Student finance

How do I find out which bursaries and scholarships are available?

By Bethan Rowe (Researcher, Which? University) - 01 February 2014

Students talking on campus

From universities to charities, fee waivers to scholarship schemes, financial support for students comes in all shapes and sizes. This can sometimes make it tricky to actually pinpoint what extra money is out there, and if you’re eligible for any of it.

Get started on your hunt for funding with one or more of these pointers.

Get it from the horse’s mouth

The best place to look for information about funding (scholarships and bursaries and whatever) is the individual website of the institution that’s offering it. All the details about whether you’re eligible, what help is on offer, and how to apply will be there.

If you’re looking for information on funding from a charity, the Family Action's Educational Grants Trust Search website allows you to search for information on hundreds of trusts that offer funding to students.

And if you’re looking for funding from your local council – why not check their website.

Tip: Don’t be shy and don’t assume you won’t be eligible - if you can’t find the information you’re looking for, there will be a number you can ring. The benefit of ringing up means you can get answers to your questions when you need them.

They’ll contact you

It’s important to remember that in many cases – especially with funding from universities and colleges - you won’t need to actively look for funding. Universities and colleges will contact you.

How, you might ask? Because the Student Loans Company (SLC) and universities and colleges work together, so they’re not relying on you to remember to fill in an application form. Details of your household income will be passed on from SLC to the universities and colleges when you register with them.

Tip: it’s important you provide your details and consent to share. Otherwise universities and colleges will have to contact you and ask – and this might mean you won’t get financial support as quickly or at all.

Dig into the detail

Any university or college in England offering degree courses with a £6,000+ price tag has to make extra arrangements to offer bursaries, summer schools and outreach programmes to encourage applications from students from all backgrounds to go into higher education. These are included and published in an ‘access agreement’ before September of each year. You can use these agreements to find out what funding a university will be offering to new students.

All access agreements can be found here. But be warned – no two access agreements look the same and sometimes finding what you need from them is far harder than searching on a website. But it’s good to know all the options.

Tip: this option isn’t for the faint-hearted – access agreements can be lengthy, unwieldy and confusing in some cases. We did warn you!

If you don’t know what you want to do yet

You can search and compare available schemes from different universities, colleges, charities and councils using websites such as EGTS (see above), Scholarship Search, Student Cashpoint and Unigrants.

Because a lot of scholarship and bursary schemes are awarded directly by universities and colleges, it’s more helpful if you’ve at least got an idea of what you want to study, or where.
 

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