Guidance

16 to 18 Residential Support Scheme for academic year 2016 to 2017

Guidance for all institutions with Residential Support Scheme funding allocations in the 2016 to 2017 academic year.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This page relates to the 2016 to 2017 academic year. Please visit our student support page for the latest information.

Introduction

Institutions must ensure Residential Support Scheme (RSS) expenditure is appropriate and in line with the scheme rules set out in this guide. RSS may only be used to support accommodation costs for residential students who cannot gain their substantial qualification within daily travelling distance of their home address.

Information for the 2016 to 2017 academic year

In the 2015 to 2016 academic year, the RSS delivery model changed from a nationally managed applications model to an allocation based model. Previously, the nationally administered model required institutions to verify local availability of the substantial qualification with each student’s home local authority. This process was cumbersome and resulted in inconsistent decisions being taken about which students were and were not eligible for RSS. In the 2015 to 2016 academic year, the process was changed so verification was undertaken directly by Education Funding Agency (EFA). This has made the process simpler for institutions and eligibility decisions more consistent.

This delivery model will remain in place for the 2016 to 2017 academic year.

There is no change to RSS policy in the 2016 to 2017 academic year. The scheme will continue to provide financial help with residential costs for eligible students living away from home because the substantial Level 2 or Level 3 qualification that is part of their study programme is not available locally.

Institutions may use up to 5% of their RSS allocation to cover scheme administrative costs.

RSS policy and eligibility in the 2016 to 2017 academic year

RSS is to help support students aged 16 to 18 with the costs of living away from home to participate in a study programme where the substantial Level 2 or Level 3 qualification that is part of the programme is not available locally to their home address.

RSS is available to students who intend to follow a full-time study programme including either a first full Level 2 or first full Level 3 substantial qualification/s. The programme must be directly 16 to 19 funded by EFA. Provision delivered by institutions which have a sub-contracting relationship with an EFA funded institution is not eligible.

In order to receive RSS support students must meet all the eligibility criteria set out in this guide.

RSS can provide annual support of up to £3,458 (up to £4,079 in the London area) towards accommodation costs. If the student is assessed as eligible, the amount of award they receive is based on their actual accommodation costs up to the maximum award thresholds.

Young people on waged apprenticeship programmes, or any education or training where a wage is being drawn, are not eligible to apply for support.

Student eligibility

To be eligible for RSS support in the 2016 to 2017 academic year, a student must meet the following criteria:

Age

The student must be aged at least 16 and under 19 on 31 August 2016. Where a student turns 19 during the academic year, they can continue to be supported to the end of the academic year.

Residency

The student must satisfy the residency criteria set out in the 2016 to 2017 academic year EFA Funding Regulations.

Household income

Students must have a household income of £30,993 or less in the previous tax year. For the 2016 to 2017 academic year this is the 2015 to 2016 tax year. The household is defined as the student and the adults they live with who are mainly responsible for them.

The amount of RSS awarded to an individual must be based on an income-assessment which uses the following thresholds:

Gross income level Up to £21, 000 £21,001 - £25,704 £25,705 - £30,993 £30,994 and over
Maximum RSS award - outside London £3,458 £2,305 £1,152 nil
Maximum RSS award - inside London * £4,079 £2,685 £1,355 nil

These amounts are the maximum available for each income bracket and students should not receive the maximum if the actual cost of their accommodation is less than the figures shown. If the study programme lasts for less than one year then the amount of support should be awarded on a proportional basis.

Students cannot receive RSS if they are in receipt of housing benefit.

London boroughs eligible for the London weighting

*The following London Boroughs are eligible for the London weighting: Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney & City of London, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond-upon-Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Westminster.

Study programmes

Students must have been offered a place on a full-time study programme including either a first full Level 2 or first full Level 3 substantial qualification/s. The programme must be directly 16 to 19 funded by EFA. The local availability of the substantial qualification for each student must be verified with EFA before eligibility for RSS is confirmed. Study programmes delivered by institutions that have a sub-contracting relationship with an EFA funded institution are not eligible for RSS funding.

Institutions should refer to EFA Funding Regulations for the 2016 to 2017 academic year for further information.

