Top 10 Bursary Application Tips for South Africans

The bursary has become the major financial backup for most students who wish to get higher education. Do not apply yet, take your time to check these tips before you decide on application.

Are you a South African student dreaming of pursuing higher education but worried about the financial burden? Well, you’re not alone. Many South Africans face the same challenge.


Fortunately, bursaries can be a lifesaver. They offer financial aid to deserving students, helping them achieve their academic dreams.

In this article, I will provide you with the top 10 bursary application tips tailored for South Africans. Follow these guidelines to increase your chances of securing the financial support you need to excel in your studies.

Before we start, take your time and look at the table of contents below. It shows the overview of the topics treated on this page. If you find any topic interesting, you can click on the link to jump to the particular topic.

What is a bursary?

A bursary is like a special kind of scholarship or financial help that is given to students to help them pay for their education.

It’s usually given to students who have done well in school or have a specific talent or need. Unlike a loan, you don’t have to pay a bursary back, so it’s like a gift to help you go to school or college. It’s meant to make education more affordable for people who might not be able to afford it otherwise.

Example of bursaries for South Africans

Various organizations and institutions offer bursaries to support talented individuals who may not have the financial means to afford tertiary education. Here are a few examples of bursaries available to South Africans:

  • The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)
  • Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship
  • The South African Institute of Race Relations Bursary Scheme
  • The FNB Fund Bursary Programme
  • The Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET)
  • Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme
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10 Bursary Application Tips for South Africans

Filing your application shouldn’t be a problem at all but filing it the right way is very necessary. Here are some tips that you must consider when filing applications for bursaries.

1. Start Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to search for bursaries. Begin your search as early as possible, preferably a year before you plan to start your studies.

This will give you ample time to research and apply for various bursary opportunities. You will also get to know the necessary procedures and ways to get approved for such applications.

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2. Research thoroughly

South Africa offers a wide range of bursaries, each with its own eligibility criteria and application requirements.

Research and compile a list of bursaries that align with your field of study and qualifications. This will increase your chances of actually getting approved by many folds.

3. Check eligibility

Carefully review the eligibility criteria for each bursary you’re interested in. Make sure you meet all the requirements before investing time in the application process.

Knowing the eligibility criteria and knowing you are eligible before filing the application will increase your chances of getting approved greatly.

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4. Craft a stellar resume

Prepare a well-organized resume that highlights your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and community involvement. A well-structured resume can make a strong impression on bursary selection committees.

5. Write a compelling personal statement

Most bursary applications require a personal statement or essay. Take the time to write a sincere and compelling essay explaining your goals, aspirations, and why you deserve the bursary.

These are some of the things that the committee looks at when you are applying.

6. Gather required documents

Ensure you have all the necessary documents, such as academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and identification, ready before starting the application process.

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7. Follow instructions carefully

Every step you must follow is carefully outlined on the bursaries’ websites and application guides. Pay close attention to the application guidelines provided by each bursary program. Failing to follow instructions can result in your application being rejected.

8. Apply for multiple bursaries

Don’t limit yourself to just one bursary application. Apply for as many as you qualify for to increase your chances of receiving financial assistance.

Make sure you do not apply to the same bursary multiple times. Applying multiple times will result in getting your application rejected but applying to different bursaries at the same time should be fine.

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9. Proofread your application

Before submitting your application, proofread it carefully to eliminate errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. A polished application reflects your attention to detail and commitment.

10. Submit the application on time

Submit your applications well before the deadlines. Late submissions are typically not considered, no matter how qualified you may be.


Here are some common questions people frequently ask about this topic. If you have any question that has not been answered here, kindly leave it in the comment section and I will reply as early as possible.

Can I apply for bursaries if I’m already enrolled in a university or college?

Yes, some bursaries are available to current students. However, most opportunities are for incoming students or those in their final year of high school, so it’s essential to check the eligibility criteria for each bursary.

Do I have to pay back the money received through a bursary?

Typically, bursaries do not require repayment. They are considered financial gifts or grants, provided you meet the conditions specified by the bursary provider.

Are there bursaries available for part-time or online courses?

Yes, there are bursaries available for part-time, online, and distance learning programs. Be sure to search for bursaries that specifically cater to your mode of study.


Applying for bursaries in South Africa can be a game-changer in your pursuit of higher education. By following these top 10 bursary application tips, you can significantly enhance your chances of securing the financial support you need to achieve your academic goals. Remember, diligence and thorough preparation are key to a successful bursary application process.

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