How to apply for a bursary

There is actually one way to apply for a bursary, unless it is advertised. Because when it is advertised the advert usually explains the application process and the requirements in order for one to be considered.

That one way to be used when applying for a bursary is, simple: write a letter! Yes, writing a letter to the bursary manager or whoever holds an equivalent position to a bursary manager- this may be the human resources manager, the skills development officer or the training officer, depending on the particular organisation’s structure. In this letter you may refer to your current educational achievements and your ultimate educational goals and, of course, your desired career.

So the big question is: How to Write a Bursary Application Letter?

First I would like to start with the dos and don’ts of writing a bursary application letter.

The DOs are:

  • Do motivate why you believe you should be considered or, for that matter, awarded a bursary from that particular institution. Your motivation should be clear and concise- and by this I mean you should not write a whole page of motivation. Two sentences to one paragraph would do.
  • Do be straight to the point. Beating about the bush will only make the reader of your letter lose interest and, probably, encourage him/her to throw it in the bin.
  • Do write your full name, contact number and address. This is because some companies or organisations prefer calling you back than writing you a letter- which may be lost in the post.
  • And if possible, DO type your letter and have it printed out. Hand written letters tend to be unreadable sometimes as we don’t all have typewriter-like handwritings.


  • Don’t ever motivate your bursary application letter with your family situation. It is very okay to show your financial need, but do not go into detail. I have seen letters that would go as far as saying: “I need this bursary because my parents are divorced, my father is not taking care of us and we sometimes go to bed hungry” this definitely does not motivate but rather sought sympathy from your letter’s reader.
  • Don’t include your parents’ payslips, your certified ID’s certified copies or any document to that extend. They have not requested these documents yet and they would be of no use to the bursary personnel at this stage. They may even lose interest in your letter- and we don’t want that, do we?
  • Don’t make grammatical mistakes. These are totally unacceptable because it would prove just how careless and undetermined you are.
  • Don’t spill stuff on your letter. It should be the cleanest piece of paper you have ever come across. You do not want to appear dirty, do you?

These dos and don’ts should at least get you a response if not a positive one from the bursary institution.

This article appeared in the first Bursary Bin blog, it was written by the founder of and The Bursary Bin, Madimetja Mashishi.

4 Replies to “How to apply for a bursary”

    1. Most of the bursaries for your chosen field are closed for applications. Please apply for NSFAS financial assistance at your institution to cover your fees for the coming year. If you need any assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at:

  1. I am a learner who is doing grade 12 and like to get a bursary one day.I love economics and i excell in it very well that wyhy i would like to become aan economist one day and also love accounting to. I DO ENGLISH,MATHS,ZULU,ECONOMICS ,ACCOUNTING,BUSSINESS STUDIES AND LIFE ORIENTATION . I would love this opportunity so that i can be able to fulfill my dreams and i wont be a let down if i would get this oportunity

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