Did you know, that in addition to scholarships and bursaries, there are also thousands of small charities and trusts in the UK which give out grants for a wide range of reasons, including for educational purposes.
A lot of these charities have been set up to address particular issues and so their grants will be for particular purposes, but they are not all for hardship. Some for example, might be to fund a travel abroad project, or to support people from particular councils or boroughs to go on to further their studies. Many are to support students in their studies.
Here is a list of reasons grants might be awarded, based on:
• where you live
• your financial circumstances
• what your parents or sometimes other relatives do for a living
• any illnesses or disabilities you may have
• any special interests, activities or hobbies such as music, sport, drama
• religion or ethnicity
• whether you are the first in your family to attend university
• any circumstances which present you with particular barriers to education
• if you have specific career aspirations
Where do you find out about these grants?
You can find details of all these in The Guide to Educational Grants, published by The Directory for Social Change. It is an expensive publication to buy but it is usually available as a reference book in public libraries. Alternatively, why not find out more about our membership benefits, which will give you online access to an additional database of 3,500 charities and trusts as well as many other tools and resources to help you in your search.
How to apply
First, have a think about the reasons you might be eligible for a grant. Each grant will have its own application process and eligibility criteria. Once you have done your research and have a list of relevant funds you can apply for, you then need to make your application to each charity.
Making your application relevant will play a part in the success or failure of your application. Remember the awarding body will receive many applications and they will be looking for the applicants that best fit their eligibility criteria, so the first stage in making applications for grants and scholarships is to find the schemes to which you are best suited.
Just like you would apply for jobs, you need to tailor you application to meet the criteria the charity sets out. In most cases, a generic application will not work for you. You will need to clearly show how you meet those criteria and exactly how and why you are eligible and would benefit from their grant. It may feel a bit like you are stating the obvious in some cases, but by doing so you will be making the job easier for the person sifting through the applications and not leaving it up to them to draw conclusions.
If you are asked for a reference from a teacher or someone else who knows you, make sure each reference is also relevant to the specific application.
Also take the time to check your application form. Mistake are easily made, even simple things like using a capital I when referring to yourself, can make a big difference in the impression you give the committee.
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It might take a bit of hard work to find the right grants for you and to tailor each application to the specific grant, but the effort you put in could mean you are able to get extra funding for your degree that does not need to be paid back.
Here are some examples of some of the educational trusts which give student grants. As you will see they tend to be focused on small groups of individuals, which meet their charitable objectives, so you will need to search out your own relevant charities and trusts.
The Robert Nicol Educational Trust
The Robert Nicol Trust is an educational charity which makes small financial awards to support students from or based in the Aberdeen region who are undertaking courses of one kind or another at the post-school level.
St Nicholas Educational Trust
The Trust provides grants to students under the age of 25 who are living in the City of Newcastle and are in financial need.
All Saints Educational Trust
Students over the age of 18 are given practical support in the encouragement of teacher education and in the pursuit of innovative professional development - particularly in the disciplines of Religious Education, Home Economics, food and nutrition education, and public health promotion - from the standpoint of Christian insights and life values.
Caledonian Schools Trust
Applicants must be a child of a Scottish Parents who have served in the Armed Forces; individuals whose financial circumstances might otherwise prevent them from continuing their education.
Hampton Lucy Educational Trust
Educational grants made to young people under 25 years of age, who live in the Parishes of Hampton Lucy, Charlecote, Wasperton and Alveston
The Reid Trust
Applicants should be women who have been educated in Britain at secondary or tertiary level, or both, and who wish to pursue further training, education or research in the United Kingdom at any appropriate educational establishment. Applicants do not need to have been born in Britain.
The Eagle House Trust
Open to students who have been looked after in Somerset and historic Avon (eg: Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire) in foster/residential care or have received considerable support from Children’s Social Care from these listed authorities.