Financial support for further education students

Financial support for further education studentsFind out about the help you can get with the cost of an FE course.

Course fees

If you’re under 24 and you don’t already have qualifications equivalent to GCSE or A-level, then you won’t have to pay. There are also courses in essential subjects like English and maths that you don’t have to pay for.

If you are over 24, you can apply for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan. This means that you don’t have to pay your fees up front, and you won’t have to start repaying the loan until you have finished your course and are earning more than £21,000 a year. If you go on to university, then your Advanced Learning Loan will be combined with your university student loan, so you’ll only have to make one monthly repayment.

16-19 bursary

If you’re aged 16-19 and studying at school or college or on a training course that you’re not being paid for, you might be able to get this bursary to help with your day-to-day costs. There are two kinds of 16-19 bursary: the vulnerable student bursary and the discretionary bursary.

The vulnerable student bursary is worth up to £1,200 per year. Exactly how much you get will depend on your expenses, the length of your course and whether you study full or part-time. It’s available to:

  • Care leavers
  • People who get Income Support or Universal Credit
  • People who get Employment and Support Allowance and either Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Your school, college or training provider decides who they want to give discretionary bursaries to, so you will need to ask the student services department about who qualifies.

Find out more about the 16-19 bursary.

Discretionary Learner Support (for people over 19)

Discretionary Learner Support (DLS) is financial support for FE students over 19 who are having financial problems. It could be in the form of a grant that you don’t have to pay back or a loan.

Your school, college or training provider decides who they want to give DLS to, so you will need to ask the student services department about who qualifies.

Find out more about Discretionary Learner Support.

Professional and career development loans (PCDLs)

These are commercial loans of up to £10,000 specifically for courses that will help your career. They can be used for courses of up to two years, or three if the course includes a year’s work experience.

The difference from other loans is that the government pays for the interest until a month after you finish your course. After that, you start repaying the loan and interest. PCDL aren’t like student loans: you’ll have to make repayments once your course ends however much you are earning.

Not all course providers qualify, so check with them before you sign up.

Find out more about PCDLs.

Residential Support Scheme

If you’re under 19 at the start of your course and you need to study away from home for GCSEs, A-levels or equivalent courses, you might be able to get help from the Residential Support Scheme. How much you get depends on your household income and accommodation costs, but it could be up to £3,458, or £4,079 if you study in London.

You’ll only qualify if the course is based more than 15 miles from your home, or more than a two hour return journey, and it isn’t available at a different college closer to home.

Find out more about the Residential Support Scheme.

Care to Learn – help with childcare costs

If you are under 20 and you have children, you can get help with the cost of childcare while you are at school or college. You can get up to £160 per child per week, or £175 if you live in London. How much you get will depend on your actual childcare costs, and the money will be paid directly to your childcare provider.

As well as the childcare fees, you can also get help with the transport cost to take your child to childcare. The money for this will go to your school or college, so you will have to discuss the travel with them: they will either arrange it for you or pass the money on so you can do it yourself.

Find out more about Care to Learn.

Dance and Drama Awards

If you’re going to a private dance or drama school, you might be able to get a Dance and Drama Award (DaDA) to help with both fees and living costs. You need to be over 16 to get a DaDA for a dance course, and over 18 for an acting course. How much you get depends on your household income, but could be up to £4,550, or £5,185 if you live in London – plus full payment of your fees.

Find out more about DaDAs and see which schools they are available from.

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