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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Bursaries, scholarships and awards

If you’re doing a full-time higher education course in England, you may be entitled to extra support from your university or college in the form of a bursary. Some universities also offer scholarships - and there are some charities and educational trusts which may be willing to award you extra financial help.

Bursaries and scholarships: what are they?

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Bursaries and scholarships are extra sources of financial help from colleges and universities. They’re paid on top of any student loans or grants you may get. They may be paid in cash or in another form - such as a discount on accommodation.

Bursaries and scholarships don’t have to be repaid.

Colleges and universities in England must offer you at least a minimum bursary payment if you are:

  • paying maximum tuition fees, and
  • getting the full Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant

If you're a new student starting in 2010/11, you can use the Student Finance Calculator to find out what kind of financial help is available from each university and college.

How to apply for a bursary or scholarship

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Your university or college will be able to tell you more about the bursaries and scholarships they offer and how to apply.

Some universities and colleges ask Student Finance England to administer their bursaries and scholarships on their behalf.

When you complete the main student finance application you'll be asked whether you consent to Student Finance England sharing your details with your university or college. In most cases, giving your consent allows Student Finance England to use this information on behalf of your university or college to assess what you're entitled to.

However, a small number of universities and colleges handle their own bursary schemes. You'll need to give them financial information directly - even if you have consented. 

Check with your chosen university or college to find out what the process is.

Minimum bursary payments

Many universities and colleges offer more than the minimum bursary

Universities and colleges decide what’s available, but those based in England have to offer a minimum payment to students who are from England and get the full Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant.

This minimum payment depends on the tuition fees the university or college charges - but for 2010/11, institutions asking for the maximum tuition fees (£3,290) have to offer at least £329.

Many universities and colleges offer considerably more than the minimum: in 2008/09 the typical bursary for a student receiving the full Maintenance Grant on a course charging full tuition fees was £800. In lots of cases, bursaries are available to a range of students - you don’t necessarily have to be getting the full grant.

You can only apply for bursaries if you started your course in September 2006 or later.

More about scholarships

Many colleges and universities also offer scholarships. Availability can be based on a range of factors - such as your A level grades, the subjects you studied, or where you live.

You can find out what’s on offer from your university or college’s website, or from their student support office.

Bursaries and scholarships: how they’re paid

Usually, you’ll get a direct payment from your college or university. But some provide support in kind, such as:

  • discounts on accommodation
  • discounts on books
  • free transport (for example, by providing a bicycle)

Extra help: grants and awards from charitable trusts

There are a number of trusts and charities which provide financial help to students. You may be able to get an award from one of these organisations on top of the student finance package provided by the government.

Get advice from EGAS

The Educational Grants Advisory Service (EGAS) provides advice on education and training grants - especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Finding out more

You can also ask an adviser at your university or college, or at most public libraries. Useful publications include:

  • the Educational Grants Directory
  • the Charities Digest
  • the Grants Register
  • the Directory of Grant Making Trusts

Extra help: if you are a care leaver

If you are leaving local authority care, you may be able to get extra financial help for taking a higher education course.

You can get this extra help if:

  • your course lasts at least two years (either full time or part time)
  • you started the course on or after 1 September 2008
  • you were under 25 when you started the course

If you’re eligible, the local authority that looked after you will pay you a one-off bursary of £2,000. You would get this payment automatically – there’s no need to apply for it.

To find out more, speak to your Personal Adviser.

On top of this, some universities also offer grants for students who’ve been in care. For more information, speak to the student support office at your university.

Travel and mobility grants

Travel Grant

If you study abroad - or you’re on a medical or dental course and attend clinical training locations within the UK - you may be able to claim back some of your travel costs. You must pay the first £303 of these costs yourself.

You may also be able to get help to cover the costs of medical insurance, visas and vaccinations. When you apply for student finance, you will be asked about where you will be studying as part of your course. If you are eligible to apply for the Travel Grant, Student Finance England will send you an application pack.

Mobility grants from the Erasmus programme

As part of the Erasmus programme for European study, mobility grants are available to eligible students who want to do part of their higher education course in one of the 31 countries taking part in the scheme.

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