Would you turn down £1,000 free money if someone offered it to you? Probably not, and yet that is exactly what many students are doing by not checking out if they are eligible for any scholarships, grants or bursaries to help with their university costs.
The only real difference between a scholarship, grant or bursary is really who gives it to you. Scholarships are usually given by universities, companies or industry associations while grants and bursaries are also given by universities and more often by charities. You will often find the terms being used interchangeably, but the basic premise is the same - this is money that you do not have to pay back.
So here are ten tips to help you ensure that you don’t miss out on what could be yours.
- Do not assume you won’t be eligible: It is a myth that scholarships are only given to the academically gifted or those from a low household income. There are lots of other reasons why you might be given a scholarship.
- Widen the net: your chosen university should always be the first place to look, but look beyond that. The universities are not the only organisations offering scholarships but they will only have information on what they offer on their websites.
- What have you done to deserve this?: make a list of all the things you’ve done or would like to do in the future, which might make you eligible for a scholarship. This could include, sporting or musical achievements, work in the community, particular family circumstances or background. Some scholarships are even based on where you come from, your hobbies or your career aspirations and yes, there really are scholarships for the first in their family to go to university.
- Think outside the box: there are even some pretty weird scholarships out there, given for reasons like your surname, what you eat, what your parents do for a living or if you’re a girl! Some scholarships are now being offered to all students, regardless of which university you go to or what subject you are studying and all you have to do apply is write an essay – which you should be quite good at by now!
- Seek and ye shall find: well not strictly true, there probably isn’t a scholarship for everyone yet, but if you don’t look, you definitely won’t find anything. Once you’ve got your list, do your research and you might be surprised what you do come across.
- Check the deadlines: this might sound obvious but do not miss out on opportunities because you missed the deadline. Some university scholarships consider you automatically by way of your UCAS application, but this is not always the case so make sure you know which ones you have to actively apply for and when.
- Apply, apply, apply: the more you apply for, the better your chances of getting some money. You would be surprised that some of this free money goes unallocated each year because there weren’t enough applicants and your odds of winning are often surprisingly good.
- Eats Shoots and Leaves: And anyone who has read this book, you will know how important grammar can be. Don’t use text speak in your application, use capital “I”s when talking about yourself and check your punctuation. Oh and don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!! Your application could be rejected if it appears you have not taken time and consideration over it.
- Put the date in your diary: Scholarships, grants and bursaries are not just offered to freshers, so make this a process you go through each year and you could be significantly reducing your overall student debt. Although this might all seem like it could take up a lot of time, think of it as a way of earning money. The amounts given can range from £250 up to your full tuition fees paid plus maintenance costs.
- Don't stop looking: scholarships are not only for Freshers. Don't just look for additional funding in your first year and then stop. Keep looking as new scholarships are offered all the time.