Bursary Requirements in South Africa 2024/2025

Key Requirements for Qualifying for Bursaries in South Africa

For many South African students, bursaries provide critical funding to access tertiary education and skills development. However, qualifying for a bursary amid tight competition requires meeting certain eligibility criteria. This comprehensive guide covers the key requirements you’ll need to improve your chances of bursary approval.

Bursary Requirements in South Africa


Bursaries for 2024 Undergraduate South Africa – Funding Your Education

Bursaries for Education 2024/2025

Bursary For Teaching 2024/2025

Bursaries for Health Science 2024/2025

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

Defining Student Bursaries

First, what exactly are bursaries?

Bursaries are monetary awards provided to students to cover tuition fees, books, accommodation, and other academic expenses. They do not need to be repaid like loans.

These awards come from government, universities, private companies and foundations. Each bursary has specific qualifying criteria.

When applying, understand the target field, demographic factors, academic standing required and demonstrate your financial need if required by funders. Your background, skills and future goals should align with the bursary’s objectives.

Now let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of common requirements.

General Basic Eligibility Factors

While individual bursary eligibility can vary, several standard criteria apply to most opportunities:

South African Citizenship

Nearly all bursaries require South African citizenship or permanent residency as a baseline. Check if your status meets thresholds.

Academic Certification

A Matric certificate indicating completion of high school is mandatory. Many bursaries also accept candidates already enrolled in or accepted for tertiary study.

Minimum Academic Achievement

Previous academic performance is crucial. Most bursaries specify:

  • Minimum Matric aggregate percentages (60% is common).
  • Specific subject thresholds e.g. Math, Science, English, Accounting etc.
  • University marks for existing tertiary students applying.

Check if your grades meet the levels required.

Financial Need Assessment

Many bursaries prioritize students facing financial barriers to education. Be prepared to transparently disclose and provide evidence of economic hardship if required.

Common Additional Requirements

Meeting basic eligibility isn’t enough. Many bursaries have additional preferential criteria:

Field-Relevant Skills & Interests

If applying for niche bursaries in say, IT, engineering or healthcare, highlight previous training, internships, voluntary work or self-learning demonstrating genuine interest.

Leadership & Extracurriculars

Well-rounded candidates with leadership, teamwork or volunteering experience relevant to the bursary often stand better chances.

Accurate Motivation & Future Goals

A compelling letter of motivation summarizing why you deserve the bursary and how your skills align with funders’ objectives is invaluable.

Geographic Location

Some region-specific bursaries add criteria of originating from or studying in certain provinces. Verify you meet area requirements.

The more evidence you provide fitting funder priorities, the better positioned your application is.

Tailoring Applications to Various Funder Types

With hundreds of potential bursary sources available, strategic targeting is vital. Broadly, South African bursary funding bodies fall under:

1. Government Bursaries

  • National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides the most extensive funding opportunities based on financial need and academic merit.
  • Provincial government departments offer region-specific awards in priority skills areas.

When applying:

  • Thoroughly demonstrate your financial eligibility per fund guidelines
  • Highlight academic excellence and community upliftment potential

2. Public Universities & Technical Vocational Education (TVET) Colleges

  • Awards aim to attract top-performing students and fill diversity gaps.
  • Often require studying full-time in the same institution providing the bursary.

When applying:

  • Emphasize academic scores, co-curricular activity, and your university program fit
  • Establish financial need

3. Private Sector Companies & Trust Foundations

  • Packages target developing skills in industries and causes the funder operates in
  • Significant focus on previously disadvantaged candidates

When applying:

  • Align your background, skills, chosen degree and career goals closely with funder field of operation
  • Showcase leadership abilities and give back mindset

This matrix summarizes key considerations for common SA bursary sources:

Funder TypeKey RequirementsFocus Areas
Government (NSFAS)Income proof, Matric gradesHistorically disadvantaged groups
Public universitiesAcceptance letter, marksTop-tier students, diversity
CompaniesRelevant degrees, leadershipIndustry-related skills gaps
Trust FoundationsFinancial need, community upliftmentField-specific priorities, rural areas

Building a Strong Bursary Application

With the background above, here are 5 tips when applying:

1. Verify Eligibility

  • Carefully establish if you meet ALL baseline and preferential criteria
  • Determine any required application steps

2. Profile Fit

  • Evaluate how your background, strengths and goals map to the bursary priorities
  • Adapt your application elements to highlight alignment

3. Prepare Evidence

  • Gather documentation proving eligibility (grades, university acceptance etc.)
  • Quantify financial need where required

4. Motivation Letter

  • Articulate passion for your chosen path and the value you will derive
  • Demonstrate how the bursary will achieve development goals of funders

5. Use Available Resources

  • Leverage guidance from university financial aid offices, career centers, libraries etc.
  • Seek feedback from mentors on draft applications.

Thorough preparation demonstrating you meet – and exceed – funder requirements in a well-presented application improves your odds immensely.

Conclusion: Key Steps for Bursary Success

The wide range of public and private bursaries in South Africa provide avenues to finance tertiary studies, but securing them requires effort. Begin by extensively researching options, evaluating the eligibility and focus of each, and targeting those matching your profile and goals.

Prepare supporting documents early confirming your qualifications. Craft a compelling motivation summary that resonates with funder objectives. And tap available advisors to refine your application package.

While applying for bursaries does demand significant work, think of it as an investment into your future. The payout of finding an award enabling your academic and career aspirations is immense. So take the time outlined here to put your best case forward!


What are some tips for writing an effective bursary motivation letter?

Some key points include: highlight your most relevant achievements, skills and interests; focus on how the bursary will enable your career contribute to national development; emphasize financial need constraints overcome; relate any challenges/hardships youʼve faced demonstrating perseverance. Show passion and purpose!

If I donʼt meet the minimum eligibility criteria for a bursary Iʼm interested in this year, what should I do?

Use the criteria to set self-improvement goals for the following year. E.g. if your grades are shy of thresholds, determine subject areas to strengthen through extra classes. Set reminders to apply again once you qualify. Persistently work towards aligning your profile with requirements.

Is it advisable to apply for multiple bursaries simultaneously?

It is highly recommended to apply to several bursaries matching your eligibility if feasible. This increases the probability that one or more funders come through with an award offer. Just ensure complete documentation consistency across applications and track carefully to avoid double-dipping on funding commitments.


Leave a Reply