Whether you’re a teenager looking to continue in full time education or an adult wanting to change careers or get help with childcare costs, there may be a grant or a loan to help you fund your learning.
Loads of grants go unclaimed each year in the UK – but we’ve created this guide so you can bag the cash you’re entitled to.
Other Grant Grabbing Guides
What is a grant?
A grant is money, or a voucher, that contributes towards the cost of you buying something. Although it may not cover the full cost of the item, meaning you’ll have to cough up the rest yourself, it is almost always completely free. Grants are usually offered to encourage people to do or buy something they wouldn’t normally consider.
Most grants tend to be for specific suppliers, which can mean even after the grant, it isn’t necessarily the cheapest place so always check if you can get it cheaper somewhere else. See the Online Shopping and look for ideas or ask your own question on the Student MoneySaving forum.
The Top Education Grants
Check the following ways to help with costs or fund your learning to see if you might be eligible...
Hidden scholarship and funding
If you're going to uni there are loads of hidden sources of cash available, often less about academic ability and more about things like religion, geographic location or parental occupation.
Educational Grants Service: This service offers students, especially disadvantaged ones, guidance and advice to enable them to secure funding for education and training. Its site, part of Family Action, has a searchable database of over 30 educational trusts.
Postgraduate Funding: There's less help available for people wanting to do a second or third degree - normal student loans aren't available, so consequently it can be difficult to fund studies. Postgrad Solutions has created an "Ultimate Postgraduate Student Funding Guide" which signposts places to find postgrad education funding.
Scholarship search: There's some nifty search tools on the Scholarship Search and Studentcashpoint websites, including bursaries, scholarships and award funding students can apply for. You'd be surprised what's available. Some are very specific, aimed at students according to religion, location, parental occupation and many more.
Study in Europe: If you want to study part of your degree in one of 33 participating European countries, grants are available from the British Council as part of the Erasmus scheme.
Here are some examples of grants to give you inspiration...
I managed to get a journalism course funded through a new deal advisor at the job centre after I was turned down for another grant. It was a long process and I had to prove that the course would lead to gainful employment but I was persistent and got a grant for £3,000. It's worth asking the job centre "is there any way I can get help to pay for this course?"
I was sponsored £1,000 towards the cost of a Legal Studies course by a small charity. Just need to find the rest now...
Standard student MoneySaving
No-one in the UK should be put off studying because of potential student debt. Done right, it's very different to normal debt. It's only repaid when you finish studying, and if you don't earn enough when you leave (and of course one reason for studying is to enable you to earn more) you don't have to pay for it. Types of funding are as follows:
Student loans: Most UK higher education students are eligible for a student loan.
Maintenance grant: Students in England are also eligible for a grant of around £3,000 to help with living costs if their parents earn under £25,000. For more info and details of the grants in Wales, Scotland and NI see the guides below.
Further education loans for the over 24's
If you live in the UK and you're 24 or over, you can apply for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan to help with college or training tuition costs.
To be eligibile, you'll need to be studying a 'level 3 or 4' course - these include A levels, Access to Higher Education Diplomas and also covers many apprenticeships. You also need to have lived in the UK for the last three years.
There's no credit check to get the loan, and it doesn't depend on your household income. How much you get depends on what you're studying and what your college charges in tuition fees. The minimum loan is £300. The loan will be paid directly to the college.
There's also a 24+ Advanced Learning Loans Bursary Fund, which you can apply to if you need learning help, or to cover childcare or residential costs.
If you're studying an Access to Higher Education diploma, then go on to complete a higher education course, your 24+ Advanced Learning Loan is written off.
You start paying the loan back when you earn £21,000 a year or more. Interest is charged at RPI+3% while you're studying, then at RPI.
Learning accounts for Scottish adults
If you live in Scotland and earn less than £22,000 a year, you could get some funding from ILA Scotland.
This provides a grant of £200 towards the cost of learning something new at any approved learning provider, including learning centres, local colleges, universities and private training companies.
Local council grants
There may also be grants to advance your education available from your local council. As councils can offer different funding, search for details on its website or contact them to ask for more information. To find your local council’s details enter your postcode on the Gov.UK website.
Free short courses
If you're not looking to take an in-depth or long term course, there are thousands of short courses happening all over the UK. Many free courses can depend on where you live, but there are a few schemes that run throughout the country. Plus ...
Over 50 and interested in setting up your own business?
The Prince’s Initiative, a charity that supports people who are out of work or facing redundancy, provides a 'Preparing to Run Your Own Business Course' for the over 50s. It's free but does require an £80 deposit which is refunded on completion.
The course runs all over the UK and includes areas such as marketing and finance. For more information, or to book a place, see the prime website or call 0845 862 2023.
Want to improve your maths and English skills?
If you’ve ever wanted to improve your Maths and English skills, virtually every college in the country offers free courses to help you from basic literacy and numeracy up to GCSE level. Check on the National Careers Service website or call 0800 100 900 for classes in your area.
Need help getting started online?
If you’d like to learn more about using a computer, or want to introduce the internet to a friend or a family member, the UK Online centre community network has a free short course to help get people started using computers and the internet, called Online Basics. You can do the course at home, or at a local UK Online centre.
8 million people in the UK, mostly the over 65s or those out of work, have never used the internet. If you'd like to help someone get started using the internet the Go On Give An Hour website has some great tips.
Want to learn a language?
There are plenty of places which'll teach you a language for a fee, yet you needn't pay a penny. There are a host of completely free websites and online tools which cater for every learning style.
See the Learn a Language for Free guide for a full run down of some of the best.