Financial support for further education

If you’re going on to further education and need some financial support, there are some options. Here are the grants, loans and bursaries available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and where to go for more information.

Financial support for further education in England

It’s not just the cost of your course you may be able to get help with, but also the cost of day to day living and childcare.

Advanced learner loans

Who’s it for? These are loans for students aged 19 or over studying for A-levels, general and vocational qualifications and Access to Higher Education diplomas.

How much can I get?
The minimum loan amount is £300 and you won’t need to start paying it back until you’ve started earning over £25,000 a year.

The amount varies depending on your course and the fees charged by the course provider.

Discretionary Learner Support (DLS)

Who’s it for?
You need to be over 19 years old and studying on a course funded by the Skills Funding Agency – you can check with your college to see if your course is funded in this way. Your college may have additional requirements such as maintaining attendance rate. You can check this by searching on your college website or calling them.

You don’t qualify if you’re getting student finance like a student loan, or are on a Community Learning course.

How much can I get?
The amount you get varies depending on your course. Your course provider will be able to tell you how much you could get. But it could help to pay for travel, course fees, childcare and exams.

You need to be 20 years-old to get help with childcare costs – if you’re 19 years-old you can get Care to Learn for help with childcare costs, see below. You apply for a DLS through your course provider.

The money can then be:

  • paid directly to you, so you won’t need to pay it back
  • loaned to you, which means you will have to pay it back
  • paid to someone else, for example a landlord.

Care to Learn – Help with childcare costs

Care to Learn gives you financial help with childcare costs while you’re studying.

Who’s it for?

To be eligible you need to:

  • be aged under 20 years old when your course starts
  • be taking a course in a school, sixth form, college or children’s centres
  • using a childcare provider that’s registered with Ofsted, which can be a childminder, preschool group, day nursery or an out of school club.

How much can I get?

You’ll get £160 per child per week if you live outside of London, and £175 if you live in London.

For more information and details of what else is available if you have a baby, go to Grants and benefits if you’re studying and have a baby

Residential Support Scheme and Residential Bursary Fund

This scheme is to help you pay for term-time accommodation costs if your course is far away from your home.

There’s the Residential Bursary Fund, for studying at a specialist residential centre like arts or racing schools, and the Residential Support Scheme, for studying everywhere else.

To qualify for both you’ll need to be aged 16-18 years-old on 31 Aug 2018 for the 2018/19 academic year and meet residency criteria, which your college can check for you. If you’re 19 years old you may be eligible but you need to be continuing a course you started when you were aged 16-18 years-old, or have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Who’s the Residential Bursary Fund for?
To be eligible for the Residential Bursary Fund you also need to be:

  • at a college that’s too far to travel to every day
  • studying full time.

How much can I get from the Residential Bursary Fund?

The amount you get paid will depend on your household income.

Who’s the Residential Support Scheme for?

To be eligible for funding from the Residential Support Scheme you must also be:

  • not on housing benefit
  • in a household with an income below £30,993
  • be studying for your first level 2 or 3 qualification - A-Level, diploma or national vocation qualification
  • on a full-time course in England that’s funded by ‘16 to 19’, and is more than either 15 miles or a 2-hour round trip from your home.

How much can I get?

The amount you get varies on your household income:

Gross household income Studying outside London Studying in London
Up to £21,000 Up to £3,458 Up to £4,079
£21,001 to £25,704 Up to £2,305 Up to £2,685
£25,705 to £30,993 Up to £1,152 Up to £1,355
£30,994 or more £0 £0

Dance and Drama Awards (DaDA)

Who’s it for?

This is for students aged between 16 and 22 years old at the start of the academic year, who attend one of 17 private dance and drama schools. Drama students need to be aged between 18 and 22 years old.

Qualifying courses include:

  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Acting (3 years)
  • Level 5 Diploma in Professional Acting (1 year)
  • Level 5 Diploma in Professional Dance (Classical Ballet or Contemporary Dance) (2 years)
  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Dance (3 years)
  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre (3 years).

How much can I get?

The amount you get varies depending on your household income.

Household income Student contribution to fees DaDA maintenance grant in London DaDA maintenance grant outside London DaDA maintenance grant living at home
Under £21,000 £0 £5,185 £4,550 £1,417
£21,000-£27,000 £0 Up to £4,285 Up to £3,700 Up to £1,100
£27,001-£30,000 £0 Up to £1,350 Up to £1,000 £0
£30,001-£90,000 Up to £7,175 £0 £0 £0
Over £90,000 Not eligible for support £0 £0 £0

The exact bandings are very specific. To see all the bands, go to the GOV.uk website.

16 to 19 Bursary Fund

This is money you don’t have to pay back and can be used for things like books and transport.

Who’s it for?

To be eligible for this bursary you need to be:

  • aged 16 and under 19 on 31 August 2018 for the 2018/19 academic year
  • at a school or publicly funded college in England, not a university
  • on a training course or unpaid work experience
  • studying full time
  • if you’re over 19, you need to be continuing a course you started when you were aged 16-18, or have an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

How much can I get?

The bursary is either given as a vulnerable bursary or a discretionary bursary. A vulnerable bursary is paid at a maximum of £1,200 for students who:

  • have recently left local authority care
  • are financially supporting themselves with Income Support or Universal Credit
  • receive Disability Living Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Eligibility for the discretionary bursary depends on the school or college’s criteria.

Financial support for further education in Scotland

Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA)

This is a weekly payment that you do not need to pay back that can be used for things like books and transport. It’s paid directly into your account.

Who’s it for and how much can I get?

You’ll get £30 every two weeks, as long as your household income is below £24,421 for households with one child in full-time education, or under £26,884 for households with more than one child in full-time education.