The full Level 2 or full Level 3 substantial qualification should normally be the student’s first qualification at those levels. However, support for repeat qualifications may be offered in exceptional circumstances, for example, if a student:

  • wishes to pursue a second Level 2 which is vocational where their first Level 2 was an academic qualification
  • holds a Level 2 qualification but is required by the institution to undertake a further specific Level 2, in order to progress into the necessary Level 3 element of the programme
  • is planning to enter higher education and a second level 3 qualification is specified as part of the entry requirement

It is the responsibility of institutions to assess where exceptions to the first full Level 2 or first full Level 3 substantial qualification criteria are appropriate. Any such support must be a genuine exception; EFA does not expect such support to be given from RSS funding on a routine basis. Institutions should refer to EFA if they have any doubts about particular cases.

Substantial qualification which is not available within reasonable daily travelling distance

The substantial Level 2 or Level 3 qualification that is part of the student’s study programme must not be available within reasonable daily travelling distance of the student’s home address. For the purposes of RSS eligibility, the key element of the study programme is the substantial qualification that is being funded by EFA, not the study programme as a whole/the combination of different modules within it. If the substantial qualification is available within daily travelling distance the student is not eligible for RSS funding.

Reasonable daily travelling distance is defined as a daily return journey that takes 2 hours or less on public transport; or a distance of under 15 miles from the student’s home or term-time lodgings to the institution.

RSS applications

Students must apply for RSS in each academic year they require support from the scheme. This is to enable the institution to re-confirm that the student still meets the household income criterion.

Where a student has changed from their original study programme, ie from the substantial qualification the institution verified with EFA, the institution will need to ask EFA to verify whether the student remains eligible for RSS for the new substantial qualification. For students who are continuing on a substantial qualification already verified with EFA (returning for their second or subsequent year), no further verification of the qualification is needed.

Students must have an unconditional offer of a place before they submit an application to the institution for RSS support. Applications may be made after the student has started their study programme but awards may only be backdated to the beginning of the term in which they made the application.

Students should apply for RSS directly from the institution. Institutions should develop an application form which students can complete to seek RSS funding. They may wish to continue to use the example application form provided by EFA in the 2015 to 2016 academic year (updated for the new academic year as appropriate) or use/develop an alternative application form. All application forms used for RSS must capture all the information required to assess the student against the eligibility requirements set out in this guide.

It is important for audit purposes that the student and responsible adult(s) sign and date the RSS application form.

Institutions should ensure that a copy of the student’s tenancy agreement has been included with the application form. This must have been agreed and signed and include the following information:

  • the student’s name
  • the student’s term time address
  • the dates of the tenancy
  • the cost of the rent
  • the landlord’s name, address and signature (please note: the landlord cannot be related to the student)

The student’s term time lodgings must be no further than 15 miles from campus.

No RSS payments should be released until all of the required information/evidence has been supplied and the application has been fully assessed, including confirmation from EFA that the student meets the criterion for the substantial qualification.

Institutions must ensure that payments are made directly to eligible students’ landlords for their rental costs. Proof of payment should be retained for audit purposes. Payments must not be made to students.

As an exception, in a scenario where a student has already paid some of their rent, prior to their RSS application being approved, institutions may refund their costs, as long as the rental period they have paid for is within the agreed period of the RSS award. Proof of payment must be retained.

Verification of the student’s substantial qualification

New Students

Institutions may choose to verify eligibility of a new student’s substantial qualification with EFA before they have assessed the student against the other eligibility criteria or afterwards. Institutions may prefer to send one list of all new students seeking RSS funding for verification but requests to verify one individual may also be sent. It is helpful for institutions to submit the course verification form as soon as possible in the academic year to ensure students do not make financial commitments in the expectation of RSS funding.

All institutions with an RSS allocation for the 2016 to 2017 academic year will be sent a new student course verification form prior to the start of the academic year.

