Grant Vs. Bursary: What Is The Difference?

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Grants and bursaries serve distinct purposes when we talk of financial assistance. Students who need financial aid in order to pay for their college have to understand what these two mean.

Grants are typically awarded to fund specific projects, initiatives, or research endeavors, with eligibility criteria often centered around the project’s alignment with the grant provider’s mission and goals.

In contrast, bursaries are designed to provide financial support to individuals, especially students, to help them overcome financial barriers and cover the costs associated with education or training.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between a grant and bursary and also, list the eligibility criteria for each of them; carefully read through.

What Is A Grant?

A grant is a financial award or contribution provided by a government, organization, foundation, institution, or individual to support a specific project, program, research, or initiative.

Grants are typically non-repayable funds, which means you do not need to pay them back, unlike loans. They give this often to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, or researchers to help them achieve specific goals or objectives that align with the goals and priorities of the grant provider.

Grants are an opportunity for non-profits, for-profit, and government agencies to obtain the funding they need to reach their goals and measurably impact the target sector they serve.

According to Wikipedia, grants are “non-repayable funds or products disbursed or given by one party (grant makers), often a government department, corporation, foundation or trust, to a recipient, often (but not always) a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business or an individual”. 

Grants are awarded for a specific purpose or project, such as scientific research, community development, education, arts and culture, healthcare, or social services.

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How Does A Grant Work?

Grants work through a structured process that involves several key steps, from the initial idea or need for funding to the eventual implementation of the project or program. Here’s a general overview of how a grant typically works:

1. Identify the Need:

The process usually begins with an individual, organization, or research institution identifying a specific need or project that requires funding. This could be anything from scientific research and community development initiatives to educational programs or artistic projects.

2. Research Grant Opportunities:

Once you identify the need, the next step is to research potential grant opportunities. This involves finding grant providers (government agencies, foundations, corporations, etc.) that align with the project’s goals and priorities.

3. Prepare a Grant Proposal:

To apply for a grant, the applicant must prepare a comprehensive grant proposal. This document outlines the project’s objectives, scope, budget, timeline, and expected outcomes. The proposal should also demonstrate how the project aligns with the grant provider’s mission and priorities.

4. Submit the Grant Application:

The grant application is typically submitted to the grant provider according to their specified application process and deadline. This may involve filling out an online application form, submitting documents, and providing any required supporting materials.

5. Review and Evaluation:

Once the grant application is submitted, it undergoes a review and evaluation process by the grant provider. Reviewers assess the proposal’s merit, feasibility, alignment with the grant’s objectives, and the applicant’s qualifications.

6. Award Decision:

After the evaluation process, the grant provider decides whether to award the grant. Successful applicants receive a notification of the award, including details about the funding amount and any specific terms and conditions.

7. Acceptance and Agreement:

Grant recipients typically need to formally accept the grant offer and sign an agreement or contract that outlines the terms and conditions of the grant. This agreement may include reporting requirements, financial guidelines, and other stipulations.

See also: What is the Difference Between an Offer Letter and an Acceptance Letter

What Is A Bursary?

A bursary is a type of financial award or grant that is typically provided to individuals, often students, to assist them in covering the costs of education or training. Bursaries are different from loans in that they do not need to be repaid, making them a form of non-repayable financial assistance. They are typically awarded based on financial need, academic merit, or specific criteria set by the bursary provider.

Bursaries are primarily designed to help individuals who may not have the financial means to pursue their education or training. They can cover various educational expenses, such as tuition fees, textbooks, accommodation, and living expenses.

To apply for a bursary, individuals typically need to submit an application that includes information about their financial situation, academic achievements, and any other qualifications or documents required by the bursary provider.

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How Does A Bursary Work?

A bursary award works as a form of financial assistance or grant provided to individuals, typically students, to help them cover the costs of their education or training.

To qualify for a bursary award, you must show your high school transcript or result. You should also show some paper or documents which prove that you need financial requirements. In some cases, you may show the income documents of your parents.

