Student Finance


Ben Maples  · Jun 7th 2023

Student finance is already a frustrating aspect of the university experience, but sometimes the blow of having to sort out student finance can be softened by the introduction of student grants.

Students throwing graduation hats in the air

You will generally tend to find that most universities offer them to help students from low-income families, however, there are a number of extra-curricular activities that help aid students that are looking to take on extra work or reward students for good work.

Student grants

What are grants?

A grant is a non-repayable fund. It is generally given via government departments, third parties or universities.

Obviously, some grants are made available for some research projects, or business grants, however, when it comes to university grants, they are offered at the discretion of the provider and they have the ability to set their own criteria.

Grants are usually used to pay for living costs and university materials as well.

A Dependants’ grant, is a grant that is set up for those that have financial responsibility for other people.

What are the differences between a grant, a scholarship and a bursary?

There are a few key differences between the three.

Simply put, scholarships essentially act as money awarded to an individual for their academic performance (anything from high grades or exceptional performances in certain areas such as sports); grants are money that is awarded to you based on high grades and any financial hardships that you or your family may be facing; bursaries are only ever awarded to those based on their financial needs and does not take into account academic achievements.

The differences can be difficult to understand, especially in the differences between scholarships and student grants, if you are unsure what category you do or do not fall into, then speak to your university and they will be sure to point you in the right direction.

University student grants

How to get grants

There are a number of useful resources out there for students that are looking for grants in some way, such as Turn2Us which is a great way to search for grants.

The Turn2Us grants are usually done by proximity and can be accessed through their website. It’s a good way to see what charitable organisations are offering bursaries and will also be able to see if you are able to actually qualify for bursaries or grants.

Do I have to pay a grant back?

Not ordinarily, no. That’s not to say that people haven’t had to pay them back at some point in their lives (same with small business grants or new business grants), but these are rarely paid back, purely because the idea of a grant, is that it is awarded to you based on both financial hardship (which would often necessitate the idea of paying it back) and your overall academic performance.

A DSA is a disability students’ allowance and is just one of the many disability grants available today.

What is an SSG?

An SSG is a special support grant. A special support grant is available for people for all around the country and it is mainly aimed at those on income support or if you’re on housing support, it can also be used for people if you are a single parent or if you have a disability – attending university with a learning difficulty. As a result of this, there is a possibility that you can swap your maintenance grant for a special support grant.

To be eligible for an SSG, you need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are a single parent.
  • Your partner or spouse is at university.
  • You are claiming or able to claim income support or a housing benefit of any kind.
  • You have a disability.

Uni student grants

What is a travel grant?

A travel grant is exactly what it says on the side of the tin. A university student travel grant is designed to help you to travel. It is aimed to help students that have placements that are part of their university course and travel is too much, so a travel grant will be opened for you, so don’t let a course having a placement put you off with the extra travelling costs. Also, if your course requires time spent studying abroad, then you will be granted a travel grant to help out. Although to be eligible for a travel grant, you will need to meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You are a UK resident, or meet the UK’s residency rules.
  • You are in a full-time university course.
  • You are required to travel abroad to study as part of your course (This can differ if you are using the Turing Scheme).
  • You have to travel to a placement, you do not qualify if you are already the recipient of an NHS Bursary.
An SSG is a special support grant.

What is a DSA?

A DSA is a disability students’ allowance and is just one of the many disability grants available today.

DSA covers everything from physical disabilities or injuries all the way through to mental health conditions and also to issues such as dyspraxia.

You may not be eligible if you are already claiming any other type of grant or bursary, so be sure to check this out before you apply. However, you have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for DSA or other grants for disabled students, such as:

  • You’re a UK student and you’re eligible for Student Finance.
  • You have a long-term condition that requires funding.

A DSA is not means-tested, which means that it is suited to your situation, which means you won’t have to pay it back. Although, you may not be eligible for a DSA if you are already claiming for your disability.

Your DSA will be going to the essentials for your study, such as any specialist equipment you may be needing and to help you when at university. The maximum that you can get is:

  • General Allowance: £1,700 per year
  • Non-Medical Helper: £21,000 per year
  • Specialist Equipment: £5,200

However, travel expenses are not covered by receiving DSA.

Student university grants

What is a dependants’ grant?

A Dependants’ grant, is a grant that is set up for those that have financial responsibility for other people. The money available can fluctuate depending on the area of the country that you happen to be studying in. If you are eligible for Student Finance, if you’re financially responsible for anyone or if your household income is below a certain threshold, then you can qualify for a dependants’ grant.

A dependants’ grant can all depend on the current household circumstances. A grant will mainly cover up to three different elements, those are Childcare, Parent’s Learning Allowance (this is known as a lone parent’s grant in Scotland, although there are other kinds of parental grants available in Scotland) and adults dependants’ grant. Typically, these will be handled as such:

  • Childcare: If you have one child, you will be expecting money to be around the £145-a-week mark, although this can change if you have more children. In Scotland, the cost is slightly more. Student finance in Scotland works differently from England and the rest of the UK, anyway.
  • Parent’s learning allowance: You can expect around £1,500 per year for this.
  • Adults dependants’ grant: If you are responsible for the full-time care of another adult, you are entitled to around £2,700 per year.
A grant is a non-repayable fund. It is generally given via government departments, third parties or universities.

What is a teaching grant?

If you’re studying to become a teacher or you are doing a teacher training degree, you still can access the same student finance initiatives as everyone else. With these sorts of things you’re better off trying to find a scholarship deal of some sort before actually signing up, this is the best way for you to have money for your course. A university teaching grant, will help you out a lot!

Macmillan grants

The Macmillan grant is not necessarily a grant that is available for students per se, but it is a grant that can help a number of people.

The Macmillan grants are small, usually one-off, payments that are made to people that need extra help after being diagnosed with cancer.

If there are any university students with cancer, then the Macmillan grants are a good thing for you to take advantage of, but there may be separate grants available for students provided by the university.

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