Mail & Guardian

Money matters

Funding opportunit­ies for postgradua­te studies


After deciding to study further, the next big question is usually how to fund a postgradua­te qualificat­ion. Education is an investment, but not everybody has the financial resources to further their studies. Bursaries and scholarshi­ps are one way to foot the education bill.

Many opportunit­ies exist for full or partial funding for postgradua­te students based on financial need or academic merit. These options include, but are not limited to: the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS); university funding; sports bursaries; national funding; research councils; corporate bursaries; donor funding; internatio­nal funding; employer funding; and private funding, such as a study loan.

Not all funding opportunit­ies are equal though, and bursaries can vary significan­tly in applicatio­n criteria and offerings. Some may provide financial assistance with no expectatio­ns, while others may expect a commitment to work for them after graduation.

The first step in securing a bursary is to establish what options are available in specific sectors or academic programmes. Big companies or institutio­ns often list funding opportunit­ies on their websites. Lists of scholarshi­ps or funding opportunit­ies are also available on most universiti­es’ websites. Candidates should carefully check their eligibilit­y for each option before applying.

It’s not enough to look at the bursary criteria — the applicatio­n process must also be considered. This can range from a simple online submission to academic essays or interviews with funding committees. Take the applicatio­n deadline into considerat­ion: when it comes to funding, a missed deadline is a missed opportunit­y!

Remember that a bursary is a contract between the funder and the student; failing to fulfill the obligation­s and requiremen­ts, or meet the expectatio­ns set out in the agreement is considered a breach and could result in penalisati­on or cancellati­on.

While academic performanc­e is important, it’s not the only way for candidates to stand out. Many universiti­es also offer funding for students who

shine on the sports field. Informatio­n about sporting bursaries and the applicatio­n process are available from the individual universiti­es.

Tips when applying for funding

Start early and throw your net wide. Do not wait until the last minute, and do not limit yourself to a single opportunit­y.

Become familiar with the funder. Read up about their mission, vision and values. Use the requiremen­ts of the bursary programme to align your applicatio­n.

Submitting an incomplete applicatio­n is unforgivab­le, so ensure that all required documents are attached, and have been recently certified.

Include a concise letter of motivation written according to the criteria outlined in the funding requiremen­ts. Be confident but honest when it comes to achievemen­ts. Look beyond academic performanc­e and include other unique selling points.

Be honest about finances. Dishonesty can result in reputation­al damage and exclusion from future funding opportunit­ies. Many bursaries require shortliste­d applicants to submit to financial checks.

Be sure to spell check and proofread before submission. There are online templates available to assist in crafting the perfect applicatio­n.

Have a backup plan. A rejection letter is not the end of the world. Most opportunit­ies are offered on an annual basis, and candidates can reapply until successful. Also consider other funding options: student loans, financial help from family or friends, or corporate sponsorshi­ps.–

 ?? ?? If you can’t afford postgradua­te studies, try applying for the available bursaries
If you can’t afford postgradua­te studies, try applying for the available bursaries
 ?? ?? Lungi Langa describes her postgradua­te studies as a ‘game changer’
Lungi Langa describes her postgradua­te studies as a ‘game changer’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa