DEFINITION of Bursary Award

A type of financial award provided to certain students to assist with the costs associated with attending a college or university. A bursary award, or simply bursary, is a monetary award provided to students based on financial need and/or academic performance. A bursary award is provided to the student by the educational institution.


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.