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Financial support for further education

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

Benefits if you’re in further education

The benefits you might be able to claim if you’re in further education depends on if you’re studying full-time or part-time.

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Financial support for further education in England

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

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Advanced Learner Loans

How will I pay back the loan?

You don’t have to pay any of your loan back until you’ve started earning over £27,295 a year. Repayments are set at 9% of your income above the minimum of £27,295 a year (£2,274 a month or £524 a week).

You’ll be charged interest at the Retail Price Index (RPI) + 3% while you complete your course and until the following April after leaving your course. After that, interest is linked to your earnings. Payments will stop if you earn below the repayment threshold for that pay period.

If you leave or change course after two weeks or more, you’ll have to pay back any money that was paid to your college or training provider.

Any outstanding balance is automatically written off 30 years after your scheduled qualification end date.

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Learner Support

Who’s it for?

You need to be over 19 and studying on a course funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency – you can check with your provider to see if you can access this for your course. Your college might 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 for Learner Support if you’re already getting student finance, such as a student loan, or are on a Community Learning course. If you have an Advanced Learner Loan, you might be able to get assistance from your provider through the Advanced Learner Loans Bursary Fund.

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. It might help towards your travel costs or childcare, for example.

You need to be 20 years old to get help with childcare costs – if you’re 19 or under you might qualify for a Care to Learn grant for help with childcare costs (see below). You apply for Learner Support through your course provider.

The money can then be:

  • paid directly to you, so you won’t need to pay it back, or
  • loaned to you, which means you will have to pay it back, depending on the purpose.
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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 qualify, you need to:

  • be aged under 20 years old when your course starts
  • be living and studying in England
  • using a childcare provider that’s registered with Ofsted, which can be a childminder, preschool group, day nursery or an out of school club.
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How much can I get?

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

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Residential Support Scheme and Residential Bursary Fund

These 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 institution, for example, one specialising in animal management, and the Residential Support Scheme for studying everywhere else if a course is not available locally to you.

To qualify for either you’ll need to be aged 16 to 18 years old on 31 August 2020 for the 2020/21 academic year and meet residency criteria, which your college can check for you.

If you’re 19 years old you might qualify, but you need to be continuing a course you started when you were aged 16 to 18 years old, or have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Who’s the Residential Bursary Fund for?

To qualify for the Residential Bursary Fund, you also need to be:

  • at a specialist institution 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.

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Who’s the Residential Support Scheme for?

To qualify 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 government, isn't available locally to you and is more than either 15 miles or a two-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

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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 (three years)
  • Level 5 Diploma in Professional Acting (one year)
  • Level 5 Diploma in Professional Dance (Classical Ballet or Contemporary Dance) (two years)
  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Dance (three years)
  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre (three 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

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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 qualify for this bursary you need to be:

  • aged 16 and under 19 on 31 August 2020 for the 2020/21 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 funding is either given as a bursary for those in defined vulnerable groups or as a discretionary bursary. A vulnerable bursary is paid at a maximum of £1,200 for students who:

  • have recently left local authority care, or
  • are financially supporting themselves and in receipt of specific benefits.
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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.

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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 a week (2020/21). 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're 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

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Adult Dependants' Grant (Dependant’s Allowance)

Who’s it for and how much can I get?

If you're 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 2020/21. Even if you qualify, you might not be able to get it as funds are limited.

It's 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 for childcare funds 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.

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Additional support needs for learning allowance

Who’s it for?

This is to help you cover any extra costs because of a 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.

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Financial support for further education in Wales

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

Who’s it for?

EMA is for students aged 16-18. To qualify 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 – you qualify if 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.

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Welsh Government Learning Grant for Further Education

Who’s it for?

This grant is 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 up to level 3 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

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

The Welsh Government allocates FCFs to colleges in Wales to help students to access or remain in further education if they face difficulties or are in hardship.

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.

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.

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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 doesn't need to be paid back – depends on your household income.

How much can I get?

In 2020/21, you might be able to get the following in three instalments. Your attendance might affect your award:

Table
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

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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 also claim this if you were under 19 years old at the start of your course as well.

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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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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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