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Student Finance

9 weird university bursaries, grants and scholarships

Ever wondered if you can get extra funding at university? It's not just reserved for those with the top grades – from the weird to the wonderful, you can get money for just about anything...

shocked man in front of money

Credit (foreground): Rachata Teyparsit – Shutterstock

According to our National Student Money Survey, the average monthly Maintenance Loan amount falls £340 short of the monthly cost of living as a student.

However, our survey also revealed that just 38% of you receive funding in the form of grants, bursaries and scholarships – perhaps because too many students think that this money is only for people with the highest grades or those from families with a low household income.

But the truth is, there are all kinds of surprising sources of funding out there, and you'll often find that you're eligible for extra money at uni for the weirdest of reasons. Have a scroll through to see if you're entitled to an unexpected chunk of cash.

These are just a handful of the more unusual pots of money on offer for students – use our guide to extra funding sources to find loads more options.

Weird funding available for university students

Here are the best and most unusual bursaries, scholarships and grants for students:

  1. A grant for being a vegetarian

    fruit and vegetables

    Credit: Lilly Trott – Shutterstock

    In 'Lisa the Vegetarian', the Simpson family famously mocked Lisa's decision to stop eating meat by singing "you don't win friends with salad". What they didn't realise, however, was that in doing so, Lisa became eligible for a grant of up to £500 from The Vegetarian Charity.

    The Vegetarian Charity's grant is on offer to all vegans and vegetarians aged 25 and under and is intended to go towards educational courses and the relief of poverty. In other words, if you're a student (or looking to become one) and need some extra funding, this vegetarian grant applies to you.

    However, don't go thinking that you can just give up meat to get the money. This grant is for people who are already vegetarian or vegan, and you'll need to have two references who can testify that you actually do have a meat-free diet.

  2. A scholarship for being a talented eSports player

    people playing fifa on xbox one

    Credit: icemanphotos - Shutterstock

    Your parents might have told you that sitting in your room playing computer games is a waste of time, but if you're good – and we mean seriously good – then you could get a scholarship worth thousands of pounds.

    The University of Roehampton's eSports scholarship offers £1,500/year to talented eSports players who can "demonstrate talent in the field". Up to 20 students can receive the scholarship each year, but you'll need to keep your grades up if you want to receive the funding year after year.

  3. A bursary for having the surname 'Graham'

    box of golden grahams

    Credit: designs by Jack – Shutterstock

    Sometimes you have to work hard for extra funding at university – other times you're lucky enough to just get given it. In the case of the Graham Trust Bursary Scheme, the latter definitely applies. And as far as weird bursaries go, this is a great one.

    The Graham Trust was established all the way back in 1759 with the aim of helping young boys in the Glasgow area with the surname Graham to attend school and learn trades that would enable them to become "useful members of society".

    Nowadays the eligibility criteria have changed a little bit – most notably, funding is now available for males and females.

    In fact, other than having the surname Graham (or having a parent with that surname), the only other requirements are that you attend a higher or further education institution in the Glasgow area and that you can make a case for financial support.

    Do that, and up to £500 is yours to keep!

  4. A bursary for having parents in the right line of work

    pharmacists and medicine

    Credit: Jacob Lund – Shutterstock

    It's no secret that having parents with the 'right' jobs can mean you're better off at uni than some other students. However, this doesn't just apply to students whose parents are doctors, lawyers and successful entrepreneurs.

    The Leverhulme Charity offers a bursary of up to £3,000 for students who are either the spouse or child of a commercial traveller, pharmacist or grocer, and who are in "financial need".

    The charity is a bit vague on the definition of "financial need", so you'll need to provide some information on your financial situation and how the bursary would help you at university.

    They also have a few stipulations about what constitutes a commercial traveller, pharmacist or grocer – head over to their website for full details.

  5. A scholarship for being able to sing

    glee singers

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    Even if you're not destined for fame and fortune on the levels of Beyoncé, having the voice of an angel could still see you earning a handsome sum of money.

    If you study (or plan to study) at the University of Exeter and reckon your vocal cords are up to the job, you might want to consider joining the Exeter Cathedral Choir. There are multiple scholarship positions available, and if you're successful in applying, you'll receive around £3,500 in funding every year.

    But don't try to sign up, take your money and run. The scholarship is paid in monthly instalments, and they're pretty hot on attendance, meaning this opportunity is probably best suited to students with a genuine passion for choral singing.

  6. A scholarship for being a big American football fan

    american football player throwing ball

    Credit: Mitch Gunn – Shutterstock

    American football is getting more and more popular in the UK, and one of the biggest drivers of this trend has been the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Committed to playing in London at least once a year, the Jags have given British fans the opportunity to watch their favourite stateside sport in person – and now they've brought the famous 'football scholarship' across the pond, too, in the form of the Gridiron Grant.

    If you've been involved in American football in your community for an extended period of time, or have participated in the JagTag programme, this initiative could pay your tuition fees in full.

    The scholarship is paid to two UK students every year (one male and one female) and applications typically close in the spring. Head over to the Jaguars' website for more details on the funding.

  7. A bursary if your parents have served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines

    navy ship at sea

    Credit: Alexander Turovsky – Shutterstock

    It's not unheard of for military personnel (or those who have previously served in the armed forces) to receive extra funding at university.

    But the Greenwich Hospital Bursary goes one step further, providing funding for former members of the Royal Navy/Marines, as well as support for the children of current and former personnel.

    As the child of a current or former marine or naval officer, you could be awarded up to £3,000/year for a maximum of three years. Note, however, that it's only on offer to students in need of financial assistance, and only students at the Universities of Greenwich, Portsmouth and Newcastle are eligible.

  8. A scholarship for studying in Welsh

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    Credit: Eddie Lawrence - Flickr

    If you've been to Wales, know somebody from Wales, or know basically anything about the country, you'll be aware that they're pretty keen to keep the Welsh language going. And for what it's worth, it seems to be working.

    As part of these efforts, a number of colleges and universities offer scholarships to students who study their degree in Welsh (note: that's not a degree in the subject 'Welsh' – just any degree that's taught and completed using the Welsh language).

    One of the most generous Welsh language scholarships we've come across is the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol scholarship at Cardiff University. There are 150 on offer, and it's worth up to £3,000 over three years – not bad if you're fluent enough in Welsh to use it every day.

  9. A scholarship for having gone to school in Pembrokeshire

    pembrokeshire beach town

    As another Wales-based scholarship, if you happened to go to secondary school in Pembrokeshire, you're in luck.

    The Port of Milford Haven Scholarship Programme offers £1,500 to four undergraduate students, just for having "completed the majority of their secondary education in Pembrokeshire". It really is as simple as that.

    You can be a student at any British university, and if you're selected as one of the four lucky recipients, you'll also get a summer placement at the Port of Milford Haven.

    This gives you the opportunity to experience all aspects of the port, including the marine, engineering and business units.

Not from the UK? Check out our guide to scholarships and funding for international students.

See, there really is funding out there for pretty much anything!

But remember, this is by no means a comprehensive list of unusual grants, bursaries and scholarships. Even if you're not eligible for any of these, there could just as easily be an obscure pot of money that you are entitled to – so get looking.

Still struggling to find funding that you're eligible for? Our list of easy ways to make money may be the solution to your problems.


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