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On the Beat - Senior Edition - April 2018

BURSARIES FOR BEGINNERS

BURSARIES FOR BEGINNERS “Money is tight. I feel guilty about every cent I cost and every cent I spend. How can I make things easier? I can’t find a job that works with studying. I want to make my family’s burden lighter.” Perhaps this is you, maybe it’s better, maybe it’s worse: “I am broke. My family is broke. I don’t know how I will register for the next year. I don’t know where to start with applying for funding. I have no way of getting surety for a bank loan. I can’t see how I am going to spread the little my family has between transport, food, tuition, rent and other living expenses.” Let’s be honest, there’s never enough money. Somehow our ambitions and needs consistently seem to trump our available funds. Of course, this phenomenon is a more problematic reality for some than others. When our studies, our daily lives and the circumstances of our benefactors are negatively impacted by our needs to finance our studies we need to look for help elsewhere. For many the first thought would be a loan, and this makes perfect sense. We are all but guaranteed of a sturdy income once we finish our studies, so the problem would only be to manage a job during the time we are studying… (that bit where you work but you must pay to work for someone else). A loan would allow us to delay the burden of being a student to a time that we are in fact capable of affording it. Unfortunately, this comes with the responsibility of later having to pay back the loan, which some people might want to try and avoid. This leaves us with bursaries. What now? Don’t rule them out - consider applying for a loan, from NFSAS, the Loan Guarantee Fund, a bank or another financial service provider. Two useful places to start would be your bank and/or Eduloan. Consult www.fundi.co.za to get an idea of loan quotations. Browse your UP portal: Student Centre to see if you can apply for fee adjustment or financial aid. Bursaries can be viewed as “guaranteed employment” once you finish, depending on the conditions of your particular bursary, and they can cover more than just tuition. Textbooks, accommodation and living expenses are sometimes included as well. A few good places to start looking for bursary providers are websites of the provincial Department of Health and

companies associated with medical professionals, like PPS. Pay attention to newspapers, announcement boards and class related WhatsApp and Facebook groups. Often news about bursaries are passed through these channels, like the South African Medical Association’s bursaries. There are a couple important things to note when applying for a bursary: Application criteria: your latest results, proof of financial need, area of residence, citizenship etc. Application documents to accompany your application: ID, proof of residence, parents’ payslips, photograph, CV, testimony and, but not limited to, letter of motivation are usually requested. Check everything: don’t send in any documents or forms with grammatical errors or incorrect information. Make sure of the opening and closing date of the bursary in question. Don’t apply for one bursary, apply for as many as you are eligible for to increase your chance of being selected. Where is my balance? As one can imagine, being a medical student takes a lot more than just attending a few lecturers and submitting your assignments on time. Yet, of our peers work or study other degrees whilst being fulltime medical students. Many resigned from their previous jobs or left in the middle of their degrees in pursuit of their medical dream, but some have a different story to tell. A second year medical student who works par-time as a professional nurse at Steve Biko Academic Hospital says she works a maximum of 36 hours per week. Another nurse, who has been working at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital for four years, says he works 72 hours a week and rests on alternative weeks. He explained that it is very difficult to balance studying and work. The majority of students have resorted to working whilst studying as they simply cannot afford tuition or residence fees. When asked “why study medicine?” they responded: “Nurses can only go so far

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