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Scholarships, bursaries and transparency

(10 Posts)
Alsoplayspiccolo Sun 01-Dec-19 09:42:01

DD is currently applying for 6th form places at independent schools. She has applied for scholarships and bursaries at both.

School A has a very clear timeline, with closing dates for applications and dates when outcomes will be released.

School B has a closing date for scholarship applications but not for bursary applications, and no date given for when students will be notified of outcome.
The school website says that they are able to offer 100% bursaries, but when we enquired about bursaries in general, the admissions office replied that the pot for next year isn't very big.

Since there is no cut off date for applying for bursaries and no set date to be notified of a decision, how does this work? First come, first served?

DD has already had the scholarship interview/audition for school B but has no idea when she'll find out the results. Meanwhile, school A has a cut off date for accepting the offer of a scholarship.

We assumed a school would have a set bursary allocation per year and that would be allocated at the time of new applications for years 7 and 12; that seems to be the case with school A.

LarkDescending Sun 01-Dec-19 09:59:33

I’d suggest that if and when you receive an offer from School A you ring the bursar of School B, tell them what’s on the table from A and ask for a realistic assessment of whether B is likely to be able to offer something which would persuade you not to accept A within the given window.

Lightsabre Sun 01-Dec-19 10:06:26

Perhaps they're allocated on exam performance? They allocate to top scorers first and wait to see if the accept. Suggest you do as a pp said re; calling school B when you have an offer from school A.

BubblesBuddy Sun 01-Dec-19 10:11:37

The usual system is that the bursary offer is notified at the same time as an offer of a place. Is there no date for any decision by school B? Not even acceptance? Clearly if 50% of applicants want a bursary then it’s a big issue for them and hard decisions have to be made.

Bursary pots are not the same amount each year in many schools. Older, very rich schools can make forward plans fairly easily from well established income streams. Other schools pay for bursaries primarily from fee income and less from the bursary investments. Both of these can vary greatly. Where fees are owed to the school or there is less fee income due to many bursary children, it compromises future bursaries. Therefore it’s not an exact science. My inclination would be to take what you are offered first. 100% bursaries are fairly rare and many schools are more inclined to offer 3 x 33%. However it depends on the school. I think that if they are being cagey they are not rich and do not necessarily give out many 100% bursaries.

Alsoplayspiccolo Sun 01-Dec-19 10:16:49

Thanks, both. It looks like that's all we can.

With regards to scholarships, DD has applied for a performing arts one at school B. She's been told that the panel that auditioned her don't actually decide who gets the scholarships; the head does. The school doesn't say anywhere how many are offered, whereas school A clearly state numbers for each of music, art, sport etc.

If I'm honest, school B feels a bit like anything but academic scholarships are an afterthought, and perhaps more down to what's left in the kitty than trying to attract students who excel in a particular area; the academic scholarships have already been offered, apparently.

Alsoplayspiccolo Sun 01-Dec-19 10:23:35

BubblesBuddy, thanks.
We're not looking for 100% or actually anywhere near that, fortunately. A friend is a governor at school B and she recently boasted that they have a very healthy bursary pot, due to being a GDST school.
I understand the bursary pot isn't the same size each year, but you'd think it would all be allocated at the same time, otherwise how do they ever decide how much any one pupil can be given? It seems strange to be able to hold money back, just in case someone applies in the Easter term for the following September entry?

BubblesBuddy Sun 01-Dec-19 18:41:21

I do agree with you. GDST tend to award bursaries to very low income families. Their schools also have lots of applicants I think. Where DSis lives the cut off was £35,000 income. Surely they have a deadline for applications? It seems odd that they don’t.

However, they are independent and can be as opaque as they wish to be with their own money. Neither do they have to spend every penny every year on new pupils. They could offer bursaries to existing pupils for example.

I’m not sure how bursary income is generated but it might not be easy to predict. If they have offered the academic awards (are these bursaries too?) it seems they have a timetable for admission. It might not be as generous as your friend thinks either, especially for non academic scholarships and bursaries. The Head will have the final decision having taken financial advice. quality of candidates and circumstances into account. That’s quite usual too.

Genevieva Mon 02-Dec-19 15:10:57

Some schools offer places on a needs blind basis, because they don't want the offer of a place to be affected by the need for a bursary. The applicant then accepts the offer subject to a bursary assessment. The school provides a bursary application form for the applicant's family to complete. The school then considers the financial circumstances of the applicant (and other applicants) and the size of the bursary pot for that year, before allocating the money. There is inevitably variability, depending on where the bursary money comes from, how many children are currently receiving bursaries, how many have applied and their own needs. For example, some of the bursary money is drawn from donations gained by fund raising, while other bursary money may come from an endowment that allows the school to use the dividends but not the capital, so that bursaries can continue to be offered in the future. The value of donations and dividends can vary from year to year. Schools also put a certain amount of fee income into the bursary pot. WIth the sharp increases in employer pension contributions for teachers this year, there is less disposable income for such purposes.

EwwSprouts Mon 02-Dec-19 16:02:07

DS school will in give bursaries in year to an existing pupil if there has been an exceptional change in circumstances so I can see why some money may be held back.

Alsoplayspiccolo Tue 03-Dec-19 08:04:12

Genevivia, DS is at school A and when he was offered a place, that's how it worked; in his case, you could only apply for a bursary if you first won a scholarship, so we had to wait for his offer and then apply for the bursary.
It's changed since then, and now scholarships and bursaries are applied for at the same time, and students are informed of the outcome of both at the same time, in a given timescale and have to be accepted by certain dates.

DD is already at school B. She had a closing date by which to apply for the scholarship, but not for the bursary. The parents of external candidates applying for bursaries had to have an interview last week. We've filled in an online form and that generated a request for documental evidence, but no-one will say when we'll be told of the outcome of either the scholarship ( audition was several weeks ago) or the bursary.

I understand the school can allocate their funds as they choose and don't have any requirement to tell us how/why, but the lack of info about when is a bit rubbish and feels slightly chaotic, and it felt rather that the admissions office was trying to put us off applying for a bursary. ( When DD entered the school in year 8, we asked the same person about bursaries and she waved us off, saying that they were only offered in year 7; we've since found out that's not the case).

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