Worried how you can afford to pay for your little darlings to attend private school? Well, help might be at hand - if your child is among the lucky few to get a full bursary. It’s estimated that about 150,000 children who attend independent schools, or about one-third, receive some financial assistance to pay with their school fees, which can be £9,000 per term – or even more.
Bursaries can be partial or full, and come from either the school itself or charitable trusts and companies. Each school has different criteria concerning who gets what, which means every application will be looked at individually, no matter how many schools you apply for.
The good news is that the number of bursaries has increased as the government cut down the number of assisted places. In order to qualify for tax benefits as charities, many private schools use bursaries as a way of proving they are working for the public benefit.
What is a Bursary?
Bursaries are usually awarded after a student has been accepted to the school, usually on the basis of an entrance exam. Sometimes a potential student will also have to pass an interview with flying colours in order to gain admission as well.
In virtually all cases, bursaries are then awarded on the basis of financial need. Your family will be scrupulously means-tested to determine whether your child should get a bursary, and how much.
As schools have limited means at their disposal, the amount of a bursary will vary. Some schools award several 100 per cent bursaries, which means that the fees will, in effect, be waived. Others will give partial bursaries, which can range from as little as 10 per cent of the cost and upwards.
Scholarships Vs Bursaries
Scholarships differ from bursaries in that they are awarded purely on merit, without taking the financial status of the applicant into consideration. Pupils applying to some secondary schools can get a scholarship on the basis of art, music, drama or sport, for example.
In some cases, only a partial scholarship is awarded – such as ten per cent of the total cost of fees. Often this is done to tip the scales in favour of one school over another – parents would be more likely to send their child to a school that not only costs ten per cent less, but also valued their child enough to offer them a discount.
Applying for a Bursary
It’s important to keep in mind that every independent school will have its own criteria for who gets a bursary, and how much. Harrow school, for example, awards bursaries to students who have already received scholarships, or a “financial award for excellence”, but who cannot afford the full fees.
Scholarships are awarded for academic ability in a specific area, such as music or athletics, and can result in a fee reduction of 5 to 10 per cent of the total. Bursaries at Harrow are up to 100 per cent, according to their website. Although it is not clear how many are awarded every year, the total monetary amount spent on bursaries equals almost £1 million per year.
Some schools or charitable trusts and organisations offer bursaries for specific children only, or fee reductions for children who come from certain families. You will need to research which schools offer these provisions and see if they apply to you. Among the children who can benefit are:
Children of clergy
Children whose parents are in the armed forces
Children from single-parent families
While bursaries can be a great help to children who would otherwise be unable to afford a place at a private secondary school, not everyone meets the criterion. Academic ability is always put first and foremost. Children who do not pass the entrance exams first will not be considered for admission, let alone a bursary.
Hie I'm in Rustenburg and my son is very good in swimming and intelligent too.I need your help for a better school for grade 8 next year. I can't afford Private schools with swimming. Looking forward for your respond
Mada - 13-Feb-17 @ 3:46 PM
Hi i'm Nqobile Seema and this year i am in grade 8 and i'm a hard working girl and feel like my school does not have the right kind of education for me as i tend to excell in my school work and my schools education is very poor as it is a dependent school,i live with my mom,dad and sister and my mom barely has a job and things are really difficult for my dad as my sister is going to university next year and will need a lot of finantial backing and i dont want to add to my parents worries and the worst part is that we are renting a two room house and have to worry about rent,electricity ect PLEASE,PLEASE HELP ME
Nqobile - 12-Feb-17 @ 8:58 PM
Hi! I'm 17 from South Africa and I'm currently in grade 10. I need a bursay that will help me get into a good school as my parents are unemployed and are struggling with my older brothers University fees. I don't wanna add to their stress so please help me as I am a hard working young lady who knows what she wants in life. Preferably a bursary that also cover boarding if possible. If not possible then anything in the form of a full bursary will help me achieve my goals and change the situation in my Family. I am a very bright student but I am forced to do Mathematics Literacy as there isn't enough space in Pure Math classes. I really need to get out of this situation. Thank you for your time.
seffy - 11-Feb-17 @ 3:22 PM
I have a kid who is in grade 2, he is smart, superb, dedicated. He got 100% in mathematics and the lowest percent in grade 1 subjects is 95%. Please help me on getting him a best private school and bursary. I am currently unemployed as we know South African economy. I dont want to deprive his education by failing him. I will really appreciate your assistance. I am Bheki from Bergville (KZN).
