Would you turn down £1,000 of free money?
Probably not, and yet that is exactly what many students are doing by not taking up the university scholarships, grants and bursaries available to them.
Scholarships, grants and bursaries are all, effectively, free money. The only difference between them is where that money comes from.
Scholarships are usually given by universities, companies or industry associations while grants and bursaries are typically provided by charities (and sometimes by universities too).
You will often find the terms scholarship, grant and bursary being used interchangeably, but the basic premise is the same - this is money you do not have to pay back.
But every year, thousands of pounds in awards goes unclaimed. Want to get your share? Follow these top tips to give yourself the best chance of claiming what could be yours.
1. Don't assume you won’t be eligible
s a myth that scholarships are only given to the academically gifted or those from a low-household income. Explore the options and you'll find plenty of other routes to boosting your bank balance.
Some of the weird and wonderful scholarships out there will probably surprise you. Is your surname Menzies? There's a scholarship for you. Are you a veggie? Yup, there's some free cash with your name on it. Mum or dad work as a grocer? Here's some money.
You get the gist; being top of your class isn't the only way to getting an award. So, although there might not be a scholarship for literally everyone just yet, do take the time to check. If you don’t look, you definitely won’t find anything.
2. Widen the net
Your chosen university should always be the first place to look, but don't stop there. Universities will only have information on their own offers on their websites, so you'll need to check elsewhere to make sure you're not missing out.
Charities and businesses will often hand out awards; check those that are relevant to your subject.
3. What have you done to deserve this?
Make a list of all the things you’ve done or would like to do in the future, which might make you eligible for a scholarship.
This could include sporting or musical achievements, work in the community, your hobbies or your background. Some scholarships are based on where you come from, your family circumstances or your career aspirations. And yep, if you're the first in your family to go to uni, there's a scholarship for that, too.
4. Check the deadlines
Too obvious? Well the last thing you want is to miss out on a chunky cheque because you forgot the deadline. Some university scholarships consider you automatically by way of your UCAS application, but this is not always the case. Make sure you know which ones you have to actively apply for and when.
5. Apply, apply, apply
Every year, pots of free money goes unclaimed because there weren't enough applicants. The more you apply for, the better your chances of getting some money.
Do put the effort in with your application. Don’t even think about using text speak in your application, use capital “I”s when talking about yourself and check your punctuation. Oh and don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!! Your application could be rejected if it appears you have not taken time and consideration over it.
6. Put the date in your diary
Scholarships, grants and bursaries are not just offered to freshers, so make this a process you go through each year and you could be significantly reducing your overall student debt. Although this might all seem like it could take up a lot of time, think of it as a way of earning money. The amounts given can range from £250 up to your full tuition fees paid plus maintenance costs. And that's surely worth anyone's time.
The Student Room provides guest spots to external contributors. This article has been written by Karen Kennard, director of The Scholarship Hub, a website where students can search for university scholarships available to UK students.