A bursary is a financial award by a school whereby it agrees to waive a part or all of the termly fees for a prospective student.

The UK’s public schools are all aware that not every scholarship candidate comes from a family who can afford their school fees in full.

Most will therefore have a way to augment or reduce the level of fees the child’s family will be required to cover.

To do this they would award a bursary, the amount of which would be determined on a case-by-case basis following an assessment of their personal financial situation.

Since approximately one-third of students attending private independent schools receive some element of bursarial support we council client parents to not feel uncomfortable about making an application, if one might be necessary.

The amount awarded is calculated based upon the financial circumstances of that child’s parents (or guardians) and so the amount of bursary that may be offered is always assessed on a means-tested basis.

Which schools might offer bursaries?

Funding for supporting school fees for parents can be available from Prep-Schools and Senior Schools.

In addition both day and boarding schools may offer bursaries, however, the amount awarded may differ due to their own selection criteria.

Every year the bursar has to allocate funds across new applicants and children already receiving bursaries at the school.

Annual review

Whilst a school would seek to continue to help existing students, parents would usually be required to provide fresh financial information every year.

This could mean that if one’s financial situation changes during the time your child is at their school, the amount of bursary awarded might be adjusted too.

Because of this parents should not assume that any award, if one is made, will be sufficient to fully make up any shortfall in their funding arrangements if that shortfall changes.

Consider a scholarship application

In awarding a bursary most schools will review a prospective students skills and abilities in all areas, including how they may be able to best support the school during their years of attendance.

A Scholarship usually would entitle the child’s parents to a 5-15% reduction in the yearly fees, however, this could then be augmented by a bursary, subject to the family’s financial circumstances.

It can be useful, therefore, to identify whether your child might also be a Scholarship candidate too, since this could help to sway the argument for funding in your child’s direction.

Both bursaries and scholarships are explored further in our blog.