Advice for institutions on the financial support young people may be able to access to help them participate in education and training.
Applies to England
16 to 19 financial support
This is a high-level summary of the financial support students aged 16 to 19 might be able to get to help them to take part in education and training.
We have provided links to all the scheme guides (funding rules) in the relevant sections within this guide. It is important that institutions read the funding rules for the relevant academic years for full information about eligibility, funding purposes and their roles and responsibilities.
16 to 19 Bursary Fund
The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund provides financial support to help students overcome specific barriers to participation so they can remain in education.
Institutions must follow the rules set out in our 16 to 19 Bursary Fund guide . The guide forms part of institutions’ ESFA funding agreements.
Local authorities should read our audit guide to help them gain assurance that institutions are administering the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund correctly
Students aged over 19 can apply for the discretionary bursary if they have an Education, Health, and Care (EHC) plan or are continuing on a course they started aged between 16 and 18 (a ‘19+ continuer’).
There are 2 types of 16 to 19 bursaries:
- bursaries for defined vulnerable groups
- discretionary bursaries which institutions award using policies they set, in line with national funding rules
Both types of bursary funding are designed to help students overcome the individual financial barriers to participation that they face, and institutions must ensure the funds go to those who genuinely need them.
Bursaries for students in defined vulnerable groups
Students who meet the criteria, and who have a financial need, can apply for a bursary for vulnerable groups. These students are unlikely to be receiving financial assistance from parents or carers, so may need a greater level of support to enable them to continue to participate.
The defined vulnerable groups are students who are:
- in care
- care leavers
- receiving Income Support, or Universal Credit because they are financially supporting themselves or financially supporting themselves and someone who is dependent on them and living with them such as a child or partner
- receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments in their own right as well as Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit in their own right
Institutions must verify that students meet the criteria in full and that they have a financial need. They should then award each student the amount of support they actually need based on their costs, not a fixed or flat rate amount.
Institutions make discretionary bursary awards to students to help them overcome individual barriers to participation. This means to help with the cost of travel, to buy essential books, equipment, or specialist clothing (such as protective overalls, for example).
As with the bursary for defined vulnerable groups, institutions must base all decisions about which students receive a discretionary bursary and how much bursary they receive on each student’s individual circumstances, and their actual financial need.
Free meals in further education
To be eligible for a free meal, students must have enrolled in further education provision funded via ESFA.
Institutions must follow the rules set out in our free meals in further education funded institutions guide. We only provide free meals in further education funding to the eligible institution types listed in this guide.
Institutions should target free meals at disadvantaged students. For the purposes of free meals eligibility, the definition of disadvantage is students being in receipt of, or having parents who are in receipt of, one or more of the qualifying benefits listed in the free meals guide.
A student is only eligible to receive a free meal when they, or a parent or guardian on their behalf, has successfully applied to their institution.
Care to Learn
Care to learn (C2L) helps to ensure young people who are parents are not prevented from taking part in education because of childcare costs.
Institutions and childcare providers must follow the rules set out in our care to learn guide. We explain the application process in the guide.
C2L provides support with the costs of childcare for young parents under the age of 20 to continue in and return to education after the birth of a child. It does this by providing funding for childcare whilst the young parent is studying.
The scheme can provide up to a maximum total amount of support of £180 per child per week or up to a maximum of £195 per child per week in London.
The young parent’s study programme must have some direct public funding.
C2L will only fund childcare provision registered with Ofsted.
Young parents, their education institution and their childcare provider must all meet the eligibility criteria to receive C2L.
There are 2 schemes that can provide support with accommodation costs for students:
- the Residential Bursary Fund (RBF) provides financial help for students attending an institution delivering specialist provision
- the Residential Support Scheme (RSS) provides financial help for students who need to live away from home to study because the same or similar substantial level 2 or level 3 qualification within their study programme is not available within daily travelling distance
To be eligible to apply for either scheme in the 2023 to 2024 academic year, students must be aged between 16 and 18 on 31 August 2023. Students aged over 19 are eligible to apply if they have an EHCP or are continuing on a course they started aged between 16 and 18 (a ‘19+ continuer’).
Residential Bursary Fund
Institutions must follow the rules set out in our guide. RBF provides:
- financial help towards the costs of accommodation for students attending a designated institution delivering specialist provision
- enables young people to gain a substantial qualification in a specialist subject that they would not be able to get at a non-specialist institution for example agriculture or animal management
- contributes towards residential costs for those students the institution identifies face the most significant financial barriers to participation
Institutions decide which students get RBF and how much support they receive. Institutions must target funds towards those facing the most significant financial barriers to participation.
Students should contact their institution for more advice and to apply.
Residential Support Scheme (RSS)
RSS is designed for the exceptional situations where the same or similar substantial level 2 or level 3 qualification the student wishes to study cannot be accessed locally. Most students supported by RSS tend to live in rural areas and have limited access to a wide range of 16 to 18 further education provision.
Institutions must follow the rules set out in our guide. They must verify the availability of each student’s substantial level 2 or level 3 qualification with us as part of the application process. Institutions must not make any RSS awards until we have confirmed whether the student is eligible.
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 eligible, the amount they receive is based on their actual accommodation costs up to the maximum award thresholds.
Students should contact their institution for more advice and to apply.
Dance and Drama Awards
Institutions must follow the rules set out in our guide. DaDA funding offers income assessed support for tuition fees and living costs at a number of high-quality private dance and drama institutions in England. The intention of DaDA funding is to provide a contribution to the costs of participating for talented individuals who want to become professional actors and dancers.
To be eligible to receive DaDA funding in the 2023 to 2024 academic year, students must be aged between 16 and 23 years old at the start of the academic year (for a dance course) and between 18 and 23 years old at the start of the academic year (for an acting course).
Only students enrolled on the Trinity College London (TCL) Level 5 and 6 Professional Diplomas in Dance, Acting and Musical Theatre at one of the institutions that are part of the DaDA scheme are eligible to apply for funding.
Students should contact their DaDA institution for further advice and information.
We have published the aggregate payments made to childcare providers and education institutions in the 16 to 19 ESFA payments for Care to Learn and Bursary Fund for students in defined vulnerable groups schemes guidance.
If you need support after reading our guidance, please contact us using our online enquiry form.