Trusts and Charities
What financial help can I get from trusts and charities?
Funding from trusts and charities can only ever be a top-up to the core funding you already have, not a replacement for it. You will almost always be expected to have explored all other means of financial support before applying. In general, you need to have exceptional circumstances for charitable funding to be a realistic option. For example, help may occasionally be available for final year students in severe financial hardship and for whom a small payment would enable them to complete their course. Some trusts and charities only provide help with specific costs, and many trusts do not help with tuition fees at all. Many trusts and charities have only restricted available funding, with some charities not making any awards to students at all.
If you contact them directly by phone or email in advance of making any written application, most will be able to give you an idea of whether they are making any awards and the amount of money successful applicants can expect to get. If the amounts they offer are quite low, and if they offer very few awards each year, make sure you have considered all other available options before deciding whether to invest the time and effort needed to apply for this type of funding.
How can I find trusts and charities to apply to?
Turn2Us, a charitable service, has a database of trusts and charities accessible via a grant search which may provide financial assistance to students.
Although there is an online search facility, it is usually better to ring their helpline on 0808 802 2000 and speak to an adviser. Lines are open Mon-Fri 9am to 8pm. This is because the adviser you speak to can advise you about organisations which would not appear using an online search and which could potentially help you based on your individual circumstances.
If you are a Muslim student, you may be eligible for some financial help from the National Zakat Foundation. Detailed advice about eligibility and the different areas they may be able to offer help with are set out on their website.
When should I apply?
Many trustees meet only once or twice a year to assess applications, so it is important that you apply before the relevant deadlines. Some trusts may agree to offer funding at the start of your course and then a small top up in each subsequent year of your course. It is usually a good idea to apply well in advance of the first year you need funding for and by any stated deadline to ensure your application stands the best chance of being considered. Other trusts may offer one-off help to students who find themselves in financial hardship once their course has started, particularly if you are near the end of your course. These trusts may also have deadlines which you would need to check before applying.
How do I apply?
You will need to carefully research the criteria of trusts and charities and then make separate applications to each relevant trust or charity, explaining your situation and how you meet their criteria. You may need to complete an application form, which the trust can send you or which you can download from their website. If there is no application form, you will need to write a letter to the trustees who will decide your application. It is advisable to write a letter even if you have completed an application form as a letter enables you to explain your situation more fully, which maximises your chances of success. Once you have written your letter , you can contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like your letter checked. The Welfare Adviser may also be able to write a letter to go with yours, if that is required. However, if evidence of your academic ability is required, you would need to request this from your personal adviser, tutor or student support officer in your academic school. However, you can still contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service to get feedback on your application and supporting evidence.
In your letter, explain the following clearly:
How you meet the eligibility criteria
If the trust only helps people in a certain age group, or who live in a particular area, state clearly at the beginning of your letter your age, or the area where you live. If it is not clear to the trustees that you are eligible to apply, they might reject your application.
About your studies
Explain what course you are studying and where, which academic year you are in and when you expect to complete the course.
Trusts and charities usually have very limited funds, and they want to be sure that any money they give you will enable you to complete your course. For this reason many trusts are more likely to help final year students, so if this is the case, emphasise this strongly. If you are not in your final year, try to explain how you plan to fund any future years of your course, so that the trustees can see that you will still be able to complete your course.
It can also be helpful to explain why you are studying this course, for example, what career you hope to do after graduation. This helps to demonstrate how serious you are about the course and how important it is for you to complete it, which can make your application more compelling.
Why you are in financial need
The trustees need to understand your financial situation and why you are asking for financial support. If you have a main source of funding but it is not quite enough to cover all of your costs, explain this. If your main source of funding has been temporarily disrupted or it has ended, explain this. If you have exceptional circumstances, such as long term illness or disability, or childcare responsibilities, explain this. Make it clear whether your financial difficulties are a one-off problem, affecting you only in the current academic year, or if they will continue throughout your course.
How much money you need
You need to present a clear budget listing all of your income and essential expenditure, so that the trustees can see your shortfall (how much money you need). If you are applying part way through an academic year, you will just need to show how much money you need to complete the academic year. You can use the budget planner spreadsheet which you can download from the budgeting pages of the website and the Advice and Counselling Service Advice Guide.
Where else you are applying
Explain how many other trusts and charities you are applying to, so that the trustees understand that you are not expecting them to give you enough money to cover your entire shortfall. If you have already been granted money from another trust or charity, or from the University, make this clear, and if possible include evidence, such as the award letter.
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.