A bursary is strictly an office for a bursar
A bursar is a senior professional financial administrator in a school or university.Billing of student tuition accounts are the responsibility of the Office of the Bursar. This involves sending bills and making payment plans with the ultimate goal of getting the student accounts paid off...

 and his or her staff in a school or college.

In modern English usage, the term has become synonymous with "bursary award", a monetary
Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally in the past,...

 award made by an institution to an individual or a group to assist the development of their education.

According to The Hobsons UK Boarding Schools Guide, many independent schools have bursaries, which are grants from the school to help pay the fees. These are usually awarded after a ‘means test’ of family income and are not dependent on examination performance, although some account will be taken of academic ability. Bursaries may be awarded in addition to a scholarship where financial need is demonstrated and the child would otherwise be unable to enter the school.

To obtain a bursary, parents will usually be asked by the school’s bursar to fill in an application form, giving details of their financial circumstances, supported by documentary evidence, including capital assets. The application will be considered by the school in accordance with its bursary policy. The award will often only remain in force until the pupil has sat the next relevant public examination; an award made before GCSE will not necessarily continue into A-level. Most schools will review bursaries annually to ensure that the justification for an award remains.

According to the Good Schools Guide, a bursary is "Usually for helping out the impoverished but deserving and those fallen on hard times."

There are two types of bursary awarded by institutions (such as universities
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

). The first is a mean-tested bursary which is available for all students whose parents earn under a threshold value per annum. It is often given out using a sliding scale, with people at the lowest end of the scale getting a full bursary, and the monetary award decreasing in value with proportion to the parental earnings.

The second type of bursary is one based on performance- a scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

. These awards are generally given for good performance in the exams preceding university/college entrance, where the student gets grades above the standard entry. These can be awarded by the university, or sometimes by companies.

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