Bursaries are another way to help pay for your college education, and are distinct in their differences from other common forms of financial aid such as scholarships. Coming in many different forms, the most common form of bursary often uses academic merit combined with family income to determine an amount for assistance and do not have to be repaid. These sorts of bursaries should serve as a first stop for many students seeking monetary aid for school, especially those coming from low-income families. It is common for income-based bursaries to be offered by colleges or by the government, attempting to bridge the gap between rich students with ready access to school and those from less fortunate families who may otherwise not be able to attend college.
Other forms of bursaries are offered by non-profit organizations or businesses, often given in exchange for work by the student. Bursaries are hotly sought after, and as a result, students should assess their own standing and apply for them as early as possible.
Bursaries offered by colleges tend to be need based, but also hold an academic standard. Students failing to adhere to a specified grade point average may quickly find their access to future funds stifled, so maintaining a strong academic record will only help make future funds available. As a result, college oriented bursaries are both need and merit based. Showing a financial need based not only on individual cases but also that of an applicant’s family is quite common. Once a bursary has been awarded, the merit shown through scores and grading will help determine future disbursements. Different amounts awarded will vary based on income and by geographic region. For example, students in Canada will not find bursary awards given out based on the same income situation as those from London, and students from each area should consult their individual bursary offices for available standards.
Some student bursaries are offered by non-profits or businesses and often require service for the award offered. This service may come in the form of volunteer activities, internments or promising to work for a specified amount of time after graduation. Because of the amounts that are typically offered in these student bursaries, it is not surprising to find that they are highly sought after by students and as such are very competitive. Based on merit, a bursary from a non-profit or business will look at the sorts of activities students are involved in or what basic skills they may already possess. Students who receive a bursary and then promise time worked after graduation should be keenly aware that they are legally obligated by the terms of their contracts to carry out said work, and failing to do so may result in having to repay the award. Should a student find suddenly that they would like to receive a bursary from another company, it would be wise to consult with the new business and explore the possibility of them buying out their previous obligations, thus clearing the way for them to make work promises to the new provider.
It is important to explore what bursaries you may have available to you and apply for as many as possible to better increase both your chances and access to funding. Like scholarships, bursaries come in many forms offering a wide variety to students from diverse backgrounds. Students going to school to become teachers will find bursaries available specifically to them, and the same can be said for engineering students as well as those from many other fields.
If you come from an economically disadvantaged background, stopping into your college’s bursary office should be your first step in applying for financial aid. Applying for bursaries outside with businesses or non-profits is based more in competition, so if you are able to apply for an income-based bursary, it is in your best interest to take advantage of it.
If you work somewhere currently, you should consider checking with your human resources department to see if they offer a bursary program. The same goes for any organizations you volunteer with, as it never hurts to ask.