School Fee Assistance: Scholarships and Bursaries

ISC schools are strongly committed to widening access and are make strenuous efforts to increase the amount they can offer in school bursaries. Many private schools offer financial assistance in the form of scholarships to very able pupils or bursaries to pupils who can demonstrate the need for financial support.

Help with school fees

A third of pupils at ISC schools are on reduced fees and about 6,000 pupils pay no fees at all. Most of these are on means-tested bursaries – sometimes called assisted places. The school looks at what it is reasonable for you to afford and sets a fee accordingly. Some schools have just a few of these assisted places, others have a large number. At Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, a boarding school, most of the pupils are on greatly reduced fees or pay nothing at all.

The details of bursaries and school fee assistance will always be found on the schools’ websites. If anything is not clear, contact the school’s admissions office. Some schools require you to apply for a place a long time in advance.

Schools have different age points of entry such as age 5, 7, 11, 13, and 16. The numbers of bursaries and scholarships on offer vary according to age of entry but tend to be more numerous for older pupils.

Help with school uniform costs

For families with low incomes a school will normally have a fund which contributes to the costs of extras such as uniform, books and school trips.

A third of pupils at ISC schools are on reduced fees.

Search for scholarships and bursaries

Use the ISC School Search to find schools offering scholarships, bursaries, hardship awards and other types of school fee assistance or assisted places.

The search also allows you to filter by other requirements such as location, boarding or day options and age range.

The Educational Grants Advice Service

ISC does not provide assistance with funding but you may wish to phone The Educational Grants Advice Service, which offers information and advice on a variety of routes into finding fee assistance.

  • The Educational Grants Advice Service +44 (0)1932 865 619 (9am-11am, Monday - Friday)

To provide more places for disadvantaged children, many independent boarding schools are also working closely with;

The Educational Grants Advice Service offers information and advice on a variety of routes into finding fee assistance.


What are bursaries?

A bursary is a grant, awarded to a pupil to enable them to study at an independent (private) school, when they might not be able to, otherwise.

Many ISC schools have fundraising programmes so that they can offer more help to families who may not otherwise be able to afford the fees. These funds are awarded as bursaries to help reduce school fees.

According to the latest annual ISC Census, £440 million was provided in means-tested fee assistance for pupils at ISC schools. Nearly half of all pupils on means-tested bursaries have more than half of their fees remitted.

Bursaries are means-assessed on a financial basis and will require a parent or guardian to complete a declaration to establish whether the student meets the necessary criteria. This is usually re-assessed each year that the bursary is required.

There are over 40,000 pupils on means tested assistance at ISC schools.


What are scholarships?

Scholarships are a form of financial aid available to pupils who are particularly strong either academically, or in music, sport or art. Both scholarships and bursaries can be awarded to children at the same time.

Parents or guardians should contact the admissions department of the individual schools you are interested in directly, as schools will have their own fee assistance programmes.

Find a school offering fee assistance

To find schools with financial assistance options please use our ISC School Search. Information about bursaries will be on the Bursaries and Scholarships page, often in the Admissions section of a schools’ website.

Scholarships are available for pupils who are particularly talented.