Student Finance

University grants for students in the UK

Ben Maples  · May 23rd 2024  · 2 min

You may find that student finance isn’t enough to cover the costs of your uni experience. Securing yourself a grant can help with this! But who can get one?

Students throwing graduation hats in the air

Student finance is one of the big items you'll be ticking off your uni to-do list. When you know how much student finance you're eligible for, you can quickly see how your expenses for uni stack up. If you're worried about the cost of uni, grants can give you some extra money to help.

What is a grant?

Grants are there for students living under certain circumstances who need extra financial support to get them through university. While you will need to pay back your student loan, you don't need to pay back your grant! Unlike bursaries that are given by the university, charities and trusts award grants to underrepresented groups.

Your grant money can go towards living costs or may be awarded for certain circumstances such as studying abroad. Each grant will have unique terms, so take some time to understand the different options before applying.

How to apply for a grant

Every grant provider will have a different process and set of requirements. With no standard process, it can be hard to know the best way to tackle your applications. Here are some things we recommend checking before you start applying.

Your eligibility

Each grant will have a different set of criteria for applications. It may be you need to study a certain subject or meet specific household income requirements.

The application process

As grants aren't run through a university or college, the process can vary. It might be you need to fill out a form with some financial evidence, or you may need to write a short essay or attend an interview.

What the grant is and how it can be used

Grants vary in the amount they offer you as well as what they cover. Some grants may only be used for certain things, such as travel or equipment support. It may be that the grant is only available if you don't have other financial support such as bursaries, scholarships or benefits.


Some grants have strict deadlines, while others are open whenever you want to apply, and the deadlines vary across the different grant providers. Take some time to note the dates and, once you understand the application process, you'll be able to see if you have enough time to create a quality application!

Impact on your future

It may require you to commit to a certain career or subject at university, or that you need to take on certain volunteer work or a placement year. Understand how it could impact decisions you make further down the line.

We suggest creating a list of the grants you're eligible for, take note of the key deadlines and what you need to complete. This should help you to tackle each application!

University student grants

How to find university grants

There are an endless amount of options that could take a while to sort through and find the ones that you're eligible for. Turn2us has a great tool to search for grants that match your needs and show you those suited to you.

Types of grants

When you are looking for grants, there are some more well-known, widely available options that you can take a look at. Here, we have some of the most common:

Maintenance Grant

Students from Northern Ireland and Wales can apply for a Maintenance Grant which helps with uni living costs. It's not to be confused with the Maintenance Loan which you'll pay back. However, if you do receive the Maintenance Grant, you will receive less Maintenance Loan. The amount your Maintenance Grant will give you will depend on your household income and whereabouts you're living in the UK.

Special Support Grant (SSG)

Known as an SSG, a Special Support Grant is available for all those in the UK. If you're on housing or income support, have a disability or are a single parent, the SSG is available to you. Unlike the Maintenance Grant, this will not have an impact on the Maintenance Loan amount you receive. It also won't affect any benefits you claim. The amount you receive for the SSG matches the amount you would receive for a Maintenance Grant.

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

  • You're a single parent
  • Your partner or spouse is at university
  • You're claiming or can claim income support or housing benefit
  • You have a disability

Travel grants

Studying abroad can rack up a hefty price, so a travel grant can help cover some costs and make sure you can enjoy the experience! A travel grant isn't just for travelling abroad, either. If your course includes a clinical placement, you'll likely need to travel to work quite a lot and so there are travel grants for this too.

To be eligible, you'll need to be:

  • A UK resident or meet UK residency rules
  • Enrolled in a full-time uni course
  • Required to travel abroad as part of your course (which may be different if you're part of the Turing Scheme)
  • Travelling to a placement that isn't covered by an NHS bursary

Disability students' allowance (DSA)

DSA is one of the many disability grants available today. This grant covers everything from physical disabilities or injuries to mental health conditions and also issues such as dyspraxia.

With the DSA, if you're already claiming other types of grants or bursaries, you may not be eligible for this one as well. Depending on the level of support and specialist equipment you'll need to adapt to life at university with a disability as well as where you're from, the DSA can cover between £1,725 to £33,146.

Other types of funding for students with disabilities

To help students with disabilities adjust to life at uni, many universities also offer bursaries. When applying to your university, check their website or ask the campus support on an open day - they'll be more than happy to help!

For more grants, it's worth having a look at relevant charities to see what support they can provide for your particular condition. They can give you more advice on where best to go to receive financial support too.

Dependents and childcare grants

First, you'll need to be eligible for Student Finance. If you're financially responsible for anyone, or if your household income is below a certain threshold, you qualify for a dependants' grant.

What this grant covers depends on your house circumstances. It can cover childcare, Parent's Learning Allowance (known as the lone parent's grant in Scotland) and adult dependants' grant. Let's break this down:

  • Childcare: If you have a child, you can expect to get £145 a week. This will vary if you have more children or if you're living in Scotland.
  • Parent's Learning Allowance: Full-time students with children are likely eligible for this. You can receive between £1305 and £1905 per year in funding. You may not get this if you already receive free childcare or state benefits that pay for childcare.
  • Adults dependants' grant: If you have an adult dependant, you could get between £2640 and £3354 a year in student funding. Receiving this may affect any income-related benefits or credits you have.

Course specific grants

Many charities and trusts will offer support if you're taking specific courses at specific universities. They will also account for the level you are studying, such as undergraduate, as well as where it is you currently live.

If you're still looking for financial support, have a look at bursaries and scholarships, or speak to your university directly to understand the best options for you.

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