Applying for bursaries and scholarships – student tips
Want to apply for a bursary or scholarship, but not sure how the process works? Students who secured extra cash told us their top tips...
In fact, research by The Scholarship Hub has suggested that £150 million in scholarships is left on the table each year!
Make sure you're not missing out on money that's ripe for the picking. As part of our annual student survey, we asked those students who did apply for extra funding to share their tips below – see if they've poked a hole in your biggest concern or excuse that's stopping you...
Not sure what support is available? Read our full guide on extra funding to help you manage the cost of university.
Identify all available funding
The wider you cast your net when it comes to hunting for extra funding, the more likely you are to be successful.
Use Google to research who the big players are in fields or sectors tied to the subject you're applying to. If they don't explicity mention anything about scholarships or university funding for students on their website, drop them a quick message introducing yourself; explain your university plans and any goals you have for the future (eg a particular career path) and ask whether they offer any financial support.
Worst case, they don't reply and you've lost a few minutes of your day; but best case, your initiative and enthusiasm impresses them and they can help you in some way (plus it gives you a foot in the door for future work experience, internships and graduate schemes).
Ask once, and the opportunities may snowball from there
Reaching out directly to your university's student services or finance department is the first step to making yourself known to them, especially if you speak to a specific individual. When opportunities pop up for funding that match your criteria, they'll know to get in touch with you.
Don't be afraid to pick up the phone or fire off a quick email – no matter how simple you think your question might be, the university will be best equipped to answer it (and not just when it comes to finance questions either, but also any questions you have about entry requirements, housing or the course too). Plus, universities will vary in what extra funding is available they offer, so don't assume anything.
They can get busy, but they should aim to respond as soon as possible.
Don't know what to ask at an open day?
A good approach to an open day is to have a handful of questions to ask at the end. You could have a long journey to get there and back, so you want to make sure you're getting the most out of it.
Before heading to one, check what the day will involve. Are there mandatory talks or sessions, or do you have some flexibility to pick and choose what you do/see? If the latter, a finance-related session may be worth checking out.
What you do in your spare time might open up opportunities...
As might your school grades...
Or where you're from...
An EPQ might help too
Learn more about Extended Project Qualifications and how they can give your university application a boost.
Missed the deadline for most scholarship applications? If you've crunched the numbers and going to university will be a real struggle without the extra help, consider putting it off for a year and working in the meantime to save some cash.
This will give you time to plan ahead and apply for scholarships the following year, as well as build up any skills and experience you can bolster your application with.
Be organised and take initiative
Scholarships and bursaries can be competitive, especially if the criteria to apply is quite open; so don't wait around. Hopefully you should have most of your parents' financial information to hand from when you applied for student finance, which can save time.
Also, it's really worth working out what your living costs might look like as soon you can. Many students are surprised by the typical cost of university life, including those bills which mum and dad are likely to have been taking care of (eg monthly phone bill, household bills).
See what student life will cost you each month, try our student budget calculator.
Consent to share your income
This one came up a lot, and it boiled down to simply ticking a box when applying for student finance. Easy!
Read the small print before doing so to confirm you're happy with how your information will be used. Often this is simply the best way for universities to identify the students from low income households who could benefit most from extra help.
If the comments above are anything to go by, it could pay off big time, with little to no extra work on your behalf.
Not another personal statement...
If you've already written your personal statement as part of your Ucas application, you'll have some practice talking yourself up in the best way possible in an essay format.
However, it's worth doing some further research into the provider of the bursary and how the bursary came about. This might give you some ideas for what you should emphasise here.
Need personal statement help? Check out our tips and advice, or build your first draft with our tool.
Like writing a personal statement above, an interview may be a familiar scenario you find yourself in when applying to universities. Again, do your research about whoever is providing the bursary to give you a few talking points to jump on.
Don't fret if you're asked to complete a presentation as part of this. Often your interviewer will come up with a topic or project that's quite broad or subjective, to see how you think and respond to this.
And while you're seeking financial support, it's not about gaining sympathy with the biggest sob story to 'win' over your interviewer (so hold the tears). If you've encountered or overcome certain hardships up to now, don't shoehorn these in. Bring it up when asked or where it feels appropriate to the point you're making.
* Data and comments source: Which? University Student Survey 2018, conducted by Youthsight on behalf of Which? with 5,000 undergraduate students at UK universities between March and April 2018.