Alternative sources of student finance in the UK

You would have seen in the last Friday rambling that I am generally annoyed at the Student Loans Company for charging me 6% interest.

Well, this post is a slightly less rambling and more a concise, hopefully helpful, piece to tell you of the other hidden sources of student finance.

“Hidden?” I hear you ask.

Well, yes I would state that they are hidden.

“Well M how are they hidden?”

Simply because Sixth Form Colleges and Universities have no legal obligation, or otherwise, to promote the sources of funding that they are given which are available to students. So whilst they are there, you, the student, have to proactively go looking for them. To me this goes against the whole idea of the inclusivity agenda that universities are meant to be promoting. It is those most in need of these additional sources of finance who are unlikely to ever know about them (without being told about it). As such, how would you even know to look if you didn’t know it existed in the first place? Anyway, I digress.

So, what types of additional student finance is available? Well I’m going to split this out into two categories, those at Sixth Form Colleges (or equivalent) and those at University.

Most forms of additional student finance come in the form of a bursary, meaning you won’t have to pay it back. However, it’ll most likely be means-tested and this is usually done by parental income. It is indeed intended for those attending an educational establishment and from families who don’t have ‘big money’ (for use of a better term).

Sixth Form Students

In the mid to late 2000’s there used to be a scheme called “Educational Maintenance Allowance”, also known as “EMA”. It was brilliant and I myself was a recipient of it. Now, EMA doesn’t exist in the format it used to, in that it was administered by Central Government, more specifically, the Department of Education.

Instead, now it is a devolved matter to the individual Sixth Form Colleges.

Given that this is now down to the individual Sixth Form College the schemes have a variety of different names, depending on the college, but typically are called “Student Financial Support”, Student Financial Assistance” etc.

I have chosen one example, Farnborough College, as an example and the links can be found here:

https://farnborough.ac.uk/supportingyou-financialassistance
https://farnborough.ac.uk//App_Files/Upload/Financial%20Assistance%20Page/Bursary%20Scheme%20201819%20(Sep%202018).pdf
https://farnborough.ac.uk/supportingyou-studysupport

All you need to is type in the name of your local Sixth Form College and something along the lines of “Financial Support” and the page you’re looking for will be available to you.

On top of the above your Local Authority has a legal obligation to facilities (pay basically) for your transport from your home to your place of learning (School or College).

The act that legally obliges your Local Authority to do this is The Education Act 1996.

Now this is an annoyingly legalistic and complicated act to read however there is an incredibly useful guidance note, in this link, which explains what your Local Authority has to do.

In short, if you need a train to get to your college then your Local Authority has to pay for this. This is true of a bus and other forms of public transport.

My advice is to make use of this!

University Students

Similar to Sixth Form student finance there used to be something called the “Access To Learning Fund” (ALF). This used to be the uniform name for additional student finance for all universities, however in their collective wisdom universities now name their own schemes individually. Great. Good news though, is that they are still there and very much available!

Each university has different types of additional student finance, ranging from bursaries (typically non-repayable) and loans (repayable). Nearly every university will have a central bursary “Pot” to which all students can apply for and will most likely be accepted for. Obviously, the amount of the bursary is different for each university.

Let’s then look at a random university, in this case, The University of Nottingham (UoN):

UoN offers a “Core Bursary”, “Hardship Fund”, “Crisis Loans” and a variety of other additional sources of student finance, all of which can be found at the below links:

https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/studentservices/support/financialsupport/bursariesandscholarships/bursaryfaqs.aspx https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/studentservices/support/financialsupport/support-funds/index.aspx

The point I’m trying to make to you here is that there are a whole load of additional sources of student finance , you just have to find them!

In short, type in the name of your college or university and then the words “student support” or “Student Finance” and you should find what you’re looking for.

And if you can’t find this yourself, contact us on (Twitter, or comment below) and we’ll see if we can find your educational establishment’s additional source of student finance.


If there is something you would like to know more about, leave a comment or tweet us with your ideas 🙂

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