Bursaries and awards
Bursaries are extra sources of financial help available from colleges and universities. They’re paid on top of any Student Loans or grants you may get. Bursaries don’t have to be repaid.
Universities and colleges decide what’s available, but those based in Northern Ireland have to offer a minimum payment to students who:
- get the full Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant
- pay maximum tuition fees - £4,030 for 2017-2018
The minimum payment depends on the tuition fees the university or college charges. Many universities and colleges are offering considerably more than the minimum. In 2016 - 2017 the minimum bursary for a student receiving the full Maintenance Grant on a course charging the full £3,925 tuition fees is £392.50 but some universities may offer more.
If you started your course before September 2006, different rules apply. Contact the Student Finance NI team in the Education Authority office in your area to check if you're eligible.
How bursaries are paid
Usually, you’ll get a direct payment from your college or university. But some provide support in kind, such as:
- discounts on accommodation
- discounts on books
Find out how to apply from your university or college. Some administer their own schemes and others are administered by, Student Finance Northern Ireland.
The main application for student finance asks you to give your consent for Student Finance NI to share your application details with your university or college if necessary. Student Finance NI are the administrators of student finance applications, made up of the Student Loans Company and the Education Authority in Northern Ireland.
If your university or college handles their own scheme, giving your consent allows them to use this information to assess what you’re entitled to. If you don’t consent, you’ll need to provide this information to your university or college directly.
How Higher Education bursaries affect student loans
Northern Ireland students who are studying for their degree in the Republic of Ireland and also students who started their course before September 2006 who are entitled to the full £2,000 Higher Education Bursary will have their student loan entitlement reduced by £1,500. Students who receive a bursary of less than the full £2,000 amount will have their loan reduced by the amount of bursary they receive.
What to do if your circumstances change
If your circumstances change, or example if your household income goes up or down, you must tell the student support office at your university or college.
University and college bursaries
A number of the Northern Ireland institutions have bursaries and scholarships available to students. To find out if there is anything available at your college/university of choice, contact the institution directly or find out more:
Grants and awards from charitable trusts
There are a number of trusts and charities which provide higher education students with financial help. You may be able to get an award from one of these organisations on top of the student finance package provided by the government.
All Ireland Scholarships (JP McManus)
The All Ireland Scholarship Scheme, which is funded by JP McManus, provides significant financial support to high achieving students from challenging economic backgrounds.
You can find information about the scheme on this page:
Mobility grants from the Erasmus programme
As part of the Erasmus programme of European study, mobility grants are available to eligible students who want to do part of their higher education course in one of the 33 countries taking part in the scheme.
Step Up Programme
Find out how one female student found a route into university through the Step Up Programme offered by the Ulster University.
- Widening participation in Higher Education - going to university through the Step Up Programme (YouTube)
You can find contact details for the Step Up Programme on the Ulster University website.