GRANTS that could help allay the effects of the cost of living crisis for young people from low-income families going to university are available from Wiltshire Community Foundation.
The foundation’s University Bursary programme awards £1,600 for each year of university to students under the age of 25 to help bridge the gap between the maximum student loan available and what their families can afford to help support them. The grants can be used for general living expenses, course costs, travel or for books and equipment.
They are open to people aged between 17 and 24 who have lived in Wiltshire for at least two years. Applicants, or their parent/carer, must be in receipt of two means-tested benefits or two elements of
The programme has been running since 2008 and has so far awarded almost £2 million in grants. Last year, over
70 students were helped through more than £350,000 in grants.
Past grant recipients have spoken about how not worrying about paying bills helped them with their studies.
Media production student Kenny Abiola only found out about the existence of the grant in his third year at Coventry University. For the previous two he had been working nights in a warehouse to make ends meet. “It was quite tiring and there wasn’t a lot of time left for studies,” he said. “The grant was great because it gave me breathing space.”
Emily Fletcher, who studied graphic design at Portsmouth, said the grant meant not having to find a job. “I come from a single parent family and I just didn’t think there was a chance of me being able to go to university without getting a job and working quite a lot of hours,” she said. “I thought that would be quite a lot of work and I was quite worried about money.”
Cassidy Hill said the grant helped her begin her teacher training degree in Winchester, sooner that she would otherwise have been able to.
“The grant was an absolutely massive help because my mum just couldn’t afford to give me anything towards university,” she said. “I had worked for two years while I was in the sixth form but it still wasn’t enough to cover my housing and food as well.
“It sounds so silly but being able to afford food and not worry about it was really important for my mental health. It has been brilliant and I wouldn’t have enjoyed university nearly as much, or done as well, without it.”
Wiltshire Community Foundation grants manager, Nicola Hillier, said that the cost of living crisis has made it harder than ever for young people to afford university. “Why should someone with talent and drive be denied the chance to fulfil their promise just because of the financial barrier?” she said.
“Our grants can provide some certainty and peace of mind at what can be a very stressful, daunting time. They allow students to budget and make the most of what should be a life-changing experience.”
She and the foundation’s grants team keep in touch with students throughout their course. “It’s a real privilege to meet young people at the start of their university journey and watch them blossom and move into the careers they otherwise might have been denied,” she said.
“We have seen some amazing success stories of young people achieving great things in science, music, teaching, finance and many other areas so we know these grants make a world of difference.”
More details on eligibility and how to apply before the closing date of May 15 can be found at wiltshirecf.org.uk/grants-and-support/individuals.