university student in cap and gown - student grants and bursaries uk
university student in cap and gown - student grants and bursaries uk

What Student Grants & Bursaries Are Available In The UK?

Needing extra support? Find out what funding options are available to you.

University can make it difficult to manage your finances. Between paying your (extortionate) rent and bills, socialising, and somehow managing to feed yourself, it’s not surprising if you’re worried about making ends meet. 

Luckily though, there’s plenty of free money hidden away in grants and bursaries that most students just simply don’t know about, or they believe they won’t be eligible for it. 

Find out below the ways you may be able to get some extra financial support while at university as well as your student finance.

In this guide:

What is a bursary and how does it work?

Bursaries are sums of money that you don’t need to pay back. A bursary is typically given to students on a non-competitive basis, and based on financial need and personal circumstances.

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds, low household incomes, or from a particular area may be eligible for a bursary. Bursaries usually help with living costs and is a one-off payment offered by universities and even employers to help support young talent.

What is a student grant?

Student grants are similar to bursaries — sums of money you don’t need to repay and aims to help with living costs or specific purposes like studying abroad.

Grants are usually offered by charities or trusts that represent underrepresented groups. They are also offered to those with low household incomes, too. The grants can be used to help support the cost of tuition fees and project funding.

Differences between grants and bursaries

TypeWhat it helps withWhat it’s based onWho it’s offered by
BursaryLiving costsLow household incomes, personal background circumstances like disabled students, students from particular areas/countriesUniversities, employers, or organisations to support young people in their area
GrantLiving costs, specific purposes e.g. studying abroadLow household incomes, personal background circumstances like disabled students, students from particular areas/countriesCharities and trusts that represent the unrepresented groups
Table of differences between grants and bursaries

There aren’t many differences between the two, and you’ll even find some people using the two terms interchangeably. You may find that the eligibility criteria differs between grants and bursaries depending on the organisation offering the support, but typically the criteria is similar.

Student grants and bursaries UK

To make things that little bit easier for you, we’ve gathered a collection of the various different student grants and bursaries that are offered across the UK. 

It’s worth diving into the ones that are in your region, you’ll never know what you might be eligible for!

England

Travel Grants

If you’re studying abroad as part of your university course or have clinical placements in the UK where you’ll need to travel, you may be able to get support with a travel grant. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Full-time university student
  • You meet the UK residence rules
  • Travel abroad to study for your course/UK clinical placement

Students who study abroad can claim return trips between home and the overseas university. But in England, you can’t claim for the first £303 of your costs. Travel Grants in England are means-tested, based on your household income. 

If you’re a student travelling for clinical placements within the UK, you can also apply for travel costs between your home and where your placement is. 

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)

If you have a disability, you could be entitled to Disabled Students’ Allowance which can help cover the extra costs of going to university.

You can get DSA whether you have a physical disability, mental health, or conditions such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, or ADHD
You won’t have to repay any DSA funding and it isn’t based on household income. For full-time undergraduate students in England 2023/24, the maximum DSA you can get is £26,291 per year single allowance. Travel costs are not included in this, so you may also be able to apply for travel expenses.

Dependants’ and Childcare Grants

If you’re responsible for others financially, you could be eligible for some extra support.  These grants are typically for students who are entitled to Student Finance, are responsible for an adult or child who lives with them, or whose income (or that of their household/adult dependant) qualifies for them. 

The funding available in England:

  • Up to 85% of your childcare costs covered
  • Up to £188.90 per week for one child, or £323.85 for two or more

However, if you’re already receiving state benefits that contribute to childcare costs, you may not be entitled to the grant. 

If you’re a full-time student with children, you could be eligible for the Parents’ Learning Allowance. This doesn’t need to be paid back. For students in England, you could be entitled to up to £1,915 of funding per year. 

If you’re a student in England and have an adult dependant, you can receive funding from the Adult Dependants’ Grant — up to £3,354.

NHS Bursary

For students studying healthcare related degrees such as nursing, dentistry, and medicine, you could be entitled to a significant amount of extra funding. 

What you can get

  • Non-mean tested grant of £1,000 per academic year
  • Means-tested bursary based on your household income
  • Tuition fee contribution 

Find out more about NHS bursaries at NHS Business Services Authority

Social Work Bursaries

For students studying social degrees, you could get a bursary to support your academic journey. 

These bursaries are capped to a limited number of students each year, so applying early is important. It doesn’t have to be paid back and isn’t dependent on your household income. 

The amount you’ll get is based on:

  • The cost of your tuition
  • Whether you study full-time or part-time
  • Where you study

For more information on applying, head to gov.uk.

Wales

Special Support Grant (SSG)

Special Support Grants are for individuals on housing or income support, have a disability, or are a single parent. It also doesn’t affect any other benefits you might claim.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Full-time student 
  • Single parent
  • You’re a parent and your partner is also at university
  • You have a disability
  • You claim benefits such as Income Support

Welsh Government Learning Grant/Maintenance Grant

Welsh students could be eligible for a Maintenance Grant if they meet the following criteria:

  • You must live in the UK (or meet other residency requirements)
  • You are a full-time student studying for an eligible qualification

The table below shows the maximum Maintenance Grants available for Welsh students:

LocationMaximum grantHousehold income for full grant
Wales (living at home)£6,885Up to £18,370
Wales (living away from home, outside London)£8,100Up to £18,370
Wales (living at university, in London)£10,124Up to £18,370
Table of maximum grant for Welsh students

Welsh Government Learning Grant (FE)

The Welsh Government Learning Grant (FE) is support for those who want to continue into further education (FE). It’s income-assessed and applicable to students aged 19 or over. 

Eligibility criteria:

  • A UK national, Irish Citizen or have settled status
  • Living in Wales on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • Been living in the UK and Islands for 3 years before starting your course
  • Your course must require you to attend for at least 275 hours during the academic year
  • Be at a participating school or college
  • Lead to a national recognised qualification up to and including Level 3 qualifications

Your household income must be £18,370 or under to be eligible for the grant. Full-time students can get up to £1,500 per year, and part-time students can get up to £750 per year. 

For more information, check out Student Finance Wales

Travel Grants

Studying abroad as part of your course or have a clinical placement somewhere in the UK? You might be able to get some extra help with a travel grant.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Full-time university student
  • You meet the UK residence rules
  • Travel abroad to study for your course/UK clinical placement

Students studying abroad can claim return trips between home and the overseas university. However, in Wales, you can’t claim for the first £303 of your costs much like England. Travel Grants in Wales are means-tested, based on your household income. 

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)

Managing university with a disability is challenging, so the Disabled Students’ Allowance aims to support disabled students and help them to cope with the costs.

You can apply for DSA whether you have a physical disability, mental health, or conditions such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, or autism. The money you get isn’t based on your household income and won’t have to be paid back.
For full-time undergraduates in Wales 2023/24, the maximum DSA you can get is £33,146 per year single allowance. Travel costs are not included in this, so you may also be able to apply for travel expenses.

Dependants’ and Childcare Grants

You may be eligible for some extra support if others financially depend on you.  These grants are for students who are entitled to Student Finance, are responsible for an adult or child who lives with them, or whose income (or that of their household/adult dependant) qualifies for them. 

The funding available in Wales:

  • Up to 85% of your childcare costs covered
  • Up to £187 per week for one child, or £321 for two or more

If you’re a full-time student with children, you could be eligible for the Parents’ Learning Allowance. This doesn’t need to be paid back. For Welsh students, you could be entitled to up to £1,896 of funding per year. 
If you’re in Wales and have an adult dependant, you can receive funding from the Adult Dependants’ Grant — up to £3,322.

NHS Bursary

Across the UK, students studying healthcare degrees like nursing, dentistry, and medicine, could be entitled to extra funding and support. 

What you can get

  • Non-mean tested grant of £1,000 per academic year
  • Means-tested bursary based on your household income
  • Tuition fee contribution 

Find out more about NHS bursaries at Student Award Services.

Social Work Bursaries

If you’re studying a social degree, you could get a bursary to support your academic journey. 

These bursaries are capped to a limited number of students each year, so applying early is important. It doesn’t have to be paid back and isn’t dependent on your household income. 

If available, students can also receive funding to cover any expenses that occur by work-based learning, like travel. 

The amount you’ll get is based on:

  • The cost of your tuition
  • Whether you study full-time or part-time
  • Where you study

Welsh students who study full-time can get £3,750 per year, as well as travel allowance. 

Eligibility:

  • You meet residency rules in Wales
  • You’re on an approved course or degree
  • Not getting similar funding already

Head to Social Care Wales for more information and how to apply.

Scotland

SAAS Bursary

If you’re a Scottish student, you could be entitled to a SAAS Bursary — Student Awards Agency Scotland. You have to meet all the following criteria:

  • Normally live in Scotland
  • Full-time student studying a recognised qualification at a UK university
  • Household income is below £34,000

This bursary doesn’t have to be paid back and the amount you get is dependent on your household income, as well as whether you’re a “Young Student” or “Independent Student”.

What you can get in 2023/24

Household incomeYoung StudentsIndependent Students
Up to £20,999£2,000£1,000
£21,000-23,999£1,125£0
£24,000-33,999£500£0
£34,000 and above£0£0
Table showing the SAAS bursary amount Scottish students are entitled to based on household income

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)

The Disabled Students’ Allowance aims to support disabled students with their costs at university.

You can apply for DSA whether you have a physical disability, mental health, or conditions such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, or autism. The money you get isn’t based on your household income and won’t have to be paid back.

For full-time undergraduates in Scotland 2023/24, you’re entitled to:

  • Large items allowance: £5,160 for the whole course duration
  • Non-medical personal help allowance: £20,520 per year
  • Basic allowance £1,725 per year

Lone Parents’ Childcare Grant

If you’re bringing up a child or sibling by yourself, and are a Scottish student, you could be eligible for a Lone Parents’ Childcare Grant. 

