Crafting a Compelling Bursary Motivational Letter – Tips and Examples


Table of Contents

Crafting an Effective Bursary Motivational Letter: Your Key to Educational Opportunities

Pursuing higher education is a worthy goal, but one that can carry a heavy financial burden. A bursary provides invaluable financial assistance, covering tuition and living expenses so you can focus on your studies.

With many students competing for limited bursary funding, a compelling motivational letter is essential to stand out. This guide will equip you to craft a letter that showcases your worthiness and passion. Read on to maximize your chances of bursary success!

Bursary Motivational Letter


How Much Do Bursaries Pay In South Africa?

Learn How to Secure a Full Bursary in South Africa – Step-by-Step Guide

Bursaries for 2024 Undergraduate South Africa – Funding Your Education

Bursaries in South Africa for Foreigners 2024/2025- Opportunities for Financial Support

Understanding Bursaries

Before diving into motivational letter writing, let’s review the basics of bursaries.

A bursary is a monetary award given to students to cover education costs. The key goal is making quality education accessible by easing financial obstacles.

There are a few common types of bursaries:

  • Merit-based – Awarded based on outstanding academic performance.
  • Need-based – Given to disadvantaged students demonstrating financial need.
  • Subject-specific – Offered for certain study fields like medicine or accounting.

The Significance of a Motivational Letter

The motivational letter is arguably the most vital part of a bursary application. It brings your profile to life and lets the selection committee get to know your personality, passions and dreams.

A compelling letter can make you stand out from other applicants with similar grades and accomplishments. It provides the chance to reveal your individuality.

Key Components of a Bursary Motivational Letter

While each letter is unique, strong letters tend to include these elements:

Personal Introduction

Briefly introduce yourself and your educational aspirations. Share what motivates you as a student and individual.

Academic Achievements

Highlight your proudest academic and intellectual accomplishments. Connect them to your future career dreams.

Extracurricular Activities

Share any meaningful involvement in sports, clubs, societies, volunteer work or causes. Show your interests beyond academics.

Financial Need

Politely and honestly explain any need for bursary funding due to your financial situation.

Future Goals

Describe your career aspirations and how the bursary will empower you to achieve them and give back to society.

Connection to Provider’s Values

Research the provider and relate your own values/goals to their mission.

Crafting a Captivating Introduction

The introduction grabs attention right away. Consider these tips:

  • Open with a compelling statement about yourself or an anecdote that draws the reader in.
  • If you have any connection to the bursary provider, mention it upfront to establish rapport.
  • Briefly introduce yourself, your current studies and your motivation for applying.

Showcasing Academic Achievements

Illustrate your academic merit through:

  • Specific grade averages, distinctions, or awards.
  • Examples of outstanding assignments, projects or research activities.
  • Academic honors like valedictorian status or Dean’s List recognition.
  • Relating achievements to future career/study plans.

Incorporating Extracurricular Activities

Although grades come first, bursary committees also want well-rounded individuals. Share activities like:

  • Sports, music, or arts involvement.
  • Clubs and societies you participate in.
  • Volunteer work experience.
  • Leadership roles that exhibit teamwork and responsibility.

Addressing Financial Need

If applying for a need-based bursary, delicately explain your financial situation, emphasizing:

  • How receiving this bursary would impact your studies and future.
  • Specific financial challenges your family faces.
  • Any jobs you work to self-fund education.

Aligning Career Aspirations with Bursary Goals

Link your career plans to the bursary provider’s goals. For example:

  • If applying for a medical bursary, explain your dream of becoming a doctor and serving your community.
  • For an accounting bursary, describe your motivation to become a CPA.

This shows how you’ll leverage the bursary to benefit society long-term.

Researching the Bursary Provider

Get to know the organization or individual offering the bursary. Incorporate their values and mission into your letter.

For example, if the bursary supports women in science, mention how this aligns with your own vision to empower future female engineers.

Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Bursary Motivational Letter

Follow these top tips:


  • Stick to 1-2 pages max.
  • Use a professional but personable tone.
  • Proofread extensively for errors.
  • Include concrete examples of achievements.
  • Express passion and purpose.
  • Research the provider thoroughly.


  • Exceed length requirements.
  • Use clichés or flowery language.
  • Include sensitive personal details.
  • Copy sample letters verbatim.
  • Exaggerate accomplishments.
  • Appear entitled to funding.

Bursary Motivational Letter Sample

Below is an annotated bursary motivational letter example with notes explaining what makes it effective:

Dear Bursary Selection Committee,

Starts with formal address

My name is Zoe Mthembu, and I am a 1st year BSc student at the University of Cape Town majoring in Biological Sciences. I was elated to discover the Limpopo Wildlife Conservation Bursary. As an aspiring conservation biologist born and raised in Limpopo, supporting wildlife preservation in my home province would be a dream. This bursary would mean the world to me.

Strong opening immediately establishes her background, goals and connection to bursary provider.