Bheki - 11-Feb-17 @ 5:27 AM
Hi, I am now a single mother with 1 child working for construction company. My daughter is staying with my mother and my siblings which things are turning to be ugly at times. I'm never at home, always been transferred to work on sites I only see her once a month. I'm separated with my husband since 2008, Still struggling to finalize my divorce. Can I be please assisted with the fees for my daughter, she is now in Grade 6A.
Sparkle - 4-Feb-17 @ 5:33 AM
Hello my daughter has been given 10% academic scholarship for yr 7 at a private school but they did not give her any bursary even though we applied for it. We cannot afford the fee and would like to kindly ask for any assistance please. We would greatly appreciate it.Thank you
Maggy - 2-Feb-17 @ 11:32 AM
Dear Bursary I genuinely need a bursary I am Nhlonipho Ndlangamandla and I only live with my mother and my father departed in 2011 since then my learning became difficult I am in form 4 and I can be glad if I can get a reply thank you....
vayomi - 25-Jan-17 @ 6:24 PM
Hello. I'm struggling to send my child at school who will be doing grade 10 this year.Im running out of money to continue with his fees at his higher level asking for help to pay for his fees. his father died a longtime ago when he was in the lower grade.iwa trying to further my studies but I'm failing.wanted to pursue my bachelor of laws degree. I' can be very grateful to be successful in this in order for me to shape my future.
cablos - 25-Jan-17 @ 6:05 PM
hello sir or madam, I'm here for your help with my sisters school fees, she is joining secondary on 5th Feb 2017.dad is unemployed and mum
we are in Uganda, I will be glad to help me out.
flora - 19-Jan-17 @ 8:58 AM
hello basary I have seen that you offer basaries to people, I have a sister who is clever in class but I can't afford the tuition alone cause my dad is unemployed and my to she is to begin secondary on 5th feb
I'm in Uganda, I will be glad to help me
flora - 19-Jan-17 @ 8:55 AM
Hi Im a single mum who lives in eastern cape rural area my child is in Grade R.I just want to know if do you offer a bursary to a pre primary kid.
Nhola - 18-Jan-17 @ 11:49 AM
HI I AM A 17YEAR OLD GIRL WHO'S LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO PAY MY SCHOOL FEES I LIVE WITH MY GRANDMA N UNFORTUNATELY SHE CAN'T AFFORD NOW I'M A HARD WORKER WHO GETS VERY GOOD RESULTS AT SCHOOL I WANT TO FINISH SCHOOL AND BECOME A SCIENTIST
zandile - 9-Jan-17 @ 5:53 AM
Am a single.mum of three, living in Kampala area, just learnt about this bursary, and would like to have one if possible for Charity who has just finished her primary 7, I want her to be in a good school, paying for three has been a problem in primary,being chased away while they are studying. Am humbly requesting for one for Charity. God bless u.
Mum - 26-Dec-16 @ 6:47 AM
Hello,my name is Sphiwe 14yrsam living in south Africa and am looking for a Bursary's or scholarshipsto follow my dreams i want to be an actor and am looking for the best school around the world ....my mom never worked she is always home ....my father left me and my mom years ago we are struggling financially at home .....hope that you will reply thank you
given - 10-Dec-16 @ 8:41 AM
I'm a single parent and I'm very interested in taking my son to a good school and I've visited one school and interested in others that can offer my son a place. He is 3 years old and very bright. He loves to read, write and create stories.
I would really like some help on getting him enrolled in a good school. Thank you
Mo - 10-Nov-16 @ 12:14 PM
I desperately need a bursary for my sister's kid. He is presently in grade 7. He is brilliant at school and soccer. His mother was retranched in 2013, since then she can't seem to find a job. Even to afford school uniform. They survive with my mother' pension money (social grand) I'm afraid if we don't get a bursary for him he will end up leaving school.
shinny - 18-Oct-16 @ 4:15 AM
Hi. I am Rhulani Chaukea girl I am 13. I only live with my mother in a small home. I am in grade 8 this year. My father departed last year and my mother resigned from her previous job in 2012 so ever since she has tried finding part time jobs but she never qualified. We both tried applied for many bursaries including AEC and we still never qualified. I have always wished to go to a private school especially St Marys School
I would really want to get this bursary because I think I deserve it
rhulani - 8-Oct-16 @ 8:41 PM
hi my name is Lutho Ndamase. I am a beautiful girl, I'm doing grade nine. I have both parents my mother is not working but my father is working in a mine in Free State but he can't afford to pay for me school fees for my high school, I want to get a bursary in East London where I would be near home. I want to have a high standard of education and I want to fulfil my dreams, I want to be the first one at home to pass in grade 12 because no one has passed grade 12. In life I want to be a CA. I wish God can be by my side ànd get this bursary so I can change my life style in future. Thank you!