Here’s how a bursary typically works:

1. Identification of Financial Need

The first step in obtaining a bursary is recognizing the need for financial assistance to pursue education. This need is often based on the applicant’s financial situation, which may include factors such as low income, family circumstances, or other financial constraints.

2. Research and Application

Individuals interested in applying for a bursary should research potential bursary opportunities. Bursaries may be offered by various sources, including educational institutions, government agencies, private foundations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Applicants need to identify bursaries that match their eligibility criteria, such as field of study, academic achievement, or other specific requirements.

3. Application Submission

To apply for a bursary, applicants typically need to submit an application form along with required documents, which may include proof of income, academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and a personal statement explaining their financial need and educational goals.

4. Evaluation and Selection

Bursary providers review applications and evaluate them based on the specified criteria. This may include factors like financial need, academic performance, the relevance of the applicant’s chosen field of study, and any additional requirements set by the bursary provider. Some bursaries are highly competitive, while others are more accessible.

5. Award Notification

After reviewing applications, the bursary provider selects recipients and notifies them of their award. The notification typically includes details about the amount of the bursary, any conditions or requirements, and instructions for disbursing the funds.

5. Disbursement of Funds

Bursary funds are usually disbursed directly to the student or the educational institution they are attending. The funds can be used to cover various educational expenses, including tuition fees, textbooks, supplies, accommodation, and living expenses.

What Is The Difference Between A Grant And Bursary?

Grants and bursaries are both forms of financial assistance, but they differ in several key ways, primarily in their purpose, eligibility criteria, and how the funds are used.

1. Purpose

In terms of purpose, Grants are typically awarded to support specific projects, programs, initiatives, or research. They can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as scientific research, community development, arts and culture, healthcare, and more.

On the other hand, Bursaries are primarily intended to assist individuals, often students, in covering the costs of their education or training. Their primary purpose is to reduce the financial barriers to education by providing financial support to those who need it.

2. Eligibility

Eligibility for grants can vary widely based on the specific grant opportunity and its objectives. Grant eligibility may depend on factors such as the type of organization or individual, the project’s focus, geographic location, and alignment with the grant provider’s mission.

Bursaries are typically awarded based on financial need, academic merit, or specific criteria set by the bursary provider. Financial need is a common requirement for bursaries, and applicants often need to demonstrate that they lack the financial means to pursue education without assistance.

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3. Usage

Grant funds can be used for a wide variety of purposes related to the project or initiative for which they are awarded. This may include research expenses, equipment purchases, program development, and other project-specific costs. Bursary funds are specifically designated to cover educational expenses. They can be used to pay for tuition fees, textbooks, supplies, accommodation, and living expenses related to education or training.

4. Recipients

Grants can be awarded to a wide range of recipients, including individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, researchers, and more. Bursaries are primarily awarded to individuals, especially students, to support their education or training endeavors.

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What Are The Requirements Needed To Apply For Grants?

The requirements needed to apply for academic grants can vary widely based on the specific grant opportunity and the grant provider. Different grants have different objectives, eligibility criteria, and application processes.

However, there are some common requirements and steps that applicants often need to follow when applying for grants:

1. Identify Suitable Grants

Research and identify grant opportunities that align with your project, program, or research objectives. Look for grants that match your organization’s or individual qualifications and goals.

2. Eligibility Criteria:

  • Determine if you meet the eligibility criteria specified by the grant provider. Common eligibility factors may include:
    • Type of applicant (individual, nonprofit organization, business, etc.).
    • Geographic location (local, regional, national, or international).
    • Project focus (education, healthcare, research, community development, etc.).
    • Budget size (some grants are designed for small projects, while others are for larger initiatives).
    • Alignment with the grant provider’s mission and priorities.

