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Can I get student funding from educational charities and trusts?

By David Malcolm

Friday 8 March 2013 Other sources of funding

You may be able to get funding from educational charities and trusts to study for a course of further or higher education in the UK, in addition to the usual sources of student income such as loans and grants from the government. Here’s an overview of some of the options that are available, with links to more information.

What funding is available?

Thousands of charities and trusts make grants to individual students for their education each year. If your course lasts for more than a year it’s unlikely that you can get this funding for your entire course, but educational charities and trusts can provide supplementary help if you lack funding for part of your course, or if you need more help than you get from government funds.

Students don’t usually receive more than about £300 to £500 from any one charity. Charities generally make single rather than recurrent payments.

Payments tend to be for particular items (eg tools or equipment) or for a specific purpose (eg childcare, or payments to help make the difference between whether you complete your course or not).

Can I get funding from educational charities and trusts?

Educational charities and trusts often restrict their funding to specific groups of students, eg those undertaking a particular course of study, above or below a certain age (often 21 or 25), from particular parts of the UK or countries of the world, or in defined occupations, professions or industries. So make sure you check the eligibility criteria carefully before you apply.

Many charities only give assistance to first-time students. You may find it more difficult to find assistance if you’re a postgraduate student or taking a second undergraduate course.

Charities are often more sympathetic to students who need assistance because of sickness or unforeseen circumstances than to students who have mismanaged their money or who started a course knowing they had insufficient funds.

Applications often take some time to process, so apply for support well in advance of your course start date.

How do I find out which charities and trusts provide funding?

Several publications contain details of the trusts and charities that provide funding. These include:

Look for them in your local library or advice centre. You can also ask your local authority, students’ union, careers service, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and local religious groups whether they know of any smaller local trusts.

Many universities and colleges also offer bursaries, scholarships and prizes, so it’s worth contacting student services or your department. For more information, see Can I get higher education funding from my university or college?

Here are some resources to help you find what’s available:

  • Turn2us is a charitable service that helps people access the money available to them – through grants and other help.

Also, UNESCO has useful information about studying abroad.

Here are some examples of educational charities and trusts:

  • Elizabeth Nuffield Educational Fund – grants are awarded for childcare to women aged 21 to 50 taking courses of higher education – but not at postgraduate level, through distance learning or for some courses (eg dance and drama).
  • The Royal Scottish Corporation training grants – grants are awarded to students in financial need who have lived within a 35 mile radius of Charing Cross, London for at least two years and are either Scottish born or who are the child, spouse, widow or widower of someone born in Scotland. You may get a one-off training grant to help with the cost of fees, course books, equipment or living costs. Students must be on a recognised training course, preferably one that leads to employment, and priority is given to adults who are re-training.
  • Helena Kennedy Foundation Awards – grants are awarded to students who have successfully completed a programme of study at a further education college and are progressing to their first higher education course. The awards are aimed at non-traditional students. Only one application per college is allowed, so you must speak to your college about applying.
  • British Federation of Women Graduates Scholarships – grants are awarded on the basis of overall academic excellence to postgraduate women students who aren’t in their first year of study.

This information was updated in March 2013. 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.