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Student Finance and how to afford it!

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

The government is changing University Student Fees and Finances, as of September 2023.

Currently, if students are finishing their degrees or starting their degree in September 2022 you would need to earn £27,295 or over, when you get a job, before you would start repaying your student loan (maintenance and tuition fees) back at 9% on anything you earn over this amount. You also only have 30 years to repay this loan. So, if you never earn over £27,295 over a 30 year period from completing your degree, then you will not need to repay this back at all. It’s only if you earn more than this amount.

The changes to the system being made as of 2023 are as follows:

The earning threshold is changing from £27,295 to £25,000. Plus the repayment of the finance will change to 40 years, instead of 30 years previously.

The reality of these changes are, that if a student starts university this year (2022) and then graduates and starts earning £27,000 they will not need to pay anything back towards their student loans. But if a student starts university next year in 2023, and starts earning £27,000 when they complete their degree they will need to repay £180 per year at 9%, as the threshold will have changed to £25,000.

However, you should not be put off going to university, there are still a lot of benefits from having a student loan as the system will still be student friendly! Nor should this stop you if you are planning a gap year. Do it! However, having this latest information on student finance is always useful when you have to make informed decisions about your money.

If anyone is confused or struggling to get their heads around the new changes you can watch Martin Lewis’ Money Show Live on ITV, where he explains the changes that will take place next year:

Check out this short video for more information about student finances.

Student Bursaries, Grants and Scholarships-and the secrets and low-down behind them!

Now that those of you wanting to go to university this year, will have received your offers, NOW is the time to be thinking about applying for a Scholarship, Grant or bursary.

Scholarships, bursaries, and grants – what’s the difference?

While these terms can be thrown around interchangeably, below is a rough idea of what they usually refer to:


  • Some living costs (one-off, annual or termly payment), tuition fees (automatic reduction or cover)

  • Achievement or excellence in academics, sports or music.

  • Universities/colleges (often donated by alumni), employers or organisations, to support young talent in their area.


  • Some living costs (one-off payment)

  • Low household income, background or personal circumstances, e.g. disabled students, students from particular regions or countries.

  • Universities/colleges (often donated by alumni), employers or organisations, to support young talent in their area.


  • Some living costs, specific purposes, e.g. studying abroad (one-off payment)

  • Low household income, background or personal circumstances, e.g. disabled students, students from particular regions or countries.

  • Charities or trusts that represent underrepresented groups.

Surprisingly though, less than a third of 2019/20 freshers applied for a scholarship or bursary. As you’ll learn, extra funding is awarded for all sorts of reasons – not just for straight A students. And of those that applied to a scholarship or bursary, over three quarters were successful! With over £150m in scholarships available to students in the UK each year (source: The Scholarship Hub), could you be leaving money on the table?

Every year there are millions of pounds that go unclaimed by students and, seriously, there is one for everyone, you just need to know where to look! Bursaries are amounts of money that are given to students that have a niche skill in something, or are wanting to go and study a specific subject at university, and are unlike students loans, as you don’t need to pay them back! So what are you waiting for? Start looking for your free money here….

Who offers student bursaries?

Universities: most universities will offer bursaries to support particular groups of students such as Care Leavers or students from low income households. Once you know which university you will be attending check out what bursaries they offer and see if you are eligible for any of them.

Charities and trusts : there are over 3,000 charities and trusts in the UK which offer educational grants and bursaries. These are often smaller charities that have been set up with the specific purpose of supporting students from a particular background or place in the country.

Professional associations: bursaries are often awarded to encourage under-represented groups in to a particular profession or industry sector. These student bursaries will be accompanied by career mentoring and work placements too. If you know where your vocation lies, check out the professional bodies that represent that industry to see if there are any scholarships or bursaries on offer. Examples of these types of bursaries include the bursaries offered by the NHS for nursing and social work or the Teaching bursaries offered by the government to encourage more teachers in to training.