3. Prepare a Detailed Proposal:

  • Create a comprehensive grant proposal that outlines your project or program. The proposal should include:
    • Project objectives and goals.
    • Description of the problem or need the project addresses.
    • Detailed project plan, including activities, timeline, and expected outcomes.
    • Budget breakdown, specifying how the grant funds will be used.
    • Information about your organization (if applicable), including its mission and track record.
    • Any additional documents or information requested by the grant application guidelines.

4. Budget and Financial Information:

  • Provide a detailed budget that clearly outlines how the grant funds will be allocated.
  • Include financial information about your organization or yourself, such as income statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial documents.

5. Letters of Support or Recommendation:

  • Some grants may require letters of support or recommendation from individuals or organizations that endorse your project or research. These letters can provide credibility to your proposal.

6. Submission:

  • Submit your grant application according to the specified guidelines and deadline. You may submit your grant applications online through an application portal or via email or regular mail, depending on the grant provider’s requirements.

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What Are The Requirements Needed To Apply For Bursary?

The requirements needed to apply for a bursary differ based on the specific bursary program and the organization or institution offering it. Here are some common requirements and steps often associated with applying for bursaries:

1. Eligibility Criteria:

  • Determine if you meet the eligibility criteria specified by the bursary provider. Common eligibility factors may include:
    • Financial need: Bursaries are often awarded based on financial need, so you may need to demonstrate that you or your family have limited financial resources to support your education.
    • Academic merit: Some bursaries require a certain level of academic achievement or specific academic qualifications.
    • Field of study: Certain bursaries are targeted toward students pursuing specific fields of study or careers.
    • Citizenship or residency status: Some bursaries may be available only to citizens or residents of a particular country or region.

2. Application Form:

  • Complete the bursary application form provided by the bursary provider. This form typically requires you to provide personal information, details about your educational background, financial information, and other relevant data.

3. Financial Documentation:

  • You may need to submit financial documentation to prove your financial need. This could include:
    • Income statements or tax returns for yourself or your family.
    • Bank statements or other financial records.
    • Proof of expenses related to your education, such as tuition fees, textbooks, and living expenses.

4. Academic Records:

  • If academic achievement is a criterion, provide transcripts or records of your academic performance, including your grade point average (GPA).

5. Letters of Recommendation:

  • Some bursaries may require letters of recommendation from teachers, professors, employers, or other individuals who can vouch for your qualifications and character.

6. Personal Statement or Essay:

  • Write a personal statement or essay explaining your educational goals, the reasons for pursuing your chosen field of study or training, and how the bursary will help you achieve your aspirations.

7. Application Deadline:

  • Submit your bursary application by the specified deadline. Late applications are often not considered.

8. Interview or Additional Steps:

  • In some cases, you may have to participate in an interview or complete additional steps as part of the application process.

FAQs On Grants Vs Bursary

Can international students apply for grants and bursaries?

Yes, some grants and bursaries are open to international students, but eligibility can vary based on the specific program or institution. International students should research opportunities in their desired country and institution.

Do I have to repay a bursary?

Bursaries are typically considered non-repayable, meaning you do not have to pay them back. However, some bursaries may have specific conditions that require you to meet certain criteria to maintain eligibility.

When should I apply for grants and bursaries?

Application deadlines vary, so it’s essential to research and plan ahead. Some programs have specific application periods, while others may accept applications year-round. Be sure to check the deadlines for the grants and bursaries you’re interested in.

Can I apply for multiple grants and bursaries simultaneously?

Yes, you can apply for multiple grants and bursaries, but make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for each one and manage your applications carefully to meet all deadlines.


Both grants and bursaries offer invaluable financial support, but their key differences lie in their intended beneficiaries and purposes.

Grants empower organizations and individuals to innovate, research, and contribute to broader societal goals, while bursaries enable individuals to access education and training opportunities that might otherwise be financially out of reach.

Ultimately, understanding these distinctions can help individuals and organizations make informed decisions when seeking financial assistance to achieve their respective objectives.



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