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Where can I find sponsorship for my studies?

May 13, 2011

Here are some of the best ways to find sponsorship as a student.

E-how recommends beginning with companies you have a connection with, looking for local companies and investigating companies with a link to your subject. Check out their advice here.

The engineering industry has a very strong support for undergraduate sponsorship. Carillion for example, offers a £1,500 bursary plus 8-week placements over the summer holidays and 12 months industrial placements upon graduation. This kind of sponsorship could mean you not only gain money to study but then graduate and walk into a job!

Future Morph, a website devoted to young people and the future of science, has a fantastic .pdf of sponsorship information for undergraduates in the UK. Scroll right down to the bottom to download a list of potential sponsors. The .pdf is entitled “Financial Assistance”.

Free Degrees has a whole chapter on finding sponsorship, attracting joint sponsors, writing sponsorship letters and keeping your sponsor happy.

Once you have made a list of potential sponsors, the next thing you need to do is approach them.

How to approach a business sponsor.

Urgently need to find the money for uni?

May 13, 2011

So, what do you do if you are due to go to college imminently and you still need to find £9,000?

Recently I received a letter from a talented young student called Lorna, who had been offered a place on the MA course at the Royal Northern College of Music.  Although Lorna has been offered a £2,000 scholarship and had written letters to charities, she had less than six weeks to go until the course started and still had £9,000 to raise.  Lorna wrote to me asking for advice.

Well, for Lorna and all of you in a similar position, hope is not lost!

I suggest you put your energies into one massive fundraising event. You can definitely organise that in a month.

Some experiences in raising thousands of pounds quickly:

-We ran a Sponsored Jailbreak as got as many people as possible to take part. Friends, university colleagues, club members – even the local Rotary club helped. Ten people each raised an average of £150 on their sponsorship forms, helping me out to the tune of £1,500. We also wrote to local businesses and asked them for sponsorship, which raised a few more hundred pounds.

-An evening’s entertainment with tickets priced at £15+. Michelle, a friend of mine held a dinner-and-dance night. Local dance organisations all rehearsed a routine specially for the night, and audience members paid for dinner and watching the dances. The venue helped by keeping the catering costs as low as possible, and Michelle took home £10 for every ticket sold. She made over £2,000 on that night!

You could also organise a similar event with your fellow students while at college, and work towards an event in Reading Week or Christmas.

This might not raise £9,000 but if you can find the time to organise three of these events over the next year, you could easily raise £5,000 or £6,000.

Regarding charities, if you’ve done your homework and written to every charity you are eligible for from The Directory of Grant-Making Trusts then check in with www.funderfinder.org.uk.  If it is your first degree, also check out Lawrence Atwell’s Charity.

There’s also time to network and meet busines owners regarding possible sponsorship. Approach local rather than international companies, and ask for a meeting.  Meet them with the following options:

1 – to sponsor you £2,000+ as major sponsor.
2 – to sponsor you for a smaller amount like £250 as a joint sponsor.

Promise potential sponsors something in return. If you have a performance talent like music you can definitely offer to play at a company dinner or event of some kind! You can offer a termly report on your progress, and their company logo on your CV and fundraising letters. You can probably also get them some publicity and a photo through a press release to the local newspaper. Your college should be able to support you here by inviting your sponsors to official occasions and performances.  Check this out with the Bursar.

And finally, if you still need to raise thousands and you’re already at college, think about tutoring on weekday evenings or Saturdays. The going rate for tuition is at least £20 an hour, so you could easily make £100 a week -that’s over £3,500 a year (term time). As an undergraduate you are probably very qualified to teach English and Maths up to age 13 as well as any other specialist subjects. Adverts in local shops and on university noticeboards are often enough to get you some tutoring clients, and there are tutoring agencies who will take you on and find clients for you.

Tutoring for five hours a week should not interfere with your studies too much, and could pay your rent for the entire year.  It’s certainly better paid than bar work, and requires a lot less of your private time!

If you have to find money urgently, it can make you feel stressed.  Write a plan of action for the next month, with deadlines and start organising events, writing letters and meeting people.  Your hard work will definitely pay off.

Good luck!

The best offers and discounts for students

May 13, 2011

Want to make the most of your student cash? Here are some of the very best offers and discounts for students on the net:

Wealthy Student is an excellent, easy-to-navigate site that specifically helps students make money and save money. Editor Steve Burford graduated with over £5,000 left, and has written a book as a companion to the site.

