Need advice on how to manage your finances at university? We have teamed up with MyBnk to produce this useful guide to help you every step along the way.Find out more about 'Getting Finance Ready for University'
Additional Funding Options for Your Studies
As a blind or partially sighted student there are a number of potential additional funding sources available to help you with your studies. On this page we have put together information to help you explore these options.
We always recommend that before applying for funding/grants from charities and other organisations, you first check what statutory funding you may be eligible for.
Statutory funding for university students
If you are planning to start a course at university, first take a look at our guide to funding your studies at university, which covers Tuition Fee Loans, Maintenance Loans and Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), alongside Master’s and Doctoral Loans, all provided by Student Finance England.
If you are already at university and you are experiencing financial difficulties, your university may have a hardship fund that you can apply for. You can ask your Disability Advisor or Students Union for help with finding out what your university offers and applying for these funds.
Statutory funding for college and sixth-form students
If you are planning to start a course at college, take a look at our guide to the funding available to support you at mainstream college, which covers tuition fees and the 16-19 bursary fund. If you have an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP), this will provide funding towards the additional support you may need at college, up to the age of 25. Find out more about EHCPs and how to apply for one.
It is also a good idea to ensure you are receiving any benefits you are eligible for, such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit (UC), and Employment Support Allowance (ESA). This money can help with covering your living costs while studying. Take a look at RNIB’s guide to benefits for people of working age to calculate what you might be entitled to and for support with benefits applications.
Additional funding options
If after going through the statutory funding options available, you still need additional funding or financial support to help with your studies, applying for scholarships or grants may be an option.
Below is a list of some of the organisations that might be able to help you. We always recommend reading through the eligibility criteria for each grant or scholarship carefully before applying. You should submit any applications as early as you can.
Most of the funding options listed below are for home/UK-based students, but some may be open to international students studying in the UK.
AbilityNet has a comprehensive guide on their website which covers finding funding for an adapted computer system and lists a range of charitable trusts which may be able to help.
The Amber Trust
The Amber Trust provides grants for blind and partially sighted young people aged 18 and under to pay for music lessons, purchase of instruments, and other costs relating to learning a musical instrument.
Blind Aid offers grants up to £300 for accessible household items and equipment for blind and partially sighted people on low incomes living in London. Grant applications must be made via a charity or statutory organisation, such as social services.
The Honeywood Trust
The Honeywood Trust provides grants for technology for disabled people to promote education, independence and wellbeing. The Trust’s contact details are:
Phone: 01904 621115
Gardner’s Trust for the Blind
Gardner’s Trust for the Blind offers grants of up to £600 towards computer equipment and software, education or training costs, and household items for people who are registered blind or partially sighted. They do not have a website, but their phone number is 020 7253 3757.
Guide Dogs – Tech for All
Guide Dogs runs a program called Tech for All which provides iPads for blind and partially sighted children aged 18 and under for home and personal use.
The Janki Saye Foundation
The Janki Saye Foundation provides grants to fund assistive technologies which can transform the lives of people with disabilities. This can include funds for electronic pointing devices, touch screens, screen readers and text-to-speech communication aids.
The Powell Family Foundation
The Powell Family Foundation provides grants to blind and vision-impaired children, young people and adults aged 25 and under who are resident in the UK and in need of financial assistance.
RNIB offers means-tested grants for blind and partially sighted people in receipt of benefits. These grants can pay for things such as accessible smartphones and tablets, accessibility software, electronic braille displays and other household items.
RNIB Data Packages
RNIB has partnered with the National Databank to offer a number of six-month long data packages to help blind and partially sighted people over 18 and on a low income to stay connected via the internet on a smartphone or tablet.
The Thomas Wall Trust
The Thomas Wall Trust provides grants of up to £1500 for over 18s who are on a low income towards course fees and study related costs such as accessible study materials and specialist equipment. This funding is only open to applicants who are studying accredited vocational training at level 3 (A-Level equivalent) or below. Applicants must have lived in the UK for at least 3 years.
The Scholarship Hub
The Scholarship Hub offers a database of scholarships and grants for students studying in the UK, alongside online resources about finance and budgeting for university students.
The Snowdon Trust
The Snowdon Trust offers grants of up to £5000 for students at college or university for disability related study costs that are not covered by statutory funding such as DSA. The Snowdon Trust also offers scholarships for disabled students studying for Master’s courses each year. Applications usually close in March.
Turn2Us offers a directory for grants on their website, by using a postcode search. You can refine this further, by adding additional information, such as religion, occupation, and health conditions that include an option for blind or visually impaired people.
VICTA provides funding for blind and partially sighted young people, aged up to 29 for assistive technology such as laptops, accessible software and braille notetakers.
Local Charities and Societies
There are a number of independent local societies for blind and partially sighted people around the country and they may offer the loan of, or grants for, equipment to help you in your daily life. To find out more about your local society, you can call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.
You may also be interested in…
Find out everything you need to know about applying for Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), a grant which helps blind and partially sighted students get the right support at university.Find out more about 'Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)'
A guide to support good mental health and wellbeing for blind and partially sighted students at university.Find out more about 'Mental Health and Wellbeing: A Guide for Blind and Partially Sighted Students'