How To Easily Apply And Get A Bursary in South Africa

By ED Curtson •  Updated: 10/01/22 •  5 min read

Having tertiary education can open doors to new, exciting, and in many instances, better-paying opportunities, which is why further education is so sought after in South Africa. However, because the cost of further education, whether at a college or university, is more than most families can afford, the only way to get a better and affordable education beyond high school is to apply for a bursary in South Africa. To help you get started, we highlight the easy way to apply for a bursary in South Africa.


What is a Bursary?

A bursary is a sponsorship that students receive to further their education. These sponsorships are awarded to qualifying students based on merit and do not need to be paid back. 

How To Apply for A Bursary?

Private companies, schools, and government institutions offer bursaries, so to determine how to apply for the bursary you’re interested in, you should read the instructions carefully. 

However, we list some of the steps you should expect in most applications.

Find Online or Offline Application Form

The first step to applying for a bursary in South Africa is to access the application form. Most bursary providers will have online application forms that will require you to fill in all the necessary fields online and upload your documents.

Fill In Your Parents’ and Guardians’ Details

You will also need your parent’s and guardian’s details, including an ID number, phone number, and employer details.

Add a Copy of your ID & Academic Record

You will also need to attach a copy of your ID. If it is an ID card, the copy should include both the front and back. 

Some bursaries may specify that the copy of your ID is certified, which is something you can do at a police station, provided you have the copy ready.

You will also need to add your matric or preliminary matric results.

Add Proof of Registration at a Qualifying Tertiary Institution

Another document you’ll need to upload is registration or acceptance to a qualifying tertiary education.

Include A Letter of Recommendation and a Motivational Letter

Since many learners will be applying for the same bursary, one way to ensure your application stands out is to write a compelling motivational letter. Take the time to write a letter that explains not only why you want the bursary but how the bursary will affect your life and how dedicated you are to your studies.

Furthermore, some bursary providers may request that you add a letter of recommendation with the contact details of the recommender attached. Try to include recommendations from individuals outside of your household who hold a position of authority but have enough experience with you. This could be a religious leader, a coach, a mentor, a principal, a teacher, a ward councillor, or an employer.

Include Proof of Household Income

Most bursaries are only available to students who can prove that they need financial assistance to attend 

Bursaries in South Africa

Bursaries in South Africa cover many industries and fields. This means that regardless of what you plan to study or pursue a career in, there will likely be a bursary opportunity awaiting you. That’s because the government rewards businesses for awarding bursaries to deserving students who, otherwise, wouldn’t have the means to attend university or college.

Where can I get a bursary in South Africa?

You should start your search online if you are searching for a bursary in South Africa. By searching through the database of a relevant SETA. 

A SETA is an education and training authority that has access to many tertiary learning opportunities on its database. This list of SETAs will be the first step to finding a relevant bursary. You can also conduct your own search – however, this will be more time-consuming and could mean you miss out on applying to all major bursary opportunities.

What do you need to qualify for a bursary?

Each bursary you apply to will have unique qualifying criteria. These are the most basic criteria you need to meet to qualify for most bursaries in South Africa. 

Be a South African Citizen

While some bursaries are available to permanent residents, most bursaries available in South Africa are only available to South African citizens.

Be in Matric or Have Completed Matric

You can apply for bursaries at the beginning of matric with your grade 11 results. However, to qualify for the bursary, you must complete matric.

Meet Other Qualifying Criteria for the Bursary 

Some bursaries may specify the subject you need to study, your matric grades, and your household income.

The secret to a successful bursary application is to achieve exceptional grades in all the subjects you study in matric and apply to as many bursary opportunities as possible. By doing this, you increase your chances of getting a bursary.