Institutions must complete and return the form provided by EFA to seek verification of substantial qualifications for all new students. The form requires institutions to provide:

  • each student’s name, home postcode, Unique Learner Number and Individualised Learner Record number
  • the institution name, delivery location postcode and UPIN
  • the qualification reference number and qualification title of the substantial Level 2 or Level 3 qualification the student is following as part of their study programme. Any application without the qualification reference number cannot be verified and will be returned to the institution

The verification form confirms the email address to which it should be sent - Enquiries.EFA@education.gsi.gov.uk.

On receipt of the verification form, EFA will assess whether the substantial Level 2 or 3 qualifications each student is enrolled on is available within daily travelling distance of their home address. It is the availability of the substantial EFA funded qualification - not the study programme as a whole - that will determine whether the student meets the criterion.

Confirmation of eligibility or a rejection letter will be sent to the institution within 7 working days. Institutions must retain a copy of EFA’s response as part of their auditable records.

The local availability of the substantial qualification for each student must be verified with EFA before eligibility for RSS is confirmed. Institutions must not make any payments before eligibility has been confirmed by EFA.

RSS funding for a student’s accommodation costs may only be released by institutions when EFA has verified that the substantial qualification is not available locally. If the student transfers or fails to attend the agreed provision RSS funding should be withdrawn immediately. This action should be documented and included in the October MI return.

Where EFA rejects an application because the substantial qualification is available within daily travelling distance, the institution must reject the student’s application. No RSS payments can be made to any students who have not been confirmed as eligible by EFA.

Continuing students

If a student is returning to the second or subsequent year of their study programme and is continuing on the same qualification into their second year, the institution does not need to seek EFA verification again. Continuing student will still need to meet the household income criterion.

The course verification form for the 2016 to 2017 academic year includes a second pre-populated sheet which institutions must use to notify EFA that students have returned as planned.

Payments

RSS will be paid to institutions in 3 instalments: 50% in August 2016, 25% in December 2016 and 25% in March 2017.

Allocations

Allocations have been generated by using the information submitted by institutions on the 2015 to 2016 academic year course verification proforma. The methodology takes account of the number of eligible students who received RSS support and who will be returning in the 2016 to 2017 academic year multiplied by the maximum permitted funding amount per student (as set out in the Household Income section of this guide). An amount of funding has then been added to this total to make funds available for any eligible new students in the 2016 to 2017 academic year.

Only institutions with new RSS supported students in the 2015 to 2016 academic year have been given a funding allocation.

Institutions without an RSS allocation in the 2016 to 2017 academic year that are approached by a student for help with residential costs should follow the normal EFA business case process to request an allocation. The business case should provide the student(s) home postcode and details of their substantial Level 2 or 3 qualifications (including qualification reference number) to enable EFA to check if the student is eligible (subject to the institution’s assessment of their household income etc).

Institutions should use the funding allocated to them for RSS solely to support eligible students with residential costs in line with the RSS scheme rules. The funding cannot be used for any other purpose.

Data and management information requirements

EFA will ask institutions to complete a short management information return in October to report the number of new and returning students who received RSS and the amount of funding spent. As is the case with the residential bursary fund, any unspent funds will be recovered. Data supplied in this return will be crucial to the generation of future allocations.

In the longer term, EFA will use data from the ILR (Learner Funding and Monitoring (FAM); learner support reason) to identify students who have been assessed as eligible for RSS and who have taken up the funding to generate subsequent allocations. Institutions are strongly encouraged to complete these fields. EFA will review data periodically throughout the year including R14. This information will enable the development of RSS policy and help target RSS funding.

Audit requirements

Institutions should maintain accurate and up to date records to evidence which students get RSS funding; show that students are eligible for funding and show appropriate use of funds. The sections on RSS applications and verification of the student’s substantial qualification also highlight a number of points for institutions to consider.

The administration and allocation of RSS is subject to the institution’s normal governance and audit regimes. RSS funding is also subject to EFA checks using data submitted as part of the RSS process (to verify student eligibility) and external visits as part of the normal assurance arrangements for 16 to 19 education and training. Institutions should note that, following an audit/check, funding may be recovered where RSS payments are found not to have been made in accordance with this guide.

Further information

Institutions who would like further information about RSS in the 2016 to 2017 academic year, should contact:

ESFA enquiries

For all enquiries for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Published 4 April 2016