Bursaries and scholarships explained

Bursaries are non-repayable grants of varying amounts of money based on financial need. These schemes are designed specifically for students who can not be financially supported by other means, such as parental income. The programmes vary from company to company but you will find that most large law and accountancy firms offer bursary schemes, from an annual payment of £1,000 to covering all the costs of your son or daughter's studies, including residency.

Scholarships are grants provided on the basis of academic achievement, and not on financial need. These are designed for outstanding and high-achieving students. Even if your household income is too high for your son or daughter to be eligible for a bursary, there are plenty of scholarships available to provide financial assistance, regardless of income or support.

Bursaries and scholarships not only provide a substantial financial aid, but they can also relieve the burden of debt from you and your child, allowing them to focus more closely on their studies. This financial help is mainly available to students who are reading law or accountancy, but it is worth checking university and college prospectuses as they often offer their own bursaries and scholarships for students. Many construction and engineering companies, such as the Construction Youth Trust ( www.constructionyouth.org.uk), also offer financial help and work experience for undergraduates who are taking related courses.

Firms which provide financial aid such as these programmes award bursaries or scholarships on a very competitive basis, often with a specific application and selection process. In general, your son or daughter will need to apply for these programmes at the beginning of the year in which their first academic year of study will begin. This gives the firms time to process all the applications and make their selections before the start of term.

In an application for a bursary, firms will be looking for your child to be dedicated to their area of study. Of course, students will need to show that they are in need of financial aid, but they should also express self-confidence and high energy levels. When applying for a scholarship, students should consider why they deserve the award and remember that the company will be looking for evidence of outstanding academic achievement as well as a confident well-rounded individual.

The companies that offer these awards are prepared to aid students during their university years as they hope that the future bright sparks of the law or accountancy world will eventually work for them. This means that in return for a bursary, the firm may ask your child to do some unpaid work experience with them, or to join one of their training programmes, which can lead to securing a full-time position within the company after university or college studies.

It is also a further advantage for your daughter or son, as they will gain invaluable experience in the field which will not only help them decide on a career path, but will impress prospective employers. They may even be given access to the selection process for full-time training programmes, which can lead to that permanent job and the beginning of your child's career.