Academics have always been my passion. I matriculated from Capital Park High with an average of 92%, including Top Achiever awards in Biology and Earth Sciences. At UCT, I’ve maintained a GPA of 8.7, placing me on the Dean’s List for the past two semesters. My proudest academic achievement is the research project I conducted in my spare time modeling population dynamics of African wild dogs. My paper was published in the South African Journal of Wildlife Research, inspiring me to pursue a career protecting endangered species.

Showcases standout academic performance and extracurricular research excellence relevant to her study interests.

While I spend much of my time hitting the books, I’m also an avid hockey player and photographer. As Vice Captain of my high school team, I learned invaluable leadership and teamwork skills. Now on the UCT women’s team, hockey keeps me energized physically and mentally. My passion for photography developed while documenting wildlife in Limpopo’s national parks. Capturing nature’s beauty through my lens made me appreciate the importance of conservation.

Reveals well-roundedness through extracurricular activities tied back to her goals.

Unfortunately, as the first in my family to attend university, we face financial obstacles. My single mother works tirelessly as a nurse, but cannot fund tuition alone. I work part-time as a tutor, but even with financial aid we struggle to get by. This bursary would be a game changer, allowing me to complete my degree unburdened. I aspire to obtain my PhD in Zoology and conduct impactful research protecting endangered African species. With your support, I know I can achieve this dream.

Honestly describes financial need and powerfully explains the life-changing impact of this bursary in furthering her goals.

The Limpopo Wildlife Conservation Bursary strongly aligns with my personal ethos of environmental stewardship. Having grown up exploring Limpopo’s breathtaking biodiversity, I am deeply committed to ensuring these habitats thrive for generations. This bursary would empower me to gain the necessary scientific expertise to serve as a steward for Limpopo’s wildlife. I sincerely appreciate you considering my application. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any additional information.

Connects her values and background to the bursary provider’s mission.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.

Zoe Mthembu

Concludes politely with enthusiasm and gratitude.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a bursary motivational letter?

A motivational letter is a 1-2 page personal statement submitted with a bursary application explaining why you deserve the funding. It highlights achievements, goals, financial need and passion.

How long should a bursary motivational letter be?

Aim for 1-2 pages single spaced or 500 – 1000 words. Follow any exact guidelines provided. Concise and compelling is best.

Can I use a template for my letter?

No, each letter should be unique and personal. Avoid simply copying samples. Express yourself genuinely.

Should I include personal challenges in the letter?

Use discretion sharing sensitive issues. Minor challenges can elicit sympathy if presented politely. Focus on positives.

How can I tailor my letter for different bursary providers?

Research each provider and customize your content to align with their particular mission and values.

Is it necessary to mention extracurricular activities?

Absolutely. Top bursaries look for well-rounded candidates. Showcase activities that complement your goals.

How should I address the letter if the recipient is unknown?

“Dear Bursary Selection Committee” or “To Whom It May Concern” are perfectly acceptable.

What tone should I use in the letter?

Be professional yet personable. Avoid being too formal, emotional or informal. Enthusiasm for your goals is key.

Can I include humor or personal anecdotes?

A small touch can help you connect with the reader, but avoid anything that could be perceived as unprofessional.

How can I conclude the letter effectively?

End by politely expressing your appreciation for consideration and reiterating your passion. Include contact details.

What supporting documents should accompany the letter?

Include transcripts, extracurricular certificates, financial aid paperwork, ID copy and any other requested documents.

How to follow up after submitting the bursary application?

If you don’t hear back within the specified time period, email politely to check on the status. Avoid pestering excessively though.

What are common reasons for bursary rejection?

Poor academics, improper documents, no financial need, disorganization, failure to follow instructions, and not tailoring the letter to the provider.

Should I seek professional help for letter writing?

Only if you genuinely struggle with writing. The letter should sound like your genuine voice. Ask a teacher to review it.

Are there resources for additional bursary application tips?

Yes, many organizations like The Bursary Bin provide free online resources to strengthen applications.

Can I reapply for the same bursary in the future?

Absolutely. Many students receive bursaries on their 2nd or 3rd application. Just be sure to improve your application each time.

How should I handle multiple bursary applications?

Focus on customizing each letter and application to fit the specific provider. Meet all deadlines.

Is it necessary to address any gaps in my academic record?

Briefly explain any legitimate reasons impacting your grades like health issues. Emphasize positive progress.

Can a strong letter compensate for lower academic grades?

To an extent, yes. Passion can outweigh grades for some bursaries. But academics should be your top priority.

How should I format the bursary motivational letter?

Use business letter format. 1″ margins, single spacing, clear section headings, size 11-12 professional font like Arial or Times New Roman.


A thoughtful, passionate bursary motivational letter can make all the difference in accessing life-changing educational funding. While high grades come first, your letter provides the chance to bring your application to life. Showcase your personality and potential while aligning with the provider’s values. With these tips, you can craft a letter that convinces the committee to invest in your future. Believe in yourself, and go after every opportunity to fulfill your academic dreams!


Leave a Reply