You can get EMA or the maintenance bursary, but not both.

FE Maintenance Bursary (living costs bursary for full-time students)

Who’s it for and how much can I get?

The amount you can get with this bursary varies depending on your age, household income and who you live with, but pays up to £98.79 per week 2018/19. Speak to your college for more information.

Age Household income of less than: Living with your parents Living away from home Supporting yourself
If you are under 18 (can still apply for EMA) £20,351 £0 £39.27 (can still apply for EMA) £0
Aged between 18 and 25 £24,275 Up to £78.17 £98.79 £0
Aged 25 and above, supporting yourself or living with a partner £20,643 £0 £0 £98.79
Find out more about the FE Maintenance Bursary on the GOV.scot website

Adult dependant grant (Dependant’s Allowance)

Who’s it for and how much can I get?
If you are legally or financially responsible for an adult, including caring for someone, you can get up to £2,640 a year.

The grant amount depends on your income family circumstances and the income of the person you’re caring for.

Childcare funds

This helps students pay for registered childcare – the money can only be use for this. You can apply for up to £1,215 from this fund for 2018/19. Even if you are eligible you may not be able to get it as funds are limited.

It is also paid on top of any other grants you might get.

Who’s it for?

If you’re a lone or single parent, mature or part-time student, you can apply. Some full-time students also qualify, and eligibility varies between colleges.

Some colleges offer on-site nurseries or childcare vouchers instead of having a fund. Speak to your college for more information.

Additional support needs for learning allowance

Who’s it for?
This is to help you cover any extra costs because of your disability, like travel or study costs, and is paid to students with disability or learning difficulties.

It’s paid on top of any other grants you’re getting and is not based on your income. Speak to your college for more information.

Travel costs

Who’s it for?

Help with travel costs is available if you’re on an approved course, and eligibility varies from college to college, but if you have dependent children this grant can help with travel costs.

How much can I get?

This allowance is not based on income if you’re under 18 years old and eligible for EMA. Speak to your college for more information.

Discretionary funds

Who’s it for?

A discretionary fund is designed to help students who might struggle to get access to further education or continue their course due to financial problems, or help students get off benefits.

Every college runs a discretionary fund, and eligibility varies from college to college.

Higher bursary grant

Who’s it for?

This is for new and continuing care experienced students studying full-time.

How much can I get?

It is not income-assessed and pays up to £202.50 a week.

Financial support for further education in Wales

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

Who’s it for?

EMA is for students aged 16-18. To be eligible you need to be doing an eligible course and attending a participating college.

How much can I get?

EMA pays up to £30 every two weeks. It depends on your household income - as long as your household income is below £20,817, for households with one child in full-time education, or under £23,077, for households with more than one child in full-time education, you can qualify.

For more information on how to apply go to Student Finance Wales

Welsh Government Learning Grant for Further Education

Who’s it for?

This grant for students from families on low incomes. To qualify you must be:

  • aged 19 or over
  • be studying on an eligible course at a participating college
  • be studying on a course that lasts at least 275 hours
  • getting a qualification including a GCSE, A and AS Levels, BTEC, GNVQs, NVQs or Basic Skills.

How much can I get?

The grant, which doesn’t need to be paid back, is up to £1,500 for full-time students and up to £750 for part-time students. The exact amount depends on your household income.

Annual household income Grant for full-time student Grant for part-time student
Up to £6,120 £1,500 £750
£6,121-£12,235 £750 £450
£12,236-£18,370 £450 £300
£18,371 and over £0 £0
For more information on how to apply go to Student Finance Wales

Financial Contingency Funds (FCFs, sometimes called Student Support Funds or Student Hardship Funds)

The Welsh Government has a fund that supplies colleges in Wales with money that they can decide how to use to help students from poorer incomes.

The help can be given in the form of grants or loans, and can be used for things like childcare, transport cost or course equipment.

Who’s it for?

Eligibility varies from college to college, but often it’s for students with children and lone parents, care leavers and those on low income living in poorer areas. Speak to your college for more information.

The Thomas Wall Trust

Who’s it for?

To qualify for a grant from the Thomas Wall Trust you need to face a ‘barrier to employment or education’ and be aged 16 or over. There is quite a long list of criteria to meet, which can be found on the Thomas Wall Trust website.

How much can I get?

The grant offers up to £1,000.

Financial support for further education in Northern Ireland

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

Who’s it for?

You’ll qualify for EMA if your household income is below £20,500, for households with one child in full-time education, or under £22,500, for households with more than one child in full-time education, and you’re taking an eligible course.

How much can I get?

EMA pays up to £30 every two weeks to students aged 16-19.

Further Education awards

Who’s it for?

The Education Authority has a limited budget for funding students on approved courses up to Level 3. Students that are required to pay fees and need help to pay them may be eligible.

You also need to be aged 19 or over, and the amount you can get as a grant – which does not need to be paid back – depends on your household income.

How much can I get?

In 2018/19 you might be able to get the following in three instalments. Your attendance might affect your award:

Household income Living at parent’s home Living away from parent’s home
Up to £21,330 £1,674 £2,092
£21,331 - £26,160 £1,490 £1,863
£26,161 - £31,580 £1,306 £1,633
£31,581 - £38,805 £1,122 £1,402
£38,806 and over £0 £0

Care to learn

Care to learn is a grant – which does not have to be paid back – for help with childcare costs.

Who’s it for?
You need to be aged 16-19 and studying at a further education college, and be the main carer of your child or children. You can be under 19 years old at the start of your course as well.

Hardship funds

Who’s it for?

Every college in Northern Ireland has a Hardship fund. This for the students with financial problems. The exact criteria for eligibility varies from college to college.

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