The NHS Bursary explained

Updated: Apr 27

How do I apply? Who is eligible? How much do I get?

The NHS Bursary is an annual award that pays the cost of your tuition fees and an extra monthly amount to assist with your day to day living costs if you are eligible. The NHS bursary is available for your 5th year of study onwards (typically your 4th year, if you intercalated, or your final year if you did not, in Medicine or Dentistry. The NHS bursary is not subject to income tax deductions or national insurance contributions.

The income-assessed bursary is usually calculated using your parents’ income (most of us will be classed as 'dependents'). If you are an independent student, it can be assessed using your income (part-time work does not count) or that of your spouse / civil partner / partner.

If you’re an eligible full-time NHS student starting a course on or after 1 September 2012, you can apply for:

  • the NHS tuition fee bursary (covers the cost of your tuition and is directly payable to your university)

  • non-means-tested grant for maintenance (£1000 available to all students regardless of parental income)

  • means-tested bursary for maintenance (assessing your parents' income)

  • additional grants and awards e.g. Travel Grants

The NHS bursary was controversially stopped for nurses and midwives, but recently, the government has decided to do a U-turn. Nursing, midwifery and many allied health professional students are now to receive between £5000 and £8,000 a year to help fund their studies from September 2020. And they won't need to pay back a penny. WOOP!

Healthcare students from the following areas will receive up to an extra £1,000, as these specialist disciplines are struggling to recruit. These are:

  • mental health nursing

  • learning disability nursing

  • podiatry

  • orthoptics

  • radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)

  • prosthetics and orthotics

+ £1,000 for childcare costs help them balance their studies with family life

+ £1,000 in areas of the country which are finding it hard to recruit people onto courses

Students who will benefit from this funding are:

  • dietetics

  • dental hygiene or dental therapy (level 5 courses)

  • occupational therapy

  • operating department practitioner (level 5 and level 6 courses)

  • orthoptics

  • orthotics and prosthetics

  • physiotherapy

  • podiatry or chiropody

  • radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)

  • speech and language therapy

  • paramedicine

  • midwifery

  • nursing (adult, child, mental health, learning disability, joint nursing/social work)

More info for these students can be found here

When can I apply for the NHS bursary?

  • Medical students in the 5th year of their medical course onwards can apply for the NHS Bursary - whether you are an undergraduate student or graduate on an undergraduate programme.

  • Intercalating medical students from their 5th year of study onwards (i.e. intercalating after completing 4 years of undergraduate medicine - for example, if you're a King's EMDP student who is also intercalating, your total degree length is 7 years and your intercalation year will be your 5th year of study. Applying for the NHS bursary may help if you want to do a Masters or need extra money for your iBSc/BA).

  • 2nd year graduate medical students on a 4-year accelerated graduate degree course (England and Welsh domiciled students only).


  • If you moved to England from elsewhere (including the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) for the purpose of undertaking full time medical or dental education, you will not be eligible for NHS Bursary funding.

  • Repeat years do not count towards the qualifying year of study for NHS Bursary funding purposes. No further bursary funding can be awarded to you if you need more than one 12 month period of repeat study to complete your course, regardless of your circumstances.

What does the NHS bursary include?

Tuition fees

If you’re eligible for an NHS bursary, the NHS pays your standard tuition fees (up to £9,250). Your course tuition fees are paid directly to your university.

If you’re studying a graduate-entry accelerated medical or dental programme, you can get SOME of your tuition costs paid with an NHS bursary in years 2 to 4 of your programme. This is currently £3,715 if you’re starting in the 2019 to 2020 academic year.

Non-means-tested maintenance grant

A £1000 maintenance grant is available for all students eligible for the NHS Bursary.

Means-tested maintenance grant

If you apply for the means-tested bursary, any additional amount you receive will depend on your household income.

You will either be classed as a dependent student, in which you will need to submit details of your parents’ income, or as an independent student, if you fill any of the following criteria:

  • You are married, in a civil partnership or divorced 

  • You are irreconcilably estranged from your parents 

  • You have no living parents

  • You have care of a child or children under the age of 18 years

  • You have supported yourself financially from your own earnings for a total of 36 months (where these do not include income from student loans or other forms of statutory student support).

You’ll get a reduced Maintenance Loan. The amount you get depends on:

  • where you live and study

  • whether you’re in the final year of your course (when you get less)

The current maximum rates (quoted from the NHS Bursary Website as of 15 Sept 2020):

  • up to £2,207 if you’re living with parents

  • up to £3,191 if you’re studying in London

  • up to £2,643 if you’re studying outside of London

Additional grants and awards

The NHS Bursary scheme also administers a number of additional grants and allowances for specific groups of students.

Extra weeks allowance

  • An allowance is available for each extra week above 30 weeks and 3 days that you attend placements across the academic year. This does not include vacation periods.

  • The amount you will receive differs according to whether you live in London and whether or not you live with your parents. You will ONLY receive the extra weeks allowance if you have applied for the means-tested bursary.

Practice placement expenses (PPE)

  • You may also be eligible for travel to placement costs, which can cover some of the additional costs you might incur travelling to and from placements.

  • It is normally worth keeping all receipts so that at least partial and sometimes full payment can be made.

  • Only the difference between your travel to your placement and your normal costs for travelling to medical school will be reimbursed.

  • You must submit your claim within 6 months of the last date of your placement.

Other awards from the NHS Bursary Service are available for parents, students with dependants or students with disabilities. More information for all of the additional awards discussed hereafter can be found on the Gov UK website here or directly from the NHS Bursary Service.

How does NHS Bursary affect your Student Loan (from SFE)?

The NHS bursary will reduce your maintenance loan from Student Finance. A reduced loan may sound negative at first, but the bursary will make up for any loan lost and you’ll have less debt to repay in the future. You can apply to SFE if you need it and most people are given between £1000-2000.

How it’s paid

The NHS bursary is paid into your bank account in 12 equal monthly instalments. The means-tested Maintenance Loan is usually paid into your bank account at the beginning of each term.

How to apply

  • This year, the NHS Bursary finally made some changes and made the whole system online. You need to sign up for an account here.

  • You must reapply for your bursary every academic year like Student Loan.

So there you have it. Most students get their tuition fees paid for + £1000 but whether you get the means-tested bursary requires extra information/application.


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