Guidance

16 to 19 education: financial support for students

Advice for institutions on the financial support young people may be able to access to help them participate in education and training.

16 to 19 financial support

This is information for institutions. It shows the financial support young people may be able to get to help them take part in education and training.

16 to 19 financial support covers a number of schemes, often described as student support schemes:

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.

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.

Free meals in further education

  • provides meals for eligible young people if they or their parent get one of the qualifying benefits

Care to Learn

  • provides support with the costs of childcare for young parents in education
  • helps ensure young people who are parents are not prevented from taking part in education because of childcare costs

Residential Bursary Fund

  • funding given to institutions delivering specialist provision
  • helps institutions contribute to the costs of accommodation for students they assess as facing financial barriers to accessing their specialist provision

Residential Support Scheme

  • income-assessed support to help with the costs of accommodation for students who need to move away from home to study because the same or similar substantial level 2 or level 3 qualification within their study programme is not available locally to their home address

Dance and Drama Awards

  • income-assessed help with tuition fees and living costs at a small number of private dance and drama institutions in England
  • this funding ensures that income is not a barrier to the most talented young people accessing this specialist provision

16 to 19 Bursary Fund

The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is to support 16 to 19 year olds who are the most financially disadvantaged and those who most need help with the costs of staying in education.

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’).

Who can apply for a 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.

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. The defined groups reflect that 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 do not receive an allocation of funds for bursaries for vulnerable groups. They draw down the funds by submitting a funding claim form through the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS) portal.

Institutions must verify that young people meet the criteria for the bursary for vulnerable groups and assess how much bursary they need before submitting a funding claim.

Institutions may decide that although a young person may be eligible for a bursary because they are in one or more of the defined vulnerable groups, they do not have any actual financial need. This might be because their financial needs are already met and/or because they have no relevant costs. Institutions can refuse a student’s application on this basis. Similarly, students should only receive the amount they actually need to participate and institutions should not automatically award students £1,200 if they do not need the full amount.

Funding claims for bursaries for vulnerable groups in the 2020 to 2021 academic year are available online from 1 September 2020 via the SBSS portal.

Discretionary bursary

Institutions make discretionary bursary awards to students to help them overcome the individual barriers to participation they face. This means to help with the cost of travel, to buy essential books, equipment or specialist clothing (such as protective overalls, for example).

Institutions decide which students get a discretionary bursary and how much they will get. However, they should target students who cannot stay in education without financial help for things such as:

  • transport
  • meals
  • books
  • equipment

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. These will vary from student to student, depending on, for example, their household income, the distance they need to travel to the institution and the requirements of their study programme.

Information for institutions

We have published information to help institutions which includes:

  • the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund guide for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. The guide sets out the funding rules for the bursary fund and forms part of institutions’ ESFA funding agreements. Institutions must comply with the rules when setting their discretionary bursary policies, assessing individual student eligibility and need, and making payments
  • an audit guide to help local authorities gain assurance that institutions are administering the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund correctly

Free meals in further education

To be eligible for a free meal, students must have enrolled in further education provision funded via ESFA. Only the eligible institution types listed in the free meals guide receive free meals in further education funding. Other institutions that have both pre- and post-16 pupils such as school sixth forms, academies, free schools, non-maintained special schools (NMSS), UTCs and studio schools are required to provide free school meals (FSM) to all of their eligible pupils. They receive funding to provide benefits-based FSM to pupils who are in receipt of one of the eligible benefits.

Free meals are targeted 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.

A student is only eligible to receive a free meal when they, or a parent/guardian on their behalf, have made a successful application to their institution.

To be eligible for a free meal in the 2020 to 2021 academic year, students must be between 16 and 18 on 31 August 2020.

Students aged over 19 are eligible to apply if they have an EHC plan or are continuing on a course they started aged between 16 and 18 (a ‘19+ continuer’).

Institutions must provide a free meal to eligible students for each day that they attend their study programme, where this is appropriate.

We expect institutions to provide a meal free of charge to eligible students or to fund the free meal via an electronic credit or voucher the student can then redeem. This might be on or off-site where institutions have made arrangements with nearby food outlets.

Information for institutions

Care to Learn

Care to learn (C2L) helps 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 £160 per child per week or up to a maximum of £175 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.