Thotho - 21-Aug-16 @ 7:58 AM
Hi my son has been at his private school since year 3, he is now in year 10.Unfortunately we lost the lucrative family business late in 2013 taking on considerable personal debts.To this end, we have been struggling to pay the school fees.We are now £15,000 in arrears and have been told that if this, together with the first terms fees after the summer break are not paid before he goes back "he is no longer welcome".It is his second GCSE year that he will be missing out on.We are suffering severe financial problems.I am signed off due to anxiety and depression and my husbands present company is in administration.For the first time in our lives we have had to claim benefits just to put food on the table. Not only that my son is showing signs of depression at the thought of having to move school in his final year.I have being trying to find grants to help or a bursary.I now only have weeks to try to sort this out.Any ideas please
PP - 1-Jul-16 @ 4:44 PM
I'm a parent to 3 children,one is 16 years old,committed to his school work,pass very well at school,another one is 8 years and the last one is 7. Years,I'm the only one working in the family.I wish to get a sponsor for my 16 years son because he is very intilligent and doesn't want him to attend another school,I want him to continue where he is.
TGEL - 31-May-16 @ 9:24 PM
I'm 34 years old I have 3 childrens the first 1 is 14 yrs old the 2 11 yrs and the last is 1 year I'm suffering to take these 2 to school nobody can help me next year bcs she is going to grade 8 my first born and his father he don't want to support as from birth I'm suffering
peggy - 17-Apr-16 @ 7:51 PM
Did you finally get a bursary
Mimi - 15-Apr-16 @ 5:44 AM
Hi I'm an opharn of 17 years life had been very difficult for me and my siblings and now they cannot afford my fees I'm scared I'll have to drop out of school or go back to rural as areas ,my intentions of going to a private school were to upgrade my education ..I would really love to get help with bursary
Otty - 10-Apr-16 @ 9:44 PM
I am despirately seeking funds for my daughter. She has lost her grand mother.. Grand father and uncle of cancer. Her dad was abusive and has mental health issues. I am struggling to bring up four children but cannot afford the school fees. I pray to God for help
Julia - 12-Mar-16 @ 4:49 PM
I cannot tell you how hard life has been. I have nursed mum dad and brother aged 35 of cancer. My husband has post traumatic disorder after seeing action in the army. He became very abusive so has not lived with us for six years. I have brought four children up on my own with no relatives. Three went to independent school and now my 11 year old has passed the exam and wants to go with her sister but I cannot get a bursary. She wants to be a dr. She is resentful that she does not have the same opportunity as her brothers and sister. Do you know of anyone who can help. The children's educational trusts are over subscribed. I pray something will happen for us. Thank you
Julia - 12-Mar-16 @ 4:46 PM
Hie my name is shamiso I really need a bursary I do well in school currently in grade 9 my parents are struggling to make ends meet I just hope that I get a bursary so that I pursue my dream of being a doctor
shamy - 27-Feb-16 @ 6:50 PM
Hello everyone.My name is Nonhlanhla Ngwenya (14) who lives inDaveyton. I've always wanted to study in a private school.I recently asked my dad to pay for me but he said that he couldn't afford it since he is unemployed. Day the school that I'm studying in it has shortage of desks,chairs and textbooks and we share them and it is not Nice. I need this bursary ASAP for Grade 9 which I will be doing next year. Please help me.Thank you
D-nhla Mntimandze - 27-Feb-16 @ 11:56 AM
Hi my name is Buhle Radebe(13) I am from South Africa Gauteng .I am looking for a bursary to a private school,I tried asking my mom but she doesn't have enough money and she is a single parent . I would like to go to a private school because some public schools in SA don't have much teachers that care on how we performe,sometimes we don't have enough text books and not even enough chairs so we have to share with others.
mabuhleza - 16-Feb-16 @ 6:14 PM
I am 11 years, old passed my entry exam for a privet school in London. My mother has not enough money to pay the school's fee. I would like to know how can I get help to be abele to attend that school. Thank you.
Alex - 10-Feb-16 @ 11:15 AM
My father has passed in12 years ago, it was deficult for me becauseI didn't know who is my father .My mother work in the rescue and she does not have enough money , my brother does not work but he is 23 years. We depend to our mother ,We are struggling I want a help am small I am doing grade six am 12 years old.