Paying for university

So you’ve thought about it long and hard, and you’ve made your decision: university it is!

Going to uni is great for lots of different reasons, but it can cost quite a lot of money. Unless you live in Scotland and have been accepted to a Scottish university or a partner European institution, you will have to pay tuition fees, as well as accommodation and other living costs. But fear not: our experts are here to explain all about loans, bursaries and scholarships.

In this short video, our experts explain what financial help is available to pay for university.

Loans, scholarships, grants and bursaries: What you need to know

  • Student finance and maintenance loans, which are available to most students, have to be paid back once you earn over a certain amount. If you want more information on these, Martin Lewis from offers some no-nonsense advice on student finance in Martin Lewis: Student Loans Decoded.
  • There are other awards that don’t need to be repaid, but the responsibility is on you to find out about the support that’s available – institutions don’t normally come to you offering money!
  • Go directly to the university or universities you’re interested in. Each university has its own schemes, scholarships and funding options.
  • A bursary is normally means-tested, meaning it depends on your household income. Normally, the higher your income, the smaller the bursary will be. Bursaries are normally offered by universities, charities or local authorities.
  • A scholarship is normally based on attainment (i.e. academic excellence) or particular talents, such as sports. Scholarships usually cover tuition fees, but they can also include some money to help with living costs. Universities, research councils and sometimes professional bodies offer scholarships.
  • A grant is a sum of money that’s awarded for particular reasons, for example to travel abroad. You will have to put a case forward to receive one, often related to what you want to study or research.
  • In Scotland, SAAS has numerous types of funding that students can access, so speak to their financial officers so get all the information you need.
  • Each uni has different options, so get online, get researching, and get applying!
UCAS: The facts about university costs
How do I get a scholarship?
Choosing the right uni