Alternative Bursaries and Scholarships

Alternative Bursaries and Scholarships (Pixabay)

Everyone wants an opportunity to study for the career of their choice after finishing school. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to study after school with one of the main reasons for being a lack of funding. There are, however, options that students can pursue in order to attend college and/or university: bursaries and scholarships.

Normally, students would apply for a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary. However, as the current application window to apply for an NSFAS grant has closed (for the time being, anyway), students are forced to look for alternative bursaries and scholarship opportunities.

Let’s take a look at some of these alternative bursaries and scholarships but first, what are they exactly?

What are Bursaries and Scholarships?

Bursaries exist solely to provide funding to students who are unable to pay for their own tuition. An example of a student bursary scheme would be NSFAS. With over 55 000+ recipients, they’re the largest student financial aid scheme in South Africa.

Scholarships are financial aid schemes that are awarded to high achieving students in terms of their academic or sporting achievements. Most scholarships offered in South Africa are for postgraduate (honours, masters and doctoral included) studies. Examples include the Harvard South Africa Fellowship Programme and the Old Mutual Educational Trust (OMET) Scholarship.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch’’

That’s how the saying goes anyway. Whenever you receive something, there will always be some sort of catch involved. The same can be said about bursaries and scholarships.

Bursaries are seen as a student loan i.e. payment has to be made back to whoever invested in a student’s education. Most bursaries offered are interest-free. The amount that was paid for a student’s tuition would, therefore, be the amount owed.

Other forms of bursaries come with stipulations that include when a student completes their tertiary education, they are obliged to work for the company that invested in their future for a number of years until they’ve repaid the faith that the business invested in them.

When it comes to scholarships (fellowships), it comes with the same standards: Institutions issue scholarships to well-deserving students with the intention of reaping the rewards of their investment in years to come.

Think of scholarships as a gift – but with benefits; quid pro quo – I scratch your back and you scratch mine. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing. As you’re receive something, there is an expectation that there should be some form of repayment.

Read More: Unisa Exam Results Release Dates 2019

A Third Option?

There is a third option when it comes to providing funding to potential students: student loans.

Student loans are loans borrowed by students from financial institutions to be used for university tuition. It is a loan that has to be paid back over time to the borrower, with interest.

The way student loans can work is that a student and a working parent apply for a student loan. The parent/student would have to pay the interest amount of the loan on a monthly basis for the duration of the student’s studies. Upon graduation, it falls to the student to repay the rest of the loan through monthly installments.

Student loans are NOT zero-rated. They are, instead, offered with low-interest rates. Always remember that while the financial institutions are there to help you, they’re also in the business of making money.

Fortunately, the issuer of the loan can oblige to give the student a 3 – 6-month leeway before requiring repayments of the loan. It’s not to say that they should give a leeway period, but they usually do. This is due to a large chance of unemployment after graduation. The graduate should thus spend the leeway time on securing employment for themselves.

Should the leeway term expire, it’s therefore up to the parent/guardian to cover repayments until graduates find employment. Repayments of student loans are usually in the form of fixed monthly installments.

Student loans are therefore seen as a valuable third option for those that do not qualify for a bursary or a scholarship.

What Student Funding Options are Available?

From the engineering to law to the financial sector, there are a number of options available to students in all kinds of fields (when it comes to student funding and financing). These are some of the best available current student funding options at this moment in time (as of 7 August 2019):



Student Loans

Government Institutions

What Option Should I Choose?

There are many options when it comes to student funding, so it’s not surprising that students can feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. The most important thing to do is to weigh up your options and as a result, see whether the qualification that you’re studying matches the requirements of those supplying financial aid.

Also Read: Guide To Applying At UNISA 2020

Last Updated: 18 December 2022