Financial help

Financial help for pupils at independent schools is surprisingly widely available. Over 33% of all pupils in ISC schools receive some financial help – and the number is increasing. Find out what schools offer, starting from our school profiles.

Help comes in a variety of different forms: scholarships and exhibitions are normally awarded on the basis of a test or exam; bursaries are usually means-tested but may be linked to academic ability; some schools run assisted places schemes. Most are available in the senior schools only. In all cases, you apply direct to the school. If you are struggling with the fees, contact the school bursar early, not when you can’t meet the bill.

There are huge differences in the amount of money available – from schools with just one scholarship (and a bit of emergency money for pupils in exam years), to schools aiming to provide help for all their pupils. Some schools award little money for scholarships but a great deal for bursaries. Other differences to watch for are the main ages at which help is available; whether scholarships are for one year or for the whole school career; maybe one-year scholarships for talented artists of any age; some are closed awards for residents of, say, Bedfordshire or for pupils in state primary schools. The qualifying rules vary from school to school but there is some common ground in various groups. For instance, in HMC schools a scholarship may not exceed 50% of the fees although a means-tested bursary may be added. Some groups (eg GDST or the Friends’ schools) have their own group-wide schemes, with their own criteria administered by the individual schools.