However, the fund is limited so not everyone who is eligible will be able to receive help. Depending on your childcare costs, you can get up to £1,215 — your university or college decides how much you get. 

On top of this grant, you can be eligible for up to £1,305 for Parents’ Learning Allowance.

NHS Bursary

Across the UK, students studying healthcare degrees like nursing, dentistry, and medicine, could be entitled to extra funding and support. 

What you can get

  • Non-mean tested grant of £1,000 per academic year
  • Means-tested bursary based on your household income
  • Tuition fee contribution 

Find out more about NHS bursaries at Student Awards Agency Scotland.

Northern Ireland

Maintenance Grant

If you’re a full-time student from Northern Ireland, you can apply for a Maintenance Grant which doesn’t need to be paid back, unlike the Maintenance Loan. 

To be eligible for the grant, you need to meet all three of the following:

  • Live in the UK (or meet other residency requirements)
  • Full-time student studying for a recognised qualification

For household income up to £19,203, students can receive the maximum grant of £3,457. 

If the household income is between £19,204 and £4,065, students will receive a partial grant. 
For more information regarding Maintenance Grants, head to Student Finance NI.

Special Support Grant (SSG)

If you’re a full-time student in Northern Ireland with circumstances such as the following, you may be eligible for a Special Support Grant:

  • You’re a single parent
  • You’re a parent and your partner is also at university
  • You have a disability
  • You claim/eligible for benefits like Universal Credit of Income Support

It doesn’t need to be paid back and can receive up to £3,475.

Travel Grants

Much like students in other areas of the UK, students from Northern Ireland can also receive travel grants. 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Full-time university student
  • You meet the UK residence rules
  • Travel abroad to study for your course/UK clinical placement

Students studying abroad can claim return trips between home and the overseas university. In Northern Ireland however, you can’t claim for the first £309 of your costs. Travel Grants in Northern Ireland are means-tested, based on your household income.

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)

Students in Northern Ireland who have a long-term health condition, mental health condition, physical disability or a learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia) may be entitled to extra support to help with university costs. 

This isn’t based on household income, but instead is based on individual needs. It can help with costs associated with any specialist equipment you might need, non-medical helpers, and extra travel. 

Northern Ireland students can get up to £25,000 per year maximum. Find out more information at Student Finance NI.

Dependants’ and Childcare Grants

You can be eligible for Dependants’ and Childcare Grants if you’re responsible for others financially. 

These grants are typically for students who are entitled to Student Finance, are responsible for an adult or child who lives with them, or whose income (or that of their household/adult dependant) qualifies for them. 

The funding available in Northern Ireland:

  • Up to 85% of your childcare costs covered
  • Up to £148.75 per week for one child, or £255 for two or more

However, if you’re already receiving state benefits that contribute to childcare costs, you may not be entitled to the grant. 

If you’re a full-time student with children, you could be eligible for the Parents’ Learning Allowance. This doesn’t need to be paid back. For students in Northern Ireland, you could receive a maximum of up to £1,538 per year.

If you’re a Northern Ireland and have an adult dependant, you can receive funding from the Adult Dependants’ Grant — up to £2,695.

NHS Bursary

Students studying healthcare related degrees such as nursing, dentistry, and medicine may be entitled to extra funding and support.

What you can get

  • Non-mean tested grant of £1,000 per academic year
  • Means-tested bursary based on your household income
  • Tuition fee contribution 

Find out more about NHS bursaries at Student Finance Northern Ireland

Social Work Bursaries

Social Work Bursaries are for students studying social degrees.

These bursaries are capped to a limited number of students each year, so applying early is important. It doesn’t have to be paid back and isn’t dependent on your household income. 

The amount you’ll get is based on:

  • The cost of your tuition
  • Whether you study full-time or part-time
  • Where you study

For full-time students in Northern Ireland, you may be entitled to £4,000 per year, plus travel allowance on top.

Hardship funds

If you’re a student and experience financial hardship, you could be eligible for extra funding from your university or college. These are called Hardship Funds

You might be eligible if you’re one of the following:

  • A student with children (especially single parents)
  • A mature student with existing financial commitments 
  • From a low-income family
  • Disabled
  • A student that was previously in care 
  • Homeless or living in a foyer

How much you’ll get is decided by your university and will be paid either in a lump sum or in instalments. Sometimes you won’t need to pay it back, other times you may receive a loan as support, which you may need to pay back depending on what your university decides. 

If you think this is something you need, speak to your university’s student services office. They’ll likely scrutinise your bank statements and spending habits to be sure that the funds are needed and will be used for the correct reasons — i.e. if you’re not recklessly spending your money on things that aren’t essential.

To make your university life that little bit more affordable, check out our amazing Student Beans student discounts.