Understanding how to apply for a scholarship can significantly improve your chances of success. Not all scholarships, grants and bursaries require you to actively apply for them. At some universities you will automatically be considered for those you are eligible for, when you apply to the Universities concerned, but it is not always the case and often you will need to apply, so make sure you check once you know where you will be studying.
There are also many grants, bursaries and scholarships you can apply for which are offered by other organisations and you will definitely not be automatically entered for these as they won’t know about you if you don’t apply!
Which Scholarships can you apply for?
This is where your research comes in to play and will improve your chances of success. If you just think about the course you are studying and the university you are studying at, you will inevitably miss out on scholarships you could apply for. Research takes time and effort and it is important to understand the different types of funding opportunities that are available so you can work out if you could be eligible for any of them.
You will find the major educational trusts on our database, but there are also a whole host of others that make grants for specific purposes. Some examples are
- where you live
- 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
Make a list of your strengths, abilities or personal circumstances which you feel may make you eligible for a grant or scholarship and then search for schemes which specifically fund students with your profile.
Once you are clear about what types of scholarships, grants and bursaries you are looking for, you can start your search on our scholarship database. The opportunities listed here cover all universities and companies which are currently offering funding options to UK undergraduates. You can search based on your university choices, the subjects you wish to study, or on the criteria for selection. So if you are good at sports, why not look for all the sporting scholarships and one may be so good, it will make you want to apply to that particular university.
We also cover some educational trusts with more generic eligibility criteria, but there are thousands of grant making trusts in the UK, with different selection criteria and you might be eligible for some of them. If you would like to access these trusts, find out how you can do this, with our Premium Membership Benefits. Alternatively you can find details of all these in The Educational Grants Directory, which is usually available in larger reference libraries.
Understanding why organisations are offering funding, plays an important part in getting the application right. Companies, charities, trusts and professional associations all have different objectives. They might be charitable, or they might be doing it to recruit graduates interested in a particular career path. Charities might have very specific objectives related to their charitable purpose, such as supporting students from a particular area or background.
Making your application relevant will play a part in the success or failure of your application.
When you apply for a university scholarship, grant or bursary, remember the awarding body could 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 scholarships is to find the schemes to which you are best suited.
Scholarship application help
In most cases, a generic application will not work for you. In the same way as you would if you apply for a job, you will need to tailor your letter or application to meet the specific eligibility criteria stated and clearly show how you meet those criteria. Try not to give a sob story, but show how you are determined to overcome any personal difficulties and having the additional money will help you achieve your goals.
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 scholarships you can apply for.
To get a full copy of our “Step by step guide to finding scholarships” plus additional tools and resources, find out more about our Membership Benefits.