Student grants, bursaries and scholarships

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By in Student Finance. Updated February 2014.

£1000s of funding is missed out on each year by students that don’t even know that they’re eligible for it. Find out if you could be due any support…MonopolymoneyWith the recent increase in tuition fees, there is more financial support for students who need it than ever before, much of which doesn’t ever need to be repaid. Sadly, lots of students just don’t know that there is help available.

As with all sorts of funding though, it can be very confusing! To simplify things, we’ve put together this guide to get you up to speed.

You never know, you might be entitled to a student grant that you didn’t know about…

What is a grant?

Grants and bursariesIt can be a very tricky subject to think about and telling the difference between a bursary and a grant can be complicated.

The simplest way to put it is to see a grant as something offered by student finance or a finance institution to as many people who can reach the criteria. A bursary or scholarship is offered by universities, colleges and charities to only a select number of students who meet the criteria.

This review covers the student grants on offer. We have also compiled a review of the student bursaries, scholarships and rewards on offer in a separate article student bursaries, scholarships and rewards.

Maintenance grant

Student Finance EnglandThe maintenance grant is one of the most common sources of student funding whilst at university. It is offered to students to help them to subsidise their living costs.

You are eligible if:

  • Your household income is below £42,620 for the year
  • You have been a UK citizen for the past 3 years
  • Your course leads to a recognised qualification (check with your university or college).

How much money can you get?

Below is a table of what you will be eligible for in maintenance grant dependent on household income.

Household IncomeMaintenance LoanMaintenance GrantFull Amount
< £25,000£3,862£3,387£7,249
< £42,620£5,530£50£5,580

The DirectGov website states that your student maintenance loan will be cut if you receive a grant. You will lose 50p of your maintenance loan for every £1 you receive as a grant.

How to apply

Simply choose to be income assessed when you apply for student finance here.

Special support grant

moneyhandsThe special support grant is what you are eligible for instead of a maintenance grant if you are on income or housing support.

The main difference is that you are still able to claim the whole amount of your maintenance loan as opposed to it getting cut 50p for every £1.

You are eligible if:

  • You are a single parent
  • Your partner is also at university
  • You have a disability
  • You claim or are eligible for income support or housing benefit.

How much money can you get?

You could receive up to £3,862 for this student grant as the value is closely related to the maintenance grant values. What’s more, the special support grant does not count as an income so you will still be eligible for other benefits at the same time.

How to apply

Apply at the same time as applying for student finance here.

Travel grant

travelsignsWhilst you are at university (dependent on your course and location) you mayhave to do a lot of travelling. This student grant is quite selective but is there to help those that need it.

Every little counts!

You are eligible if:

  • You travel to a hospital as part of your medical, nursing etc. course
  • You travel abroad to study for at least 50% of the term
  • You are in full-time university education
  • You are receiving income based support.

How much money can you get?

Travel costs minus £303. You must use the cheapest form of transport in every situation which means taking the bus as opposed to a taxi.

How to apply

If you are on a medical placement then you will need to complete the SFE Clinical Study Travel Expenses Form. If you are study abroad then you will need to fill in SFE Course Abroad Form and SFE Travel Abroad Expenses Form.

Disabled student grant

Disabled Student GrantsIf you have a disability then you may be eligible for extra funding whilst studying at university. There are a large number of disabilities covered. Mental health conditions and dyslexia are included.

You are eligible if:

  • You are studying for a full time undergraduate or postgraduate course either at university or Open university and distance learning
  • You suffer from a disability that affects your ability to work.

How much money can you get?

Depending on your situation the amount of money you will be eligible for from a student disability grant greatly differs. You may be able to claim for specialist equipment (up to £5,212), a non-medical helper (up to £20,725), a general allowance (up to £1,741 a year) and travel allowances.

How to apply

In each case there will be different allowances so it’s best to check with student finance and take a look here.

NHS bursary, grant and funding

Medical BursariesIf you are studying towards a medical degree or something similar then you may be able to claim a bursary through the NHS. It applies for social work, medicine, dentistry, or healthcare like nursing.

You are eligible if:

  • You are studying towards a degree in social work, medicine, dentistry, or healthcare like nursing.

How much money can you get?

£1,000 from the NHS grant, £3,263 maintenance loan from student finance and a £5,460 bursary from the NHS.

The size of the bursary depends on a few factors that include: where you live, where you study, whether you live with your parents, how many hours you study a week & household income.

How to apply

You can apply for an NHS student bursary and find more information here.

Teaching grants and finance

Trainee Teachers FundingIf you are looking into becoming a teacher then you can apply for the same grants, bursaries and funding as everyone else. However, you may also be eligible for some student finance through a teacher training course.

You are eligible if:

  • You are on a full-time or part-time initial teacher training degree course such as a BEd, BSc or Ba.
  • You are studying for a full-time or part-time PGCE.

How much money can you get?

You are able to apply for other finance sources on offer and the amount you could get depends on a wide variety of things.

How to apply

For more information on applying and for more information see here.

Access to Learning fund

moneyIf you run into money and finance troubles while you are at university then there is an access to learning fund that you can apply for through all universities and colleges in England.

The fund is there to help students who are in a bad debt situation and need money to help them carry on their studies to the end.

You are eligible if:

  • You are a full-time undergraduate or postgraduate
  • You can prove that you have managed your finances responsibly

How much can you get?

