Everything You Need to Know About Study Trust Bursaries in South Africa


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Pursuing higher education is a major investment that significantly impacts your future career and life prospects. However, the costs associated with studying at a university or college can be daunting for many prospective students and their families. Tuition fees, textbooks, accommodation, food, transport, and other expenses add up quickly.

Fortunately, financial assistance is available in the form of bursaries, scholarships, and loans. One such option is a study trust bursary. This type of bursary helps students fund their studies and is awarded based on financial need. It does not need to be repaid, unlike a study loan.

If you are considering tertiary studies, understanding study trust bursaries can help you access funding to earn your qualification. This detailed blog post explores what a study trust bursary is, how to obtain one, eligibility criteria, and the differences between bursaries, scholarships, and loans. Read on to learn more about this educational funding option.

What is a Study Trust Bursary?

A study trust bursary is a type of financial aid given to students who require assistance to cover the costs of higher education. Bursaries provide funding that does not need to be repaid. This makes them distinct from study loans, which must be repaid with interest.

Study trust bursaries are monies granted to deserving and qualifying students by non-profit organizations, corporations, universities, government departments, and various trusts and foundations. The bursary funds help students pay for their direct and indirect study expenses while completing their qualifications.

These expenses include tuition fees, registration fees, prescribed textbooks, stationery and supplies, computer and internet costs, transportation, accommodation near campus, food and meals, and more. Without adequate financial support, many academically deserving students would struggle to embark on or complete their studies.

Bursaries provide vital funding that helps students focus on their academics and graduate without being overwhelmed by education costs. They are a conduit allowing financially constrained students to access quality higher education opportunities.

The funding does not need to be repaid by the student, unlike repayable study loans from financial institutions. However, students must comply with the criteria and conditions attached to the bursary they receive.

How are Study Trust Bursaries Awarded?

Study trust bursaries are awarded based on a combination of financial need and academic merit.

The financial need criteria assess the student’s family and household income situation. Those from low-income families who cannot afford tertiary expenses receive preference. Academic merit criteria consider the student’s academic abilities and prior performance, such as high school grades.

By assessing both financial need and academic capability, bursary trusts aim to support deserving, high-potential students who require funding assistance to excel at tertiary studies. The goal is to empower bright young minds by removing financial barriers.

Different bursary schemes have varying eligibility criteria, application processes, required documents, and selection procedures. Students must review these carefully and ensure they qualify before applying.

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Certain bursaries are awarded based on specific demographics, fields of study, institutions, or regions. Others are open to a broader range of applicants based on financial neediness alone.

Students should identify bursaries that best fit their unique circumstances and study plans. Applying for multiple appropriate bursaries can increase your chances of success.

Major Sources of Study Trust Bursaries

There are diverse organizations that offer impactful study trust bursaries for financially constrained students:

  • Government Bursaries – These include national and provincial government departments that award bursaries aligned to specific fields and national development priorities. Subject areas like healthcare, engineering, accounting, education, and sciences are common.
  • University Bursaries – Many universities manage bursary programs for current and prospective students with financial need. These help ensure academic talent is supported at the institution.
  • Corporate Bursaries – Major companies and businesses offer bursaries related to their industries and professions, such as IT, accounting, engineering, mining, banking, and more.
  • Non-Profit Bursaries – These are provided by non-profit organizations, trusts, foundations, and charities involved in education. Many support disadvantaged students and specific causes.
  • Industry Bursaries – Industry associations, professional bodies and sector training authorities frequently provide bursaries linked to their sectors. These help grow skills in their respective industries.

Identifying and applying for a study trust bursary that suits your field of study and financial situation is key to securing this invaluable education funding.

Examples of Study Trust Bursary Providers

To give you a better sense of the organizations providing study bursaries, here are some leading examples:

  • The Funza Lushaka Bursary Program – Funded by the Department of Basic Education, supports teaching studies, especially in priority fields like mathematics, science, and technology.
  • The Fasset Bursary Scheme – Funded by the Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority, this supports accounting and finance qualifications.
  • Investec CSI Bursaries – Provided by the Investec Corporate Social Investment Program, these support students studying commerce, engineering, medicine, etc.
  • The Discovery Foundation – Supports healthcare and actuarial science studies through merit-based and disadvantaged bursaries.
  • The BHP Billiton Engineering Bursary – Funded by natural resources company BHP, this bursary develops engineering skills.
  • Woodlands Dairy Bursary – Supports students in agriculture and related studies and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Allan Gray Orbis Fellowship – Prestigious fellowship for entrepreneurially-minded youth to complete their education and grow innovative business ideas.

As you can see, study bursaries are available from diverse sources for a wide range of fields of study and circumstances.

