Difference between Scholarships vs Bursaries

Difference between Scholarships vs Bursaries. All you need to know

Scholarships and Bursaries are financial awards offered to students interested in pursuing their education. Various guidelines and conditions are attached to their application which makes them both similar and dissimilar to each other. 

In this article, before discussing the differences between scholarships vs bursaries, let us go through the definition of a bursary and scholarship to get a clearer picture of them. 

What are Scholarships?

Scholarships are non-repayable financial assistance offered to students to encourage talent. It can be both merit and need-based and is usually offered to a specific category of students. Scholarships are also country-based and are offered to students who want to study abroad in specific countries. 

Scholarships cover educational costs (like tuition fees), and costs of living (like maintenance, accommodation, transportation, etc). 

Scholarships vs Bursaries

What are Bursaries?

Bursaries are financial aids offered by colleges, universities, foundations, or governments to students for their education. These are meant for students who belong to low-income households and are unable to meet their educational expenses.

Bursaries are need-based and not merit-based. It covers the living costs of the student in a specific year.

Additional read: Savings vs Investment

Key differences between Scholarships vs Bursaries

The key differences between scholarships vs bursaries based on various parameters are as follows-

1. Financial status

The financial status of a student is not necessarily taken into consideration while awarding the scholarships, whereas the opposite is true for a bursary as it is given to students facing financial difficulties in paying their education fees. 

2. Purpose

The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial aid to students who are gifted in terms of talent or an area of expertise so that the funds can promote their education.

The purpose of offering bursaries, on the other hand, is to offer financial support or monetary funds to students who are unable to pay their education fees. 

Thus, the purpose of scholarships is to boost skills and bursaries are to avoid financial struggles. 

3. Types

There are different types of scholarships like merit-based scholarships, talent-based scholarships, and merit-cum-need based scholarships whereas bursaries are only need-based financial supports.

4. The offering Party

The scholarships and bursaries are offered by schools, universities, governments, or third parties like a foundation. In the case of scholarships, the third party is usually interested in promoting talent, whereas, in the case of bursaries, it is to help the recipient avoid financial problems. 

5. Offered to

Scholarships are based on the academic performance of the student or achievements in specific categories like music, sports, etc., or based on need.

Bursaries are offered only based on need so that the students can pay the education fees and continue with their studies. 

6. Area of consideration

The main area of consideration while awarding scholarships is the merit and skills of the student whereas the financial status is the primary area of consideration while offering a bursary. 

7. Paying back

Scholarships are non-refundable awards offered to students with exceptional talent. If the student does not agree to the terms and conditions of the offered scholarship then he has to pay back the money at a later period. 

Some bursaries claim a specific percentage of the offered fund once the student gets a job and starts earning. If the student cannot complete the education or has to leave it midway he will have to pay back a specific percentage of the offered bursary that he has received for that specific year. 

8. Related conditions

Specific conditions are attached to both scholarships and bursaries and the students have to follow them at all costs. When the student is offered a bursary, he has to agree to work for the offering party for a specific time. 

The primary condition of a scholarship is that the student will have to maintain exemplary grades. Only sometimes does the scholarship require the student to work for the organization offering the scholarship. 

9. Benefits

The benefits offered under scholarships vs bursaries vary to a great extent. Scholarship often covers the entire or a part of tuition fees along with a discount on maintenance costs, transport expenses, and cost of books. Bursaries on the other hand offer monetary aid to cover education expenses and sometimes include one-off payments for meeting living costs. 

The education cost calculator on the Edufund App helps to get an estimate of the future education so that the student can know the scholarship or bursary amount that will be sufficient to meet his requirements.  


Knowing about the differences between scholarships vs bursaries helps students to understand which type of aid will prove beneficial for meeting their specific needs.

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