There is no exact amount paid out for the access to learning fund and each case is individually looked at. The money is there to cover costs that you are struggling to pay that are not covered by other forms of finance.

How to apply

You will need to apply through the student services at your university. If you are looking to apply for this type of funding then you need to make sure you are ready to let the student services scrutinise your bank statements and spending.

National Scholarship Programme

The National Scholarship Programme or (NSP) was introduced in 2012/13 to encourage students from poorer backgrounds to still go to university despite the huge rise in fees. It won’t affect any of your other student loan or student grant entitlements.

You are eligible if:

  • Your family’s income is below £25,000 a year
  • You go to a participating university (check here).

How much can you get?

Each university receives a certain number of £3,000 contributions from the government and they have to match that which means each student is entitled to a £6,000 scholarship.

Each university will decide how the money is distributed and it could be anything from help with paying for accommodation to a £1,000 cash bursary.

How to apply

If your university is one of the participating institutions of the National Scholarship Programme then you will need to contact them directly to find out if you are fully eligible.

Bursaries, scholarships and awards

Oxford uni emailThese forms of funding are given by universities, colleges, local charities and educational trusts. We have already seen two similar funding sources to this which are the National Scholarship Programme and the Access to Learning fund.

It is paid in addition to your other loans and you do not have to pay it back at any point.

You are eligible if:

  • You fit the criteria of the charity or university for a particular bursary or scholarship
  • It is potentially open to everyone.

How much can you get?

It varies hugely in how much you can get.

How to apply

It is very tricky to look for and apply for bursaries and scholarships. There are a wide number of charities and universities that offer niche bursaries or scholarships that may be right for you.

We have compiled a list of bursaries and scholarships on offer for you. See student bursaries and student scholarships UK in our dedicated review.

Leave a comment

18 Responses to “Student grants, bursaries and scholarships”

  1. Lynn

    10. Dec, 2014


    Is it possible to get help if you are a post grad but under 24?

    • Jake Butler

      10. Dec, 2014

      Hi Lynn, there is currently no support for post-grads through the government although there may be private firms, charities etc that will sponsor you. It’s a case of tracking them down yourself.

    • Lynn

      11. Dec, 2014

      thanks Jake. The govenment are all too quick to give benefits to people who dont even live here or have paid into the system but does not want to help people wanting to better themselves… just senseless to me

      • Jake Butler

        12. Dec, 2014

        Everyone has to pay for their own post-grad studies so it’s currently a level playing field.

        I am not quite sure what you are getting at by saying the government gives money to people who don’t even live here?

  2. Rachael C.

    21. Nov, 2014


    I am applying for secondary teacher training programmes due to start in September 2015.

    I am worrying about how I will cope financially whilst studying. Is there anyone who can give me any advice or point me towards any other bursaries etc. that are not obvious?
    I’d be grateful for any help..

  3. lisa

    13. Aug, 2014

    Hi. If you have savings are you still eligible for maintenance loans and student grants? I will be doing a full time BA in Primary Ed.

    • Jake Butler

      18. Aug, 2014

      Hi Lisa, all taxable earnings are taken into account when calculating household income.

  4. louise

    17. Jun, 2014

    My daughter has just found out that she would have been eligible for a bursary whilst doing her PGCE which she has just finished. Is it correct that she cant make a retrospective claim for this? It seems the confusion is due to the fact that she thought she couldn’t claim due to the fact that she lives with her partner. She has been told today that she would have still been eligible. She’s in debt and could have really been helped by this. Please let me know if you think it’s worth pursuing further.

    Many thanks

  5. Nicolle

    10. Jun, 2014

    I am going into my 2nd year with the OU and moving up to full time intensity. Will i be eligible for any of these grants as i am also a single parent.

    Thank you

  6. Morson

    24. Feb, 2014

    I am studying at the college of estate management and am looking for financial aid to the college which about 8500 pounds for the whole four and half years .I was given a bursary of 50% bursary for the first semester I paid on my own but the second semester am failing to pay to the college,and the amount for this semester is 950 pounds which is starting on March 31,2014

    • Jake Butler

      24. Feb, 2014

      Hi Morson, I would suggest that you contact your student services for any advice on financial difficulty.

      • Morson

        04. Mar, 2014

        I have contacted my student service and there are saying they can not offer me scholarship

        • Jake Butler

          04. Mar, 2014

          Hi Morson,

          As stated in the article, unfortunately not everyone is eligible for a scholarship or other forms of funding.

          In this case I would suggest seeking out ways to earn extra cash elsewhere such as in a part-time job.

  7. Rebecca

    10. Aug, 2013

    Could someone help me , with some hints about going back to studies and finding the minimum fee charge for fees -2013-1014 ?
    I am looking to go back to the language faculty .But , I am trying to pay fees on my own.Is that possible ?
    I am in my final year for French .Possibly with english and /Greek(Modern) .

    • Jake Butler

      12. Aug, 2013

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Are you heading back to do an undergraduate course or masters?

      It is of course possible to pay the fees yourself but you will have to have the money available. You may have to look at studying part-time and having a job while you are studying.


  8. anan

    18. Mar, 2012

    where can i get SFE Clinical Study form

    • Jake Butler

      19. Mar, 2012

      Hi. There is currently no source on the internet where you can find one. I would suggest giving your university a quick call to see if they would be able to help.

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