School scholarships and bursaries - are they worth it?

(19 Posts)
invicta Sun 09-Feb-14 15:41:44

I've seen lots of posts on Mumsnet and other forums about bursaries and scholarships, with posters saying that they couldn't get into xyz school unless they are awarded one.

However, apart from the 100% and 50% awards! which are obviously financially beneficially, are they actually worth it? For example, a 10% award for a £10000 annual fee would only amount £1000 per year, less than £100 per month. Does this amount actually make a difference? A £3500 termly fee would then cost £3150 - still a lot of money, plus you have to buy school uniforms etc on top of that.

I don't know what the average bursary is, or how many are offered, but just wondered how much difference they actually make.

inthename Sun 09-Feb-14 16:05:39

As you've rightly said, if you couldn't afford it without one, then the % awarded is very important, for example I've had to strike senior schools off the list for ds as their maximum bursary is 30%. However, it depends what assets you have, if you could afford the fees on paper, then any percentage is worth having as the reduction of even £500 - £1000 a term still adds up over each year and can be used for something else.

exexpat Sun 09-Feb-14 16:13:42

Scholarships are mainly about the prestige/academic honour, and are not means tested, so they are relatively token amounts (5-25%). Bursaries are means tested and can make a real difference.

I think even £1,000 a year off is worth having - that's £7k+ over the course of secondary school, and could pay for some school trips you couldn't otherwise afford, or some family holidays, and could be the deciding factor if you are choosing between two schools.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 09-Feb-14 16:39:22

I've forgotten the technical (grammatical) term - but I know there is one - for asking the wrong question. Or at least, not exactly the wrong question but not the one that will lead to the crucial piece of information that takes you forward.

As I see it a 50 or 100% bursary happens when you get the most fortuitous meeting of school and child and parent. (As opposed to a scholarship which is the perfect meeting of school and child.) So the same parent may be offered 20% at one school but (theoretically) 50% at another. (But of course the crucial issue would be what the fees actually are at each school....)

There's obviously no such thing as the average bursary across the country - but as far as I can see, peoples' options are very much limited by only considering schools in a particular area. It is always possible that the ideal bursary for any given family is only available at a school 500 miles away.....

I don't know if a 10% bursary is actually "worth it." Would 10% off actually make a difference to whether a child can go to a school or not? My personal feeling is that I would rather see a school combine three 10% bursaries into one 30% award - which may well make a significant difference to a family's decision as to whether to send a child or not.

Coconutty Sun 09-Feb-14 16:55:27

Lots of people confuse bursaries and scholarships.

Scholarships award excellent, be it academic, music or sport. As someone's already said these are usually between 5-25%

Bursaries are for children who usually have been awarded a scholarship but can't afford to go to the school without financial assistance. They are means tested and the idea is to make the school possible. I know people who have been offered full bursaries to cover all fees but they have all had scholarship offers first.

middleclassonbursary Sun 09-Feb-14 18:39:23

We're one of the lucky ones we receive a very substantial bursary and my DC did not even try for the scholarship exam at his super selective school. So there are some out there but they are difficult to find. There are a few children on 100% bursaries at the school but as bursaries are confidential I can't comment as to whether or not they are scholars.

mercibucket Sun 09-Feb-14 18:57:12

our local schools list everyone by exam result and work their way down the list giving bursaries according to salary/assets
so you need to rate high on the list or all the money is gone

middleclassonbursary Sun 09-Feb-14 19:05:40

I'm not sure how it works at my DC's school. But as the bursary offer was made before he sat the entrance exam (although he did have a conditional offer made when he was in yr 6) it's not related to how "high" on the exam result list you are.
He knows of other significantly less able pupils than he is who claim they are receiving similar size bursaries to us and even larger ones.

AmIIndecisive Sun 09-Feb-14 19:51:02

In my old school (super selective London) there was a bursary exam (post means tested) where students competed and the highest scorers were awarded up to 100pc of fees.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 09-Feb-14 20:14:14

OP Is this a purely "academic" question (with no definitive answer) or is there a RL dilemma to be resolved?