Employers: Companies, professional bodies, and organisations linked to particular industries often run scholarship or bursary schemes for aspiring talent, as well as to attract groups who are traditionally underrepresented in their field, e.g. women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

How to find suitable funding for you

Unfortunately, because there are so many small charities, it is no easy task to find suitable opportunities. Also bearing in mind that many of them are quite niche in who they offer funds to, you will need to do some research to find suitable opportunities. Try and think around all the reasons you could be eligible for funding which could include:

· Your religion

· Where you went to school or live

· What your parents do

· Your career aspirations

· Your family circumstances

· Your involvement in the community

There is a book, which can be found in most larger libraries called The Guide to Educational Grants listing exactly that – charities and trusts offering educational grants. However, if the old fashioned approach doesn’t appeal to you, you can also access the same information online via The Scholarship Hub on

Tips on making your application

The important thing to bear in mind when making your application is why the organisaton you are applying to is awarding these bursaries. Each bursary fund has its own objectives and purposes, so if you can show how you meet their criteria, this will stand you in good stead. The earlier you apply for a bursary or grant, the more likely you are to be awarded one of them. Do your research, and match your application to their requirements. Secondly remember that they will receive many applications. Try to make sure yours stands out for the right reasons and not because you have made spelling mistakes, not used the correct punctuation or not answered the questions properly, is best advice!

Some examples of bursaries for students

Royal Television Society bursaries

The Royal Television Society makes awards to students from less-affluent backgrounds who demonstrate talent, potential and determination. You must be studying TV Production and Journalism or related subjects, or degrees such as Physics, Maths and Computer Science. They are now taking applications until 15 July 2022. Please follow the link below for more information and how to apply:

NHS Bursary

For UK-resident students studying at English universities, NHS funding is provided by the Learning Support Fund (LSF). Students from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland taking an eligible pre-registration healthcare course may qualify for extra grants, including a £5,000 annual training grant.

The Complete University Guide provides a succinct overview to the current financial support if you are considering a career in nursing, or as an allied health professional, doctor or dentist in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Applying for an NHS bursary from England

Apply only for the years you're eligible to receive an NHS bursary. Applications open from March and close two months before courses begin. Go to the NHS Business Services Authority website, where you create an account on the Bursary Online Support System (BOSS). You'll need photographic ID. After submitting your application, an email will inform you if other supporting evidence is needed. Please follow the link below for more information and how to apply for an NHS Bursary and NHS Learning Fund Grant:

Cumbrian Medical Services Bursary

Open to students from Cumbria who have been accepted to study medicine at university. You must have a household income of less than £50,000. The bursaries will also be merit based and evaluated by personal statement and recommendation from your school.

Please follow the link below for more information and how to apply:

Application form:

Stand Alone Bursary

Available to estranged students who are studying without the support and approval of a family network and who have no contact with their family. Need to reapply each year for funding.

Teaching bursaries

Offered to graduates who undertake teacher training in specific subjects, including Chemistry, Computing, Maths, Physics, Classics, Languages and biology. There are also some offered to final year undergraduates studying for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Social Work Bursaries

There are a limited number of income-assessed bursaries that are supplied by the NHS Business Services Authority, to cover study and living costs from the first year of study onwards. Please follow the link below for more information and how to apply:

Weird and wonderful funding available for university students!

Even if you don't think you'll qualify for anything, it's worth looking – there are some seriously unusual bursaries, grants and scholarships out there, and you could easily be eligible for! Here are just a few!

1. A grant for being Vegetarian

In 'Lisa the Vegetarian', the Simpson family famously mocked Lisa's decision to stop eating meat by singing "you don't win friends with salad". What they didn't realise, however, was that in doing so, Lisa became eligible for a grant of up to £500 from The Vegetarian Charity.

The Vegetarian Charity's grant is on offer to all vegans and vegetarians aged 25 and under and is intended to go towards educational courses and the relief of poverty. In other words, if you're a student (or looking to become one) and need some extra funding, this vegetarian grant applies to you.

However, don't go thinking that you can just give up meat to get the money. This grant is for people who are already vegetarian or vegan, and you'll need to have two references who can testify that you actually do have a meat-free diet.

2. A scholarship for being a talented eSports player

Your parents might have told you that sitting in your room playing computer games is a waste of time, but if you're good – and we mean seriously good – then you could get a scholarship worth thousands of pounds.

The University of Roehampton's eSports scholarship offers £1,500/year to talented eSports players who can "demonstrate talent in the field". Up to 20 students can receive the scholarship each year, but you'll need to keep your grades up if you want to receive the funding year after year.

3. A bursary for having the surname 'Graham'!

Sometimes you have to work hard to be eligible for a student bursary – other times you're lucky enough to just get given it. In the case of the Graham Trust Bursary Scheme, the latter definitely applies. And as far as weird bursaries go, this is a great one!

