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Bursaries, loans and scholarships

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There are different kinds of funding available to finance your studies, and it helps to understand the differences between them. Let’s start by looking at the difference between bursaries, loans, and scholarships.


Bursaries vary in amounts and professions and are given to students in order to further their studies. In return for funding your studies, the company may require you to repay them by signing a work contract with them. Another type of bursary is a donor bursary (a bursary awarded to a deserving candidate in a specific field of study or in recognition for his/her work in a specific field of study).

Student loans

A student loan is a type of loan designed to help students pay for tertiary education. It usually includes tuition fees, books and supplies, and living expenses.

Student loans are loans are not the same as bursaries. They need to be paid back – and the amount includes interest. Usually, only the interest portion needs to be paid during the study period. The main amount is payable after you have qualified.

To qualify for a student loan, you need to have an employed sponsor such as a parent, guardian or relative to stand surety. This means that they will be responsible for repaying the monthly interest on the loan while you are studying. The main portion of the loan is in your (the student’s) name and needs to be repaid by you after you are qualified and working.

It’s important to remember that a study loan is a legal agreement that must be repaid even if you:

  • don’t finish the course
  • don’t find employment after qualifying

Loans are awarded to applicants based on their need and family income.

Loans are also always linked to interest rates. If you receive a loan you would be required to repay the loan in full as well as the accumulated interest.


A scholarship is a financial award usually given to students based on their outstanding academic achievements. Recipients are not always expected to repay or work back the money they receive.


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