What Is a Bursary Award?

A bursary award is a type of financial payment provided to certain students or prospective students to assist with the costs associated with attending a college or university, primarily in the United Kingdom and Canada. A bursary award, or simply a bursary, is a sum of money given to students based on financial need and/or academic performance. A bursary award is provided to the student by the educational institution and is similar to scholarships awarded by American universities.

Key Takeaways

  • A bursary award is monetary grant given to eligible students or prospective students by an educational institution such as a university.
  • Like scholarships in the U.S., bursaries are a way for students in the U.K. and Canada that have financial hardship but excel as students have access to educational resources.
  • Bursaries must be applied for, with special consideration given to those with the greatest hardship, as well as members of underrepresented and under-served social groups.

Understanding Bursary Awards

Bursary awards are part of the Canadian and United Kingdom financial aid programs. Bursary awards are not repaid, and are used to provide certain students with money to cover gaps between the amount of financial aid a student needs to attend the school and any available government assistance that he or she is eligible for. Unlike merit scholarships, these awards are given on the basis of financial need, making them much different than scholarships that are tied to academic achievement. 

These types of awards are most often funds that have been donated generously by companies, private donors, foundations, and government funding. Many bursaries have additional criteria connected to them alongside the financial need. Eligible students in Canada and the United Kingdom can apply to various bursaries based on fit and need. There are also bursary awards specifically geared towards students with disabilities, as well, and some schools offer emergency bursaries for international undergraduates. Academic advisors in the financial aid departments of colleges and universities can assist with a student's search for appropriate bursaries. 

Applying for Bursaries

Students must complete and submit an application to be reviewed by a bursary committee. Each member of the committee will read through the application and make a recommendation based on its merits. Deadlines are important, as late applications cannot be considered. Bursaries are most often handed out to those students with the greatest financial need. Prospective students may apply for entrance bursaries while continuing students can also seek bursary awards.