Application Process

Applying for appropriate bursaries is essential to secure this type of financial assistance for your studies. Here is an overview of the typical bursary application process:

  • Bursary Research – Identify and research potential bursaries you appear eligible for. Review their criteria, eligible fields of study, values, and application process.
  • Eligibility Check – Confirm you meet the core bursary eligibility criteria, such as being a South African citizen, studying full-time, and requiring financial assistance.
  • Application Documents – Prepare all documents required for the bursary applications, including ID, proof of income, academic records, motivation letter, etc.
  • Complete Applications – Meticulously complete each bursary application form, ensuring all instructions and guidelines are followed.
  • Supplementary Info – Submit any additional, supporting items outlined in the application materials, such as reference letters.
  • Submit Applications – Send complete applications before the specified deadlines and confirm their receipt. Follow-up if needed.
  • Assessments – If shortlisted, partake in any interviews, tests, or other assessments required by the bursary providers.
  • Decisions – Bursary decisions are communicated after assessments. Accept offers in writing by the deadline and sign bursary contracts.
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With preparation and persistence, students can secure funding through trustworthy bursary schemes.

How Do You Qualify for a Bursary in South Africa?

To qualify for a general bursary in South Africa, there are some common eligibility criteria you must meet:

  • Citizenship – You must be a South African citizen or permanent resident with a valid ID number. Some bursaries require you to have been residing in South Africa for a certain minimum period.
  • Academic Performance – Meeting academic performance criteria is important. Most bursaries look at your Grade 12 results and/or current post-school academic records. Strong grades make you more competitive.
  • Financial Need – You need to demonstrate your household has insufficient income to self-fund your studies. Proof of family income and financial status is typically required.
  • Studying at a Recognized Institution – You must have the offer to study full-time at an officially recognized South African university, TVET college, or other educational institution.
  • Studying an Eligible Field – Some bursaries require you to be studying toward an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in a specific field or even a precise degree program.
  • Demographic Factors – A few bursaries are targeted at specific demographics such as women or certain race groups defined in B-BBEE criteria.
  • Other Criteria – Additional criteria beyond the above could apply depending on the individual bursary, such as being from a rural area or having a disability.

Ultimately, bursary providers assess both financial need and academic ability when awarding funding to deserving, capable students.

Key Differences Between Bursaries, Scholarships and Loans

There are distinct differences between the three major types of funding for higher education – bursaries, scholarships and loans:


  • Awarded based on financial need and does not require repayment.
  • Typically target students whose families face genuine financial constraints.
  • Applications require proof of household income and asset levels.
  • Funds help recipients cover study costs so they can focus on academics.


  • Awarded based on excellence in academics, sports, arts, or other talents.
  • Do not require repayment and recipients can use funds freely.
  • Competitive application processes seeking top-performing students.
  • Recognize individual talents and achievements through financial support.
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Study Loans

  • Provide funds for education costs but must be repaid with interest.
  • Require parents or sponsors to co-sign repayment responsibility.
  • Uses academic progress and course of study as loan approval criteria.
  • Enable access to funds for immediate education needs which are later repaid.

In summary, bursaries and scholarships both provide funding you don’t repay, while loans must be repaid. Bursaries focus on financial need, scholarships on excellence, and loans provide funds through a repayable credit agreement.

Must a Study Bursary Be Repaid?

A legitimate study trust bursary does not require repayment by the recipient. This is in contrast to a study loan, which must be repaid over an agreed period once you begin working.

However, there are scenarios in which you may have to repay a bursary, either fully or partially:

  • You do not complete the qualification funded by the bursary within the agreed timeframes.
  • You drop out of the institution or change your course of study without permission from the bursary provider.
  • You do not meet certain criteria tied to the bursary, such as obtaining satisfactory academic results.
  • You accepted the bursary through fraudulent means or misrepresented yourself in the application process.

Essentially, if you fail to uphold the agreement stipulated in the bursary contract, the provider may require that you repay the bursary funds received. Any bursary funds already used for authorized study expenses would generally not require repayment.

You need to thoroughly understand the specific conditions and service requirements attached to any bursary you accept. These are formalized through a contract you sign with the bursary provider.

Completing your qualification and complying fully with the bursary provider’s requirements means you can enjoy the bursary funding you receive with no obligations for repayment.


Study trust bursaries provide invaluable financial assistance that helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds access higher education opportunities. The funding supports recipients to complete recognized qualifications and prepares them to enter professional industries and contribute to society.

Bursaries make quality education accessible for financially constrained students with academic potential. Unlike loans, the funding does not accumulate interest or need repayment when bursary conditions are met.

By applying for reputable bursaries aligned with your field of study, you can cover the costs of earning your diploma or degree. Just be sure to comply fully with the associated criteria and contractual obligations tied to any bursary you accept.

With this blog post as a guide, you now understand the purpose of study bursaries, major providers, how to qualify and apply, and their differences from scholarships and loans. These insights will assist you in securing vital bursary funding to invest in your educational future.

Hello, my name is Joseph Samaritan and I am a blogger who writes about various topics of interest, I have a passion for learning and sharing knowledge through my blog, I welcome feedback and comments on my posts and I look forward to engaging with you, thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy reading it.


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