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Alternative sources of student funding overview
By David Malcolm
If you’re a student taking a course of further or higher education in the UK, you may be able to get funding from the government that’s specifically for students (eg grants and loans from Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance NI or the Student Awards Agency for Scotland). However, whether you get this funding or not, you may also be able to get support from other sources. Here’s an overview of the alternative funding that’s available, with links to more information.
NUS doesn’t provide financial support to individual students, but we can help you find the funding you need. Speak to an adviser at your students’ union for more information.
To find out about the standard government support that’s available for students (including extra help for special circumstances and bursaries for healthcare courses), see:
Can I get funding from my college or university?
Your college or university may be able to provide you with funds, especially if you’re in financial difficulty. If you’re taking a course of:
Can I claim government benefits?
You may be able to claim social security benefits from the government in addition to any student funding you get. For more information, see Can I claim government benefits as a student?
Can I get tax credits?
Tax credits are payments made by the government to some people with low incomes. You may be entitled to tax credits if you’re a full- or part-time student in further or higher education. For more information, see What tax credits can I get as a student?
Can I get funding from educational charities and trusts?
You may be able to get funding from educational charities and trusts to study for a course of further or higher education, in addition to the usual sources of student income such as loans and grants from the government. For more information, see Can I get student funding from educational charities and trusts?
Can I get a professional or career development loan?
If you want to take a vocational course and can’t get the government’s student funding, you may be able to get a government-backed loan to pay for your course and living expenses, called a Professional and Career Development Loan. For more information, see Can I get a professional or career development loan to fund my studies?
Can I get sponsorship?
Some employers and other organisations may sponsor you to take a course of further or higher education, either full- or part-time. For more information, see Can I get someone to sponsor my studies?
What shall I do if I’m in financial difficulty?
If you’re encountering any financial difficulties, seek guidance as soon as possible. For a good place to start, see Where do I go for help if I’m in financial difficulty?
This information was updated in February 2016. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.