TillySwat Sun 09-Feb-14 20:46:10

Different schools will have differing policies. My DD had, throughout her time at secondary school, a 10% 'all rounder' scholarship, a 20% music scholarship and a 20% means tested bursary. So - total of 50% reduction, which really helped, obviously.

mysteryfairy Sun 09-Feb-14 20:56:22

My DS has two scholarships, one from y7 and a second one from y11. Would he still go to the school without them?...yes. However I'm also aware the fees would still be out of reach of a lot of people even with the reduction we get.

He was offered a 100% scholarship to another local school at age eleven but after much agonising we turned it down as the school wasn't right for him.

invicta Sun 09-Feb-14 21:29:13

Purely academic. I can understand how large bursaries would make a difference, but not small ones.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 09-Feb-14 21:38:22

Well you have to apply for them, so I imagine if you enter the process saying you need 15% or the child will have to go elsewhere then that 15% is making a difference. But if you apply in the hope of 40% and are offered 15% then it makes a difference the other way...

The other thing is that a school has to really want your child to offer a bursary. So the fact of having anything offered at all can be a huge confidence booster to the whole family. That might count for as much or more than a relatively small award.

LadyMuck Sun 09-Feb-14 21:59:31

On the scholarship side it is an interesting issue. We have a ds who would be a contender for a co curricular scholarship at our preferred school. But he is currently 10. Whilst at present he is adamant that he wants a career in this area, one of the reasons we have chosen independent education is that we want him to be open to a very wide rage of experiences over the next 7 years. We don't particularly want to put him in a box right now. If his interest continues, then great, I know he will have excellent opportunities at his school, scholarship or not. But I definitely don't want him at say 14 to feel that he has to say perform in the orchestra every time when in fact he would rather be on stage or the sports field for the sake of a 10% reduction. We withdrew him from his assessment in the end.

Academically ds has worked incredibly hard over the last year. 8 months ago it looked as if he would be borderline to get into a selective school, but since then he has had scholarship interviews for two of his schools. Whilst I'm proud of the effort he has put in, and would love for him to get some recognition, I'm not sure that he is genuinely an academic scholar, and again would be cautious about him getting such a label. Currently I'm curious to see the outcome of the interviews and whether the schools have spotted that he is simply someone who has slogged through...

Obviously we're in the fortunate position of being able to afford the fees. We have looked at some local schools with potentially hefty scholarship awards, and considered whether it would sway us, but decided not: we have chosen our schools because we think they are the best fit for our ds. We are in an area where a couple of schools have been known to "negotiate" scholarships. Our prep head refuses to get involved in this, and it is clear that staff on both sides find it a bit distasteful...

One of my close friends is desperate for her ds to get a scholarship (essentially honorary) to one of the top London schools "for his cv". I had an academic scholarship at school, but have never yet mentioned it on a cv. I find that my more recent accomplishments are more relevant.

Bursary provision is a whole different ball game I think, as in theory it is means tested.

buggeringon Tue 11-Feb-14 19:05:10

Dd has just been offered 30 percent scholarship which is considerably more than was advertised.

diabolo Tue 11-Feb-14 20:58:09

Back in 1984, I was offered a 100% scholarship to a leading northern girls day school. My own school had 2 of us sit the exam as a test, we had no idea what we were being tested for.

When i passed, the teacher came home with me with one day and explained to my parents what had happened and what was on offer. It was refused on the spot as I "wouldn't fit in". I wouldn't have then, but god, sometimes I wonder what would have happened to me if they'd said yes.

Nowadays, scholarships are very often only offered as a prestige award , rarely with more than a 25% discount.

Still well worth aspiring towards though.

SlightlyTerrified Fri 14-Feb-14 14:59:56

DS has an academic scholarship, it is 50% reduction in fees. They also do arts and sports scholarships which are 10-20%. They do bursaries too which are means tested and are 90% reduction in fees for all siblings also.

SlightlyTerrified Fri 14-Feb-14 15:00:59

We still needed to be able to afford the full fees as we had to put his name down before we knew he had a scholarship, we also have another DC at the school. Even half price fees is a lot of money!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now