Are you considering your options for tertiary studies but you’re unsure how you’ll be able to afford it? Are you confused by all the various options and seeking some clarity?
This blog post will give you the low-down on what funding options are available so you can take the next important step in your educational journey.
Funding options for tertiary studies
Going to university is big step in your life and career. It’s a wonderful opportunity to further your knowledge, discover your passion and equip yourself with the right skills for your dream job. But, like most things in life, it requires a sacrifice of time, energy and financial resources. A tertiary education is very valuable to your future but, unfortunately, it doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to get funding for your degree or diploma and you will need to figure out which option best suits your particular situation. At Career Wise, we offer a number of scholarships and bursaries that cater to different disciplines. Have a look at our Bursaries and Scholarships to find out more about what we offer and (click here) check out some of our earlier blog posts for help with applications and info on specific schemes.
The difference between a bursary and scholarship isn’t always clear and sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Generally, a bursary is offered by a private sector company or government entity and has some kind of contractual work obligation attached to the funding. This usually means that you will have to work for the company for the same number of years that they provided funding, and there may also be practical training requirements during your studies. If you’re considering applying for a bursary, make sure you know what the contractual obligations are. Do some research on the company and find out what kind of work you will be expected to do and also where the company has operations. For government bursaries, there isn’t generally a work contact attached but you will be expected to sign an obligation to work in South Africa after your studies, sometimes in a particular sector. Most bursaries will cover tuition and living expenses but make sure you find out what’s covered for each scheme before you apply. For both corporate and government bursaries, the application process is competitive and you will need to provide comprehensive information to prove your academic ability and financial means. Check out our corporate bursaries page (click here) to learn more and see our client companies and (click here) to see an example of a government bursary that we administer.
Whereas bursaries typically have a contractual obligation attached, scholarships don’t. They are usually offered by charitable foundations and trusts and are awarded based on academic merit and financial need. And, because they are not tied to a specific company or skill requirement, scholarships generally offer more flexibility in terms of which disciplines you can choose to study. Each one is different, however, and it’s important to do some proper research before submitting an application. Find out more about the scholarships we offer (click here) and pay particular attention to what each one covers as some are top-up awards that only cover financial shortfalls. As with bursaries, the application process is competitive so make sure you take the time to submit a strong application.
All of the major banks (i.e. ABSA, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank) in South Africa, as well as some independent credit providers, offer student loans. In order to qualify for a student loan, you will need proof of registration and, importantly, you’ll need a parent, guardian or relative to sign surety for the loan. This means that person takes financial responsibility for the loan and they will need to have a certain income level to qualify. This often makes loan funding difficult to access. If you are able to find a sponsor for your loan, make sure you both fully understand the implications and terms of the loan. Typically, you won’t need to repay the loan amount until you have graduated but you will need to make ongoing interest payments. Do as much research as you can on the various loan providers because the interest rates and surety requirements are different for each provider.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides loan funding to South African students who are enrolled at a public institution. NSFAS loans will help you cover all of your expenses with the loan amount awarded on an individual basis according to your needs. Unlike a loan from a private provider, you do not need anyone to sign surety for a NSFAS loan but you will be expected to pay the loan back once you have graduated and start earning an income. The interest rate is lower than those of commercial lenders and NSFAS also allows you to convert some of the loan funding into bursary funding if you work hard and pass your subjects with a certain grade. To qualify, you will need to be academically strong and also meet the financial means criteria. Find out more (click here).
Funding options for your tertiary studies are plentiful but not always clear. We hope this blog post has helped to clarify the various options and has pointed you in the right direction to do some proper, in-depth research. Good luck, you’re taking the first step towards success!