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Scholarships and bursaries

Finding the funds to pay for everything at university can be a challenge. But there is help available in the form or bursaries and scholarships. All you have to do is find out whether you’re eligible and apply.

These days, university doesn’t come cheap. Along with tuition fees, you’ll need to find the funds to pay for accommodation, food, bills, socialising and more. Your student loan will only go so far, and your time for paid work will be limited by your studies. 

For many students, this can lead to increased financial pressures which can be very stressful. But help is available. Bursaries and scholarships are set up to help those students with much-needed funding. And, unlike student and maintenance loans, this is money you don’t need to pay back. 

What are scholarships and bursaries?

Bursaries are funds set up by both public and private bodies to give eligible students financial assistance to complete their studies. These pots of money are set aside for students who meet certain criteria, such as academic achievement, or simply by a system of means testing. 

While similar, scholarships aim to give students relief from fees and other costs. That means you don’t have to borrow as much and the money you do have stretches further. 

In both cases, you will need to meet certain requirements to be eligible. Funding can be in the form of a one-off payment or ongoing support throughout your time at university. 

As you might imagine, funding that doesn’t need to be paid back is in demand, so you may be up against lots of other applicants. So, it’s worth spending some time on your applications and getting them in early. 

Who are scholarships and bursaries for?

Contrary to what you might think, this kind of funding is not just for academic achievements or students from low-income backgrounds. Scholarships and bursaries are set up for all sorts of reasons - with funding available in certain subject areas and even for some lifestyle choices. Did you know, for instance, that committed vegetarians can get a grant of up to £500 from The Vegetarian Charity?

It’s worth doing a little research in to your chosen university and subject area, as you might find you meet the criteria for one or more funding options. And with the costs of higher education growing every year, every little helps. 

A quick look at the bursaries and scholarships available over recent years shows the variety on offer. They’re available for musical and sporting achievement or talent, for exam performance and other extracurricular activities, such as community work. 

Certain industries and commercial enterprises also offer scholarships to try to attract new talent, with often the added bonus of work experience or employment at the end of your degree. Other funds are aimed at that those who have come from difficult personal or financial backgrounds.

How to find scholarships and bursaries

It can be hard to know where to start if the idea of funding is new to you. However, there are plenty of places to look. 

It’s worth starting with your chosen university or educational institution. Even if they don’t offer them directly, they may be able to offer guidance as to who might. You should also try your local council or education authority.

You can also try industry-leading businesses, government organisations and charities. It’s worth taking the time to do your research, as these bursaries and scholarships are more widespread than you might think. And you need to apply to be in with a chance of successful selection.

How does the application process work?

You need to be proactive. Contact your chosen institution’s customer service department to find out the contact details you need. You can do the same with leading players in your preferred industry. You can then find out how to apply and where to send your application – it could be a few minutes very well spent.

Open days are also a great place to speak to someone face to face, so don’t be afraid to go along and ask questions.

The earlier you apply the better – as with everything in life. These funds don’t hang around for long so it’s best to get in early. 

You may be required to write a personal statement or prepare for an interview, and you should take these processes very seriously. Do your research, make sure you have prepared any financial information that may be required, and be honest about your situation. 

Alternatives to bursaries and scholarships

Even if you don’t qualify or succeed in getting funding in the above ways, there are other avenues available. Rather than giving you funding, some institutions might assess your situation and agree to a fee waiver – which reduces the amount you need to pay. 

More information from The Uni Guide on student finance

Student loan repayments

How student finance actually works

What you will spend your money on at university

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