Young parents must complete and submit a new C2L application for each academic year. Childcare providers and education institutions also need to provide information for each young parent who applies. Students submit applications online via the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS) online portal.

Applications for the 2020 to 2021 academic year are available from 7 May 2020.

Education institutions, childcare providers and providers of information, advice and guidance can call the SBSS provider helpline: 0330 303 8610.

Find out about call charges.

Information for institutions

Residential support

There are 2 schemes currently offering 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 2020 to 2021 academic year, students must be aged between 16 and 18 on 31 August 2020. 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

RBF provides financial help towards the costs of accommodation for students attending one of the designated institutions delivering specialist provision. Specialist provision is not available locally and/or requires the student to attend at unsociable hours on a regular basis and consequently the student needs to live away from home.

RBF 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. Mostly, this is land-based provision, such as agriculture or animal management. RBF is not designed to enable a student to participate in general further education provision that is widely available or to enable them to participate in additional activity, for example, to take part in a specific sport.

RBF provides a contribution towards residential costs for those students the institution identifies face the most significant financial barriers to participation. It is not intended to provide support to all students on residentially delivered provision at an institution; or necessarily to cover the full costs for each student.

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.

Information for institutions

  • Residential Bursary Fund guide for 2020 to 2021. The guide sets out the funding rules for RBF and forms part of institutions’ ESFA funding agreements. Institutions must comply with the rules, within the context of the RBF policies they set to manage the funds

Residential Support Scheme

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.

To receive RSS students must meet all the eligibility criteria.

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 they receive is based on their actual accommodation costs up to the maximum award thresholds.

Young people on apprenticeship programmes, or any education or training where they get a wage, are not eligible to apply for support.

Students should contact their institution for more advice and to apply.

Verification of qualifications

Institutions must verify the availability of each student’s substantial level 2 or level 3 qualification with ESFA. Institutions must not make any RSS awards until ESFA have confirmed whether the student is eligible.

Information for institutions

Dance and Drama Awards

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.

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive DaDA funding in the 2020 to 2021 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.

The most important criterion in allocating DaDA funding is for institutions to identify students with the most potential to succeed in the profession based on their talent as judged at audition. Institutions use nationally set household income bands to assess each student’s eligibility and the amount of support.

Information for institutions

  • DaDA scheme guide for the 2020 to 2021 academic year. This guide sets out the funding rules for DaDA and forms part on institutions’ ESFA funding agreements
  • students should contact their DaDA institution for further advice and information

Published Data

Care to Learn is intended to help young parents (defined as those aged under 20) to continue in education after the birth of a child. The ESFA provides funding towards childcare whilst the young parent is engaged in a study programme and is not able to provide care for their child. Care to Learn can also help with travel costs involved in taking the child to the childcare provider.

The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund provides financial support to help students overcome specific barriers to participation so they can remain in education. Education institutions receive an allocation to provide discretionary bursary support to students. In addition, students who meet the criteria, and who have a financial need, can apply for a bursary for vulnerable groups of up to £1,200 per year.

We have published the aggregate payments made to childcare providers and education institutions for both Care to Learn and the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund bursary for vulnerable groups.

Payments for Care to Learn and bursaries for vulnerable groups for academic years 2013 to 2014 through to 2016 to 2017

Enquiries

Institutions who would like more information about any of the student support schemes should contact:

ESFA enquiries

For all enquiries for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Published 4 February 2014
Last updated 30 April 2020 + show all updates
  1. We have updated our guidance for the 2020 to 2021 academic year

  2. We have updated our guidance on how providers can continue to support students throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

  3. We have included some additional information for institutions around changes to the discretionary bursary fund allocations methodology for 2020 to 2021

  4. Updated contact information for the Student Bursary Support Service (SBSS) added to the page

  5. Updated links added for 2017 to 2018.

  6. Updated to include 2016 to 2017 changes.

  7. A new section has been added under the heading the Student Bursary Support Service

  8. updated information on residential support scheme operational change

  9. Updated to include the Residential Support Scheme 2014 to 2015 guide

  10. Added 2014 to 2015 16 to 19 Bursary Fund guide to page

  11. First published.