling. It is money lent to students to help them pay up their tuition fees, buy books, and do some other essentials. Student loans usually cover other integral expenses accommodation, field trips, and more.

Student loans are usually awarded to students based on their family income and always come with an interest rate. If a student receives a loan, he would be asked to pay back the full amount and the accumulated interest.

Although interest rates are often low and students sometimes get an extended deadline to pay up the loan. The extension depends on the kind of loan the student was awarded. There are two types of student loans and they are:

  • Tuition fee loan

This type of student loan is awarded to students to help them pay up course fees. This loan is usually paid directly to the university (on behalf of the student).

  • Maintenance loan

A maintenance loan is a form of financial aid given to students to help them cover living costs. The amount a student can receive as a loan solely depends on where the student chooses to study (or is studying). Other factors that determine how much can be awarded to a student include the student’s age, student’s income, and parents’ income. This money is paid directly to the student’s bank account at the beginning of each semester/term.

Bursaries on the other hand are awarded to students without them having to pay back any amount or interest. While there may be academic requirements for students in some cases, the main aim of student bursary is to give help to students who have no means to afford school.

Just as it is with a student loan, this form of financial aid also vary in amount. Also, some companies may require that students repay the bursary by signing a work contract with them. A type of bursary where a student’s income or family income is not of concern is donor bursary. This is awarded to deserving candidates in a field of study in recognition of such a person’s work in that field.

As closely related as they might look it is evident that student bursary and student loan are not the same. The fact that students do not need to pay back any amount nor interest makes it an ideal option.


Who needs a student bursary?

Unlike scholarships that are opened to everyone and based on academic performance, bursaries have limitations. Certain students can apply for a student bursary. A student will be eligible for a one if they fall in the following category:

  • The students (and parents, or guardian) has given their consent
  • The student is currently schooling
  • The family income is less than CAD 20,000
  • The student living in an area where there is low participation of young people in higher education
  • The student possesses a disability or long term health condition
  • The student is from a care background
  • The student lives in a hostel/foyer or share accommodation

All these duly outline the student who needs financial assistance and subsequently would be eligible for a student bursary. Contrarily, students might not be eligible for bursaries if they are:

  • Postgraduate students
  • Part-time students
  • Students paying a reduced rate tuition fees
  • Students on a sandwich/placement year
  • Sponsored or NHS-funded students

How to find student bursary

It is not enough to be eligible for a bursary, knowing where to find one is important as well. Amazingly, the best student bursary schemes are around if you look close to home.


For undergraduates, the school is one of the easiest places to find bursaries. This is because many institutions have financial aid schemes that are made available to help students scale through the hurdles of schooling costs. Try talking to your career department there may be information on aid you can get your hands on.

Another approach is to surf your university’s website for the bursaries on offer for students (alongside the eligibility and deadline). Getting in touch with the student union’s welfare office is suggested as well.

Furthermore, you can hit up local authorities and councils. A good number of them have available programs and funds set aside to help higher education students living in that community.

Next is to keep an eye on publications from regional government direct. Most of these government bursaries often come as publications through periodicals like journals, magazines, and newspapers. So, you might want to stay updated via these periodic publications.

Lastly, if you are returning to study (perhaps after internship or leave of absence) never miss the logic of asking your employer for bursaries. Most job centers and employers have back-to-school incentives.


How to apply for a student bursary

The process of applying for a bursary as well as the eligibility depends on the university or body providing the aid. Therefore, it is important to read and understand each detail when applying for a bursary.

In most cases, universities provide bursaries based on the income of the parents. The income in this context also vary from one institution to another, it could be higher in one and lower in another.

Many Canadian universities have a streamlined system to make sure that bursary applications and criteria are stated simply and can automatically be awarded to those who are eligible. This implies that if you give room for your student finance company to share information with your university, you would automatically receive financial aid when your family income falls within the category set by your university.

Aside from university-based bursaries, there are many others awarded by governmental and private bodies. Also, these bursaries come with different criteria for eligibility, hence, applicants are advised to read instructions well.

While it is a bad practice to apply to more than one bursary at a time (as some bodies do not allow such), you can try applying for external bodies if you don’t qualify for the one that is government-funded or from your university. Charitable organizations are one of the external bodies offering bursaries, although criteria may be broader.

Lastly, when applying for this, try to do so as early as possible. This will help you avoid rejections faced by students after applying for bursaries.


Are Bursaries Considered A Taxable Income In Canada?

According to, Post-secondary school bursaries are not taxable if you received them in 2020 for your enrolment in a program if you are considered a full-time qualifying student for 2019, 2020 or 2021.

Some common reasons for rejection of student bursary’s application

After successfully applying for a bursary, students usually keep their hope high toward being selected. However, it saddens to realize that your application was rejected due to certain things you did not put into place. Was your previous application rejected? Or do you want to know the reasons why your application might not be considered? Below are some reasons for the rejection of student applications.

  • You were not eligible for the bursary

The first reason why bursaries would be rejected is due to ineligibility. Every bursary body has its criteria for eligibility as well as other requirements (which could be changed anytime). Hence, you should not hesitate to read the criteria perfectly and know that you are eligible to apply.

  • You did not apply to the bursary

One thing that breaks heart so much is realizing that you did not apply to the bursary. How is this possible? Possibly you fell for a scam! It is often easy to point out scams from the real ones, however, there are times they look so closely related. One way to avoid this is to contact the body or scheme directly. All organizations have a solid online presence, this way you can make your online research thoroughly before applying for a bursary.

  • You missed the deadline

Pointing out that you are likely to be awarded a bursary is enough anxiety to forget you have not completed your application. A lot of candidates start with the application process but get distracted along the way, hence, missing out on the important part of the application process. Another reason why students miss deadlines is applying to many bursaries thereby missing out on the deadline of the most important ones. No matter how busy you are, always take out time to complete your application form.

  • You applied to more than one bursary

While there is no limit to several bursaries a student can apply for, some external bodies do not allow students to apply for more than one. The first step is to research and know if the body in charge of the bursary you are applying for allows students to apply for others as well. If the body doesn’t allow such, then you know you are at a reduced odd of being awarded the bursary if you go ahead and apply for other bodies with same financial aid.

  • You provided incorrect contact details

Lastly, this is amazing but a common mistake people make when applying to bursaries. When contact details are provided incorrectly, you automatically deprive yourself of any chance of being awarded the bursary. Even when you are eventually awarded, you would not be notified (rather someone else would receive the notification on your behalf). To avoid that, check your phone number, email, and other information before submission.

Other reasons for the rejection of student’s bursary application include:

  • Student attached irrelevant/incomplete documents
  • A student sent an incomplete application form
  • Student submitted a dirty or torn application
  • The student didn’t answer the questions correctly
  • The student used an impossible-to-read fancy font
  • The student submitted a younger photo as your ‘recent’ picture
  • The student simply was off-point from the beginning
  • The student gave vague descriptions in their