This section of the website is focused on going to university, it covers:
Applying to university
How to pay for university and get money to live on
Get started below.
Applying to university
It can seem a bit daunting applying for university and funding and then having to work out where you are going to live. But there is lots of help out there to do all this if you know where to look.
If you are attending a school or college they will probably be able to help you with your application to university. Most people apply to university when they are in year 13 at school or college but you can apply to go to university at any time as long as you are working towards or have already obtained the qualifications to study what you want to do at university.
You will need to look online at the university websites to find out what qualifications you need to study each course.
Most university courses start in September and there are strict deadlines when you need to apply for a course. This could be as early as the October in the year before you want to go to university. All university applications go through a charity called UCAS.
Their website www.ucas.com gives further details and the exact dates you need to apply by.
Applying If you are a care leaver
When you complete a UCAS application there is an option to select if you are a care leaver.
This is really important as it will provide access to additional financial support.
Also, it's worth noting that some universities offer alternative entry routes to certain courses based on life and work experience rather than academic achievement. Each university will have its own information on whether this is an option and what the application process is.
Another important resource if you are a care leaver is the Propel website - https://propel.org.uk
It has information for care leavers on attending higher education. It allows you to compare the support available for care leavers at different universities and provides direct contacts for the staff responsible for supporting care leavers at each university.
Student Finance England
If you go to university or college you will need to pay the cost of the tuition fees. You may be able to get help to pay the university or college tuition fees and to help with living costs.
There are lots of rules about applying for finance and further information can be found on this website: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance
Usually, the amount you are allowed to borrow depends on your parents’ income. If you’re under 25 and have no contact with your parents, you might be able to apply as an ‘estranged student’.
In addition, if you have a disability you can apply for a Disabled Students Allowance
Bursary/Scholarships from University
Most universities offer a bursary for students who are not supported by their parents. This is sometimes called a hardship fund. Some universities offer scholarships. This could be for sport or academic excellence. You will need to check individual university websites for details of the amount offered and the criteria for obtaining the funding. If you obtain a bursary or scholarship this money does not usually need to be paid back.
You might be able to apply for a bursary from a charity, trust or company. If you obtain a scholarship this money does not usually need to be paid back. You should first look on the university website for this type of funding. Other websites are:
The Scholarship Hub is a free online database of UK scholarships, grants and bursaries for UK or EU undergraduate and postgraduate students. A basic sign up lets you search and subscribe to a newsletter or alerts for new funding that match your profile.
Turn2Us is a national charity that provides practical help to people in financial need. The website has a grant search facility and helpful guidance on the information you may need if applying for a charitable grant.
The Disability Rights UK factsheet is a useful tool for disabled students to find funding from charitable trusts.
Bursary from Leaving Care Service
If you're a new or continuing undergraduate student who was in UK local authority care prior to starting your course, you could be eligible for a bursary of up to £1,000.
You must be a registered student to apply for this bursary. Payment will be made to eligible students in May of the academic year you are studying.
You should look at the university website for details of how to apply for this bursary.
If you go to university away from where you usually live you will need to think about accommodation whilst at university. Even if you go to a local university you may prefer to find accommodation with or near other students at that university.
It's also worth knowing that some universities offer year-round accommodation to care leaver students. Each university will have its own information under their accommodation section on what their offer is to care leavers.
University Hall of Residence
Halls are usually large blocks of flats housing hundreds of students, with individual furnished bedrooms organised around corridors or apartments with a shared kitchen. In some cases bathrooms are also shared, although en-suite rooms are increasingly commonplace. Sometimes you can get catered halls, which means the cost includes some food.
They are usually managed by the university or in partnership with a private company, and the quality is generally good, as they have to comply with national codes.
Many universities guarantee a place in halls for full-time first year students as long as you meet application deadlines. However, this will vary between institutions
Private rented accommodation
A further option is to apply for accommodation with a private landlord. At most universities the accommodation office will help you find private rented accommodation
With both of these types of accommodation you only start the application for accommodation once you have accepted your place at a university.
If you plan to stay in the accommodation during the holidays you need to check the terms of the accommodation agreement. Some university halls of residence might not let you live there in the summer holidays.
Council Tax Exemption
Households, where everyone’s a full-time student, do not have to pay Council Tax. If you do get a bill, you can apply for an exemption.
To count as a full-time student, your course must:
last at least 1 year
involve at least 21 hours study per week
Post Graduate Study (eg Masters / PHD)
Once you have obtained your degree from university you may decide you want to continue your education by studying for a Masters or PhD. You apply for the course in a similar way to that of an undergraduate course.
A Postgraduate Master’s Loan of up to £11,222 is available from Student Finance England. Students can apply if they are studying a Master’s degree. A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan of up to £26,445 is available from Student Finance England. Students can apply if they are studying for a doctoral degree.
LET’S RECAP ON WHAT WE HAVE COVERED
APPLYING TO UNIVERSITY - get as much help as you can when filling in your application form even if it is just reading over what you have written so there are no spelling mistakes.
FUNDING - You can get help from the government to go to university but also look out for money that is given out for free and that you don’t have to pay back.
ACCOMMODATION - if you are changing area to go uni you will need to find somewhere to live. It’s a good idea to try and live in halls for the first year and make sure you get the university accommodation office to help you find somewhere to live as much as possible.