VoucherCodes.co.uk has an amazing number of vouchers available for anyone, not just students!  You really should check this site out for a bargain, even if you check no other…

Student Free Stuff is a no-frills site, updated three times a week with thousands of great offers.

Student Beans is a well-presented site, which is easy on the eye and easy to navigate.

The Student Finance Blog is a well-resourced site with hundreds of articles on a variety of subjects ranging from accommodation to budgeting to making money and getting discounts.

Money Saving Student is my personal favourite and is written by a student, for students. The site is very regularly updated, and reads like a blog.

Moneywise is all about your money and your life, and although it is aimed at a wider audience, has thousands of excellent articles on spending wisely.

Money Saving Expert is probably the UK’s best money saving website, and regularly gets over 200,000 hits per day. It has loads of money-saving categories, and an excellent forum where readers can pose or answer questions and exchange money-saving ideas. The e-mail newsletter comes out weekly with all of the latest discount offers and links to vouchers.

Freecycle is a site dedicated to advertising unwanted goods for FREE! You can find all sorts of furniture and electrical goods on this site, as well as thousand of other products in excellent condition that need a new home. In the West Midlands and Warwickshire, there is a similar site called Community Freebay.

Couch Surfing is the ultimate site for getting a free night’s stay anywhere in the world. Millions of users with a free couch or spare bed post their details, and will happily give you somewhere to stay in exchange for your company and conversation. Users receive ratings and reviews in a similar way to Ebay, so you can be reassured of your personal safety before staying with a stranger.

Young Money is a website dedicated entirely to young people and their finances, and contains information for US as well as UK audiences. There are sections on student entrepreneurship, money management and financial aid for students. One excellent article for students by Elizabeth Hart can be found here.

If you have any suggestions for great discount or voucher sites, let me know by leaving a comment. In the meantime, happy shopping!

Ways to save money as a student – part three

May 13, 2011

Here are some more great ways to save money while you’re at university:

Before you go food shopping, have a plan! Consider your schedule for the week ahead. How many meals will you be eating at home? Do you need more lunches than dinners? How much time will you have to prepare food? Do you need to buy snacks you can take outside your home? Buy the foods that suit your coming week’s activities. There’s nothing worse than buying the wrong food and finding your fridge is full of food, but you don’t have time to eat it. It’s leads to wastage and that’s throwing money down the drain.

Buy fruit and vegetable from market stalls. On Saturday afternoons, a couple of hours before closing, market traders sell whole bags of vegetables and fruit for 50p or £1.

Develop and exercise your self discipline when it comes to spending. Yes, ‘self discipline’ might be one phrase you don’t want to hear, but exercising a little self-control doesn’t mean you can’t still live the student lifestyle and party like mad! The most financially successful people in the world all seem to have one thing in common: fantastic self discipline. They know how to make money, they know when to spend, and they know when to save.

Use Martin Lewis’ Money Mantra! Martin Lewis, otherwise known as the Money Saving Expert, has a fantastic website full of information for students. Check out his site Money Saving Expert.  And here is his Mantra:

  • Do I need it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Have I checked if it’s cheaper elsewhere?

Subscribe to Money Saving Expert’s newsletter. This arrives in your Inbox weekly with tons of new ideas of how to save money. I learned about the Pizza Express 2 for 1 offer here. Thanks to this newsletter, I had a trip to the cinema and a delicious meal for two for £18!  Subscribe here.

Check out websites that specialize in money-saving offers. Money Saving Student is an excellent website, updated regularly and written by a student, for students. There are other sites out there, so go Google!  If they offer Twitter updates or a newsletter, sign up for them and stay in touch.

Get a mobile phone with Orange and enjoy 2 for 1 films every Wednesday! It’s a great offer, and Orange’s customer service is second to none. Also, they offer BestPlan which means you can switch to a different minutes and messages package every month until you get the best deal for you. Their sim-only deals are especially good value for money.

Get a sim-only deal for your current phone. Do you really need that Blackberry or i-Phone on a contract? Why not ask for one for Christmas, get it unlocked and go for a sim-only deal. They cost a lot less than contract deals, and let’s face it, the phone companies make you pay a lot of money every month for that automatic handset upgrade facility. Orange’s sim-only deals are at least £15 a month cheaper than their contract deals for exactly the same minutes and texts.

For more money saving tips…

Catch up on Ways to save money as a student, parts one and two

And please leave a comment if you have any other money saving ideas for students!

