If you’re looking to get back in the uni game as a mature student but can’t make heads or tails of the student grants, look no further. This article will talk you through the different types of grants available, as well as how to apply.
First of all…what is the difference between a scholarship, a bursary and a grant?
Whilst the terms scholarship, bursary and grant are often used interchangeably, they do refer to slightly different variations of financial aid. Below are definitions and examples provided by UCAS to give you a rough idea of the differences:
Designed to help with some living costs (one-off, annual or termly payment), and tuition fees (automatic reduction or cover).
Based on: Achievement or merit (typically in sports, music, or academics).
Designed to help with some living costs (usually as a one-off payment).
Based on: Factors such as low household income, background or personal circumstances, e.g. disabled students, students from particular regions or countries.
Designed to help with some living costs, and specific purposes, e.g. studying abroad (one-off payment).
Based on: Low household income, background or personal circumstances, e.g. disabled students, students from particular regions or countries.
Depending on your academic background, you may be eligible to apply for some forms of financial aid and not others. Remember, a mature student is considered as anyone applying over the age of 25 or anyone who has been financially independent of their parents for 3 years or more, so make sure you do your homework (if you’ll pardon the pun) when researching what financial aid you can apply for.
If you need help getting started, below is a list of different mature student grants, bursaries, and scholarships available.
Finding a course-specific grant that you are eligible for can take some digging! So we’ve listed a few examples below to start your search, courtesy of gov.uk.
City & Guilds offer bursaries to people who study for a City & Guilds qualification.
The General Federation of Trade Unions Educational Trust has grants for students of economic theory and history, industrial law and industrial relations.
If you’re unsure whether your university offers mature student grants for the course you want to do, just ask! Usually, universities have a dedicated administration team designed to offer support specifically to mature students.
University of London: Mature Students Scholarship
Some universities even offer specific scholarships for mature students, like this one. At Goldsmith’s College, the University of London, mature students receiving this scholarship can get to £3000 each year of study.
To apply: simply head to the website and fill out an application form! You’ll want to make sure you prep for this one, as even though the deadline for this year has just passed, there are only 10 scholarships up for grabs!
The University of Edinburgh: Women Careers Foundation
To have the possibility of snagging this scholarship, applicants should be over 21 years old (although younger applicants are considered if taking courses in music or dance) and must be a citizen of the United Kingdom. Grants of around £250 are goes to the chosen applicant. Go get ‘em, girls.
To apply: Write to the Women Careers Foundation for details and an application form (all info available here).
Royal Holloway: Access Entry Mature Students Bursary
If you secure this bursary, you will receive £1,000 per year for each year of full-time undergraduate study. You can apply if you are over the age of 21 at the commencement of your studies, and also have a household income of £25,000 or less.
To apply: Head to their website.
Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education
These Yorkshire lasses are paving the way for women in higher education. The grant supports women from Yorkshire and Leeds, who are not eligible for student finance support and also cannot afford to pay university fees. The grant donation is usually somewhere between £200-£400, which goes directly to universities to cover part of course fees. You must have a confirmed place at a British university and also be 21 or over to apply.
To apply: Head to their website and fill in an application here.
NHS Learning Support Fund
Open for both mature and younger students, the NHS Learning Support Fund is an amazingly generous grant open to many NHS courses, such as:
- dental therapy or dental hygiene (level 5 and 6 courses)
- nursing (adult, child, mental health, learning disability, joint nursing and social work)
- occupational therapy
- operating department practitioner (level 5 and 6 courses)
- orthotics and prosthetics
- paramedics (DipHE and FD courses are not eligible for NHS LSF)
- podiatry or chiropody
- radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)
- speech and language therapy
If you are eligible, you could get a Training Grant of £5,000 per academic year, Parental Support of £2,000 (if you have at least one dependent child under 15 years, or under 17 years if registered with special educational needs), money back for excess travel and temporary accommodation costs (Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses) while you’re on your practice placement, as well as Exceptional Support Fund (for students facing financial hardship).
To apply: Create an NHS LSF account here to view additional guidance and to apply.
Parents’ Learning Allowance
You may be eligible for help with your learning costs if you’re a full-time student with children with a Parents’ Learning Allowance. Your household income dictates how much you can get. This is a great one for any parents out there! You don’t pay the grant back, and it is given as in addition to other student finance loans. Also, it won’t affect your benefits or tax credit.
To apply: You can apply for Parent’s Learning Allowance when you apply for Student Finance.
The Childcare Grant is designed to help with childcare costs if you’re a parent in full-time education. You may be eligible if you have children under 15, or, if you have children with disabilities under the age of 17. Similarly, to the Parents’ Learning Allowance, you don’t pay this grant back. It is an addition to your Student Finance.
To apply: You can apply as part of your Student Finance Application. Following this you send evidence and if your application is successful you will make an online account with Childcare Grant Payment Service (CCGPS).
Adult Dependants’ Grant
This mature student grant is for adults in full-time education who another adult depends on for support. With this grant, you could earn up to £3263 for the academic year 2022-2023 (not bad ay?). Also, head’s up-you don’t pay this grant back.
Please be aware though that you cannot apply for this mature student grant if you are applying for a Postgraduate Loan.
To apply: Fill in the Adult Dependants’ Grant section on your Student Finance form.
Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs)
Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is support to cover any study-related financial costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability. DSA can be given on its own or in addition to any student finance you are entitled to. It’s important to note that the type of support and how much you are entitled to is dependent on your individual needs, not your household income. Also, you don’t have to pay any of your DSA back.
To apply: You fill in an application on Student Finance.
Hopefully, this list of mature student grants is enough to get you started and give you confidence going forward with your applications. If you find any gems (and are kind enough to share them) we’d love to see them in the comments, so be sure to give them a mention!
If you want to read more on the pleasures and perils of being a mature student, check out our article ‘The advantages and disadvantages of being a mature student’.