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'I can't afford to do my course, what help is there available?'


Can you advise this student nurse?

“I started my nursing course in September after working for a year so I’d have some money behind me. I knew I was getting minimum bursary because of my parents income (even though their money’s tied up in mortgage so they can’t afford to help me out) so I planned to carry on working part-time when I started, but the course just doesn’t leave me the time to commit to regular hours (unless I give up sleeping).

“My savings are going down far quicker than I thought. I can barely afford the travel to and from placement and my rent is going up in January.

“I just don’t see how I can carry on barely being able to feed myself, especially if work gets harder in second year.

“What can I do?”

Martin*, UK

*name change to protect identity


Do you have any advice for Martin?


If you would like a problem you’re experiencing to be featured in our “Ask a Student Nurse” feature, email, letting us know if you would like to remain anonymous.



Readers' comments (5)

  • That sounds like a very difficult situation; I think it is so hard trying to cope with the demands of training as well as having extreme financial pressures. I imagine you have taken up the student loans which are available to you? - if not that is the main thing to investigate I'd think. Plus can you try and find bank work for when you are in theory blocks? - it may be possible to do extra night shifts and make some extra money in the 'quieter' times of the course.
    Also, at my uni, you can claim back travel costs to placement - have you checked out your eligibility to claim these?
    Plus maybe not applicable to undergraduate students, but there used to be 'career development loans' for people seeking to retrain.
    Very best of luck anyway: I'm currently a mature second year nursing student, struggling to make ends meet but thank god I get the full bursary being classed as an independent student - otherwise I could never have afforded to follow this dream. Don't give up on a potentially fulfilling career path unless there is absolutely no other way. You've worked very hard to get this far, and come qualification, there should (crossed fingers!) be more financial security and less pressure...

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  • To add to the above advice, trim down any excess outgoings.
    My husband and I have been social recluses and lived without sky television, take away's and cinema.
    We haven't celebrated our wedding anniversary or bought each other presents for Christmas and birthdays throughout the duration of my course!
    We have sold items of value to pay for car tax and repairs so that I can get to uni and placement!
    Neither of us have bought new clothes or even underwear for 3 years! Stopped paying for hair cuts! I cut his and my own! I finish in March I cannot wait. It is a massive struggle but will be so worth it, you can do it! Don't give up!

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  • Hi there,

    There is a charity called Cavell Nurses' Trust that offer financial support to Nurses and Student Nurses if their circumstances have changed leading them to be in financial difficulty. I don't know if you would be eligible but it is worth applying to find out. Here is the link:

    Also, my university has a hardship fund for students in difficulties, so ask at your uni if they have something like that. I believe most universities also offer an emergency loan if it came to such.

    Hope this helps. All the best and good luck with your training.

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  • During my training I worked 30hrs a week in accounts, had a mortgage, baby and live in-nanny as there was no childcare available. It was the only way to get through the course. The bursary didn't even cover childcare costs. I watched no TV and read no books that weren't course related. I shopped once a month and spent 4hrs cooking on a Sunday for the whole month and froze everything. I read everywhere I could - train, loo, bath, bed! I would get up and feed the baby, go to placement, come home, early dinner, feed & bath the baby then go to work till midnight. Study for the hour train journey and an extra hour at home then bed and do it all again. I had no life. It was exhausting and 6 months left to go on the course I had almost no marriage (husband was no help at all) and total exhaustion with hardly any immune system left. I took out a bank loan and stopped work to get my course finished, then sold my house 2yrs later to pay off the loan. It was awful, and yet great at the same time. It made me realise I have been put down and underestimated my whole life but I am very strong and capable of anything! I would not do it again but have no regrets and I now earn less in nursing than I did as a self-trained 26yr old secretary. I have tried to get out of nursing since but short of running my own business, employers are only interested in what I do now, (I run a medical centre treatment room) not what all of my skill set is. Check out That site and Aldi helped a lot! Ask for help, hardship funds, Uni counsellor, student's union, lobby your local MP, see if you can get live-in nursing accommodation and bank shifts or get a job as a live-in nanny part time close to Uni. I have supported 2 nursing students through their training by doing this, & walk everywhere, keeps you fit and sane at the same time! Break everything down into small chunks, look at getting through the week rather than the whole course and take it week by week. Good luck - it will be worth it and you will be a force to be reckoned with!

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  • In terms of funding, if you were estranged from your parents and alone in this big scary world, I guess you would get more money? I had to say that to get funding through college. Lets face it, you don't get the funding because of your parents income - that's because they are supposed to be funding you. In your circumstance they can't so go it alone and finish your degree.

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