The Graham Trust was established all the way back in 1759 with the aim of helping young boys in the Glasgow area with the surname Graham to attend school and learn trades that would enable them to become "useful members of society". Nowadays the eligibility criteria have changed a little bit – most notably, funding is now available for males and females.

In fact, other than having the surname Graham (or having a parent with that surname), the only other requirements are that you attend a higher or further education institution in the Glasgow area and that you can make a case for financial support. Do that, and up to £500 is yours to keep!

4. A bursary for having parents in the right line of work!

It's no secret that having parents with the 'right' jobs can mean you're better off at university than some other students. However, this doesn't just apply to students whose parents are doctors, lawyers and successful entrepreneurs.

The Leverhulme Charity offers a bursary of up to £3,000 for students who are either the spouse or child of a commercial traveller, pharmacist or grocer, and who are in "financial need". The charity is a bit vague on the definition of "financial need", so you'll need to provide some information on your financial situation and how the bursary would help you at university. They also have a few stipulations about what constitutes a commercial traveller, pharmacist or grocer – head over to their website for full details.

5. A scholarship for being able to sing

Even if you're not destined for fame and fortune on the levels of Beyoncé, having the voice of an angel could still see you earning a handsome sum of money.

If you study (or plan to study) at the University of Exeter and reckon your vocal cords are up to the job, you might want to consider joining the Exeter Cathedral Choir. There are multiple scholarship positions available, and if you're successful in applying, you'll receive around £3,500 in funding every year. But don't try to sign up, take your money and run. The scholarship is paid in monthly instalments, and they're pretty hot on attendance, meaning this opportunity is probably best suited to students with a genuine passion for choral singing!

6. A scholarship for being a big American football fan

American football is getting more and more popular in the UK, and one of the biggest drivers of this trend has been the Jacksonville Jaguars. Committed to playing in London at least once a year, the Jags have given British fans the opportunity to watch their favourite stateside sport in person – and now they've brought the famous 'football scholarship' across the pond, too, in the form of the Gridiron Grant.

If you've been involved in American football in your community for an extended period of time, or have participated in the JagTag programme, this initiative could pay your tuition fees in full. The scholarship is paid to two UK students every year (one male and one female) and applications typically close in the spring. Head over to the Jaguars' website for more details on the funding.

7. A bursary if your parents have served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines

It's not unheard of for military personnel (or those who have previously served in the armed forces) to receive extra funding at university.

But the Greenwich Hospital Bursary goes one step further, providing funding for former members of the Royal Navy/Marines, as well as support for the children of current and former personnel. As the child of a current or former marine or naval officer, you could be awarded up to £3,000/year for a maximum of three years. Note, however, that it's only on offer to students in need of financial assistance, and only students at the Universities of Greenwich, Portsmouth and Newcastle are eligible.

8. A scholarship for studying in Welsh

If you've been to Wales, know somebody from Wales, or know basically anything about the country, you'll be aware that they're pretty keen to keep the Welsh language going. And for what it's worth, it seems to be working.

As part of these efforts, a number of colleges and universities offer scholarships to students who study their degree in Welsh (note: that's not a degree in the subject 'Welsh' – just any degree that's taught and completed using the Welsh language).

One of the most generous Welsh language scholarships, is the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol scholarship at Cardiff University. There are 150 on offer, and it's worth up to £3,000 over three years – not bad if you're fluent enough in Welsh to use it every day.

9. A scholarship for having gone to school in Pembrokeshire

As another Wales-based scholarship, if you happened to go to secondary school in Pembrokeshire, you're in luck.

The Port of Milford Haven Scholarship Programme offers £1,500 to four undergraduate students, just for having "completed the majority of their secondary education in Pembrokeshire". It really is as simple as that. You can be a student at any British university, and if you're selected as one of the four lucky recipients, you'll also get a summer placement at the Port of Milford Haven. This gives you the opportunity to experience all aspects of the port, including the marine, engineering and business units.

Top Tip: Please remember though, that it's important to be proactive with any type of extra funding. Some organisations have very early cut-off points for submitting applications, while others will grant funding on a first-come, first-served basis. Bottom line? If you want to find extra funding, search creatively….and finally, don't give up! Finding something you're eligible for can take serious dedication. If you're drawing a blank, don't forget there are other ways to turn a buck. Check them out here:

This blog was researched and written by Rebecca Pointer, Careers Consultant.

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