Information for parents: Financial help with your child’s studies at school or college

Financial help for your child at school or college

There’s a range of financial support available to students learning at school or college, depending on their circumstances, as Chris Speedy explains.

What is a 16 to 19 Bursary?

If your child stays in learning at school or college, they may be able to get money to help with their studies from the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund at their school or college.

The 16 to 19 Bursary is aimed at students who need financial help so that they can stay in learning. Money from the fund is given out by individual schools and colleges to students who they consider are in need of help.

Students who are most in need will be eligible to receive a bursary of up to £1200 a year. This group includes:

  • young people in care, or care leavers
  • people claiming income support
  • disabled young people receiving Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance 

For other young people facing financial difficulty, the school or college will decide whether to award a bursary, and how much.

See more on the 16 to 19 Bursary.


Can they get any other help with money or course fees?

If they stay on at a Local Education Authority (LEA) school, academy or further education college and are under the age of 19, they will not have to pay any course fees. You will continue to get child benefit or any other benefits you already receive for them.

Once they are over the age of 19 they may have to pay course fees, so they should bear this in mind if they choose to delay going into further education.

There are other sorts of financial help which can sometimes be available to help students with living and learning costs. As well as the 16 to 19 Bursary they might be able to get help with travel costs, and there are also some specialist funds, like Dance and Drama Awards, for students who want to study particular subjects.

Find out more about Further education courses and funding.


Can they get Income Support or other benefits while studying?

Normally, 16 to 19 year olds at school or college cannot get Income Support, but there are some exceptions. For example, they may be able to get help if they are the parent of a child who lives with them, or they don’t live with a parent or someone acting as a parent.

Find out more about Income Support or contact Jobcentre Plus.


How much could they earn on an Apprenticeship?

If they are on an Apprenticeship they will be entitled to the National Minimum Wage for apprentices.

This is £2.65 per hour from 1 October 2012. If their Apprenticeship is full-time this would be an average of around £97 a week.

This rate is for apprentices under 19 or those in their first year. If you’re 19 or over and past your first year you get the rate that applies to your age – currently £4.98 or £6.19 (see next section).

Many apprentices earn significantly more than the legal minimum, with the average Apprenticeship wage standing at £170 per week.


How much could they earn if they get a job?

The Government sets a National Minimum Wage for workers. You are entitled to this whether you work full-time, part-time, on a casual basis, from home, for an agency or on a short term contract.

You are not entitled to this if you are self-employed. From 1 October 2012, the National Minimum Wage rates are:

  • £2.65 per hour for young people on an Apprenticeship
  • £3.68 per hour for 16 and 17 year-olds in a job
  • £4.98 for 18 to 20 year-olds in a job
  • £6.19 for those aged 21 and over


Find out more about Your pay, tax and the National Minimum Wage or by call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368.


Do they need to open a bank or building society account?

If they start work, or need to claim any benefits, they will need to open a bank or building society account. Most employers will pay their wages directly into their bank or building society account, on a weekly or monthly basis. Benefits like Income Support are also paid directly to their account.

They should shop around before they make a decision about an account, as banks and building societies may have different interest rates and different rules about how you can get access to your money. Some may offer vouchers or other gifts for opening an account.
Before they decide on an account they should:

  • Find out how easy it will be to access their money. Will they have a cash point or debit card? Is there a branch of the bank nearby? Do they want to use telephone or Internet banking?
  • Ask friends and family which banks or building societies they use and what type of account. What do they like or dislike about them?
  • Think about how they want to use the account — do they want to take money out every day, or save for something in the future?


They can get more advice on opening a bank or building society account by visiting the Money Advice Service.

Income Tax and National Insurance

If they are employed, they will usually pay Income Tax on their wages. Income Tax is a percentage of their wages and normally comes directly out of their salary before they receive it. This will be shown on their payslip as PAYE — Pay As You Earn.

Their employer should take care of deducting and paying this tax for them, so they don’t normally have to do anything else about it. National Insurance (NI) is another payment that is automatically deducted from their salary by their employer.

They will only start to pay National Insurance when they earn more than £146 per week, (2012-2013 tax year rates) so if they work part-time they may not have to pay it

As they approach their 16th birthday, they will usually be sent a National Insurance number notification letter with their unique number on. Keep this safe, as they will need this number for lots of different things — for example when they apply for a job or benefits.

If they are over 16 and haven’t had an NI number they will need to telephone the National Insurance Registrations Helpline on 0845 915 7006 (8.30am-5.00pm, Monday to Friday).



They should receive a weekly or monthly payslip from their employer with details of how much they have been paid and how much Income Tax and National Insurance has been taken out. They should get this even if they are part-time, on a probationary period or in training. If they’ve got questions about payslips, they can visit Payslips: your rights.


Young parents

If they’re a young parent, they may also be able to get help with childcare costs while they are in education or training. Care to Learn is a scheme run by the government, which provides help with childcare costs so that young parents can stay in education or work-based learning.

They could receive up to £160 per week to pay for childcare. To receive Care to Learn they must be caring for their own child or children and be under 20 on the day their course or learning programme starts.

Care to Learn can be claimed by fathers or mothers. If they claim any benefits, they will still receive these as well as Care to Learn money. Find out more about Care to Learn or call the Learner Support helpline on 0800 121 8989.


Chris Speedy has more than 30 years experience in careers advice and is currently a Consultant Careers Adviser. This article is from his website Careers Advice for Parents and Young People.


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