Top up your student grant

May 13, 2011

Worried that your student grant won’t stretch that far?  Looking for other ways to top up your student grant?

The government’s cuts mean that many universities will substantially raise their fees in 2012, leaving many students with a shortfall of thousands of pounds.

Interest on student loans is still very low, but should students really be forced into borrowing £30,000 before they’ve even graduated?

Here are some ways to top up your student grant without increasing your borrowing:

  • Get together with friends and run a fundraising event.  You and your student buddies could host an event like a 24 Hour Dance-A-Thon, a Slave Auction or a University Challenge of your own!  If well organised, a fundraising event can bring in thousand of pounds.  At the end of my first year, I returned from RADA to work with 7-13 year olds on a Shakespeare Evening for parents and friends. We sold tickets and ran raffles and all monies raised went straight into my training fund. This not only raised over £1,000 but also gave me a chance to share my newly-learned skills with my community.
  • Choose a part-time job that pays well.  Why work for minimum wage in a pub when you can earn £15 to £25 an hour as a private tutor?  Not only is the earning potential greater, but you’ll work less hours and still be using your number on talent: your brain.
  • Use holiday times wisely to boost your income.  I wrote fundraising letters to businesses and individuals, applied to charities and ran charity events in the summer holidays. This raised thousands.
    My sister chose not to fundraise while at university, but she did work abroad every summer as a holiday rep and not only came back with a fabulous tan but with thousands of pounds in sales commission.

Your grant might only cover a fraction of your living costs while you are at university, but if you fundraise and increase your income carefully, you don’t need to get into poverty or huge amounts of debt.

For more ways to raise money and lessen student debt, check out Free Degrees, available here.

Ways to save money as a student – part two

May 13, 2011

Our money-saving series for students continues with more excellent tips!

Check for cheap second-hand textbooks before you pay full price for new ones!  Often colleges and universities hold book fairs where you can pick up textbooks cheaply. Otherwise, Amazon will quickly tell you if there is a second-hand book available cheaper elsewhere. You can then sell your used textbooks online at the end of your course! www.amazon.co.uk

Walk or cycle to college or university. Not only will it save you money, it will keep you fit too!

If you drink alcohol, buy in bulk and visit friends. Always meeting in the pub can be very expensive!

Go to the supermarket one hour before closing. Lots of fresh foods will be marked down in price. Great if you want to eat well, stay healthy and spend less money!

Use free internet-based calling systems to get in touch with your folks! Services like Skype can help you reach your loved ones and save money. www.skype.com

Work out a rough menu with your fellow housemates and buy your food all together! Buying in bulk is much cheaper, so a big bag of pasta is better value for money. Even if you only eat together twice a week, it will definitely save you money. Multipacks of fruit or chocolate bars are much better value than buying items singly. And make sure you take advantage of those buy one, get one free offers!

Share lifts when coming home for the holidays. Splitting petrol costs is much cheaper than traveling alone by train.

Get student discounts on travel. Here are some sources for discounts:
STA Travel
16 – 25 Railcard

Get your NUS card sorted out as soon as you can! With your NUS card, hundreds of discounts become available to you. Don’t put it off until Spring!

Got any bright ideas that could save students money? Share them by leaving a comment.

Want more ways to save money as a student? Jump to part three.

Donations and the credit crunch

May 13, 2011

“Do you think financial gifts will be affected by the credit crunch?” Helen asked me.

Hmm. I wasn’t sure. So I thought about it for a second.

A recent trend has started in our neighbourhood. My neighbours and I have started sharing our leftovers. Clothes, magazines we’ve already read, tubs of food, biscuits… any surplus and we’re handing it around like the Red Cross. Only just last week my neighbour Paul offered me a huge pack of bacon that someone else had passed onto him! Certainly in my neighbourhood the credit crunch seems to have inspired a sense of community and sharing.

Giving makes us feel important. So even if we feel more cash-strapped right now, we still want to give. We still want to feel important.

So how can we use this in terms of fundraising?

Well, gifts in kind are definitely on the up. Instead of asking for cash, why not ask for donations in kind instead? Here are some suggestions:

-a donated bicycle to help a cash-strapped student save thousands on tube fares
-two free hours in a large hire room twice a week to rehearse for a fundraising event
-use of a computer, printer and stationery to send out three hundred sponsorship letters

No-one likes to see waste and no-one wants to be mean. Normally, if a person or business can help, they will. But you need to point them in the right direction!