Sources of External Funding

Students who fund themselves often find the search for external funding time-consuming and complex. Although we try to ensure the most up-to-date information is presented, government policy with regard to funding for adult learners in Higher Education is constantly changing. Much depends on whether your course is classed as ‘distance learning’ or ‘part-time’, ‘undergraduate’ or ‘postgraduate’.

View of Aberystwyth

Most of the information in this section is applicable to all learners studying with DIS. However you will find additional specific information for certain categories of learner (e.g. distance learning, part-time, full-time, undergraduate, postgraduate) following this general section

Please note that the information collated is primarily directed at UK domiciled students.

Please contact DIS if you have additional information regarding funding.

Who to contact if you normally live in England

Student Finance Direct
Tel: 0300 100 0607

Undergraduate students may be entitled to a fee grant and help with course costs providing they are studying at a rate of 50% or more of a full-time equivalent course. You can also find specific information for students based in England via the Money to learn website. Click here for more details:

Who to contact if you normally live in Northern Ireland

Student Finance NI Contact Centre
Tel: 0300 100 0077

Undergraduate students may be entitled to a fee grant and help with course costs providing they are studying at a rate of 50% or more of a full-time equivalent course.

Who to contact if you normally live in Scotland

Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS)
Tel: 0131-476-8212

Students whose home is in Scotland can contact the Student Awards Agency for Scotland for financial information. Part time grants and discretionary grants may be available. Click here for more details:

The Student Support Agency also maintains a Register of Educational Endowments containing information on Scottish trusts. Click here for more details:

Who to contact if you normally live in Wales

Student Finance Wales
Tel: 0300 200 4050

Undergraduate students may be entitled to a fee grant and help with course costs providing they are studying at a rate of 50% or more of a full-time equivalent course.  However, students who already have a degree cannot apply for this support.

You may qualify for additional grants if you live in Wales and are from a low-income family or have dependents. Visit the Student Finance Wales / Cyllid Myfyrwyr Cymru website for more details.

Aberystwyth University

For undergraduate students who are in receipt of benefits such as Working Family Tax Credits, help with funding may be available from the University.

For specific undergraduate financial information visit our website:

For specific postgraduate financial information visit our website:

For further information about the financial contingency fund and help with sources of funding for all students please contact The Student Financial Support Office, (01970) 621760

Career Development Loans

Career Development Loans are unsecured loans of up to £8,000 operated by the Learning & Skills Council (LSC) in partnership with three high-street banks. They are intended to help people who want to fund their own vocational education or training. A loan can be used to pay a percentage, or, in some cases, all of your course fees and residential school fees and for course materials and other related expenses.

You make no repayments during your course and for up to three months after it ends. During this period the Learning & Skills Council pays the interest on your loan. You must ensure that you can make all repayments before you take out the loan.

As a DIS distance learner student you may be eligible for a Career Development Loan for up to 80% of the fees if:

  • Your course is related to your job or to a career you intend to develop in the UK or elsewhere in the European Union
  • You are not receiving an award from another source, such as your employer or your Local Education Authority (LEA).

For more information and an application form, telephone the Careers Development Helpline on 0800 585 505 (freephone) between 8 am and 10 pm seven days a week.

You can find more information through the Direct gov website:

Disability allowance

Depending on your disability there are several claims you can make for financial help. The Disabled Student’s Allowance offers a range of financial support, and an additional grant may be available for travel costs. Some students with disabilities may also be able to claim DSS benefit.

For information contact DSS Benefits Advisor or SKILL (the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities) on (0171) 274 0565.
Your direct Aberystwyth contact is the Disability Officer (01970) 628537.

Tax Credits

Students and their families could receive extra money through the tax credits. Students with children are entitled to claim Child Tax Credit which HM Revenue and Customs will pay to those who are responsible for at least one child, whether or not they are in paid work. Students who work more than 16 hours a week could also be eligible for Working Tax Credit, which makes work pay for those on lower incomes. Extra help is also available to those who have a disability or who are caring for children with a disability.

You can find out more information by calling the HM Revenue and Customs helpline on 0845 300 3900.

Art and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)(UK & other EU student only)

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) administers schemes for postgraduate awards which provide funding for on-campus students undertaking Masters-level courses and doctoral research in the arts and humanities. The AHRC also fund students undertaking distance learning programmes which have a September start date.

More information can be found on the AHRC website: but if you have a specific question please write to

Interested students should also contact the relevant Programme Admissions tutor for further advice about the application process.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

This competition provides funding for those who wish to undertake a one year postgraduate Research Training Masters and then a three year PhD programme. Application is through the department so please contact the Director of Research for further information. Further information is also available from the ESRC website:


LearnDirect provides information on almost a million courses nationwide. They also offer a tailored financial advice service for individual learners. You can contact them on 0800-100-900 or via their webpage at:

Chartered Institute of Information Professionals (CILIP)

If you are a member of CILIP, you may be able to obtain some funding for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses through your local branch.

Contact CILIP on 020-7255-0500 for further information and visit their website at:

Local Education Authority (LEA) Grants


It’s a good idea to find out whether your local education authority will help you. Distance learning students are not automatically entitled to grants but LEAs can make discretionary awards. This kind of financial help varies from one LEA to another. LEAs make only a limited number of awards each year, so approach your local authority as early as you can. Click here for more details:

Educational Grants Advisory Service (EGAS)

EGAS ( can offer advice about charitable grants for education and can be particularly helpful if you are a single parent or have a disability.

The address to write to is

The Family Welfare Association
501-505 Kingsland Road
London E8 4AU

Crowther Funding for OU graduates

Students who have a first degree with the Open University can apply for this post-graduate funding by the end of March each year. Phone for details: (01908) 652930.

General Federation of Trade Unions Educational Trust

You can apply to this trust for an award if you are a member of a trade union and have completed one year of study with the University.

The address is:

Central House
Upper Woburn Place


If you are a member, try contacting:

Learning and Organisational Services
1, Mabledon Place
London WCIH 9AJ


Reference books and websites

Your local library may have reference books listing institutions to which you may be eligible to apply for financial support. You could look at, for example:

  • The Grants Register 2009, 27th edition (Palgrave MacMillan)
  • Directory of Grant-making Trusts 2007/2008, 20th edition (Directory of Social Change)
  • Educational Grants Directory 2006/07, 9th edition (Directory of Social Change)
  • Charities Digest 2008 (Waterlow Professional Publishing)
  • Second Chances: Guide to Adult Education and Training Opportunities

You may also want to visit the Student Money website at to look at the database of undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship awards that academic institutions, commercial organisations and charitable trusts offer.