Advice for young people: 16 to 19 Bursary Fund guide
Guidance for young people about the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund in the 2017 to 2018 academic year.
The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is money the government has given to local authorities, schools, colleges and other education and training providers (education institutions) to give to students who need financial help to stay in education.
There are 2 types of 16 to 19 bursaries:
- a vulnerable bursary of up to £1,200 a year for young people in one of the defined vulnerable groups listed below
- discretionary bursaries that institutions award to meet individual needs. For example, for transport, meals, books and equipment
Your education institution is responsible for managing both types of bursary.
If you are in one of the groups below, you can apply for a vulnerable bursary:
- in care
- care leaver
- getting Income Support or Universal Credit in place of Income Support in your own name
- getting Employment Support Allowance (or Universal Credit in place of ESA) and Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments in your own name
How much will I be paid if I’m eligible?
You could get up to £1,200 if you study full time for a minimum of 30 weeks. If your course is only for a few hours a week or less than 30 weeks, you will get less.
It’s important to remember you won’t necessarily get £1,200 if you’re in one of the specific vulnerable groups. The bursary fund is designed to help you with the costs of attending your course, so if you don’t have costs, for example, you’re a residential student who doesn’t travel, and all your meals and equipment are provided, you could get less than £1,200 or nothing at all. Your institution will consider your circumstances when you apply and will explain any decision they make to you.
Proof you’re eligible for a vulnerable bursary
Your institution will need proof that you are eligible. They will tell you what they need from you.
For example, this could be:
- a letter from your local authority showing you’re in care or a care leaver
- a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions showing the benefits you get
Benefits that qualify for a vulnerable bursary
Benefits must be in your own name to get a vulnerable bursary.
If you don’t get them in your own name, you won’t get a vulnerable bursary. Instead you may be able to apply for a discretionary bursary from your education institution.
As a young carer you won’t get a vulnerable bursary, unless you fall into one of the specific vulnerable groups. You can apply for help for a discretionary bursary. Your education institution will use the information you give them confidentially so you can talk to them about your caring responsibilities when you’re applying for help.
If you’re a young parent in one of the specific vulnerable groups, for example, you’re getting Income Support or Universal Credit in your own name you may get a vulnerable bursary. If you’re not in one of the specific groups you may be able to apply for a discretionary bursary.
You can also get help with childcare costs through Care to Learn.
If you aren’t in one of the specific vulnerable groups, but you need financial help to stay in education, you can apply for a discretionary bursary from your education institution.
To apply you must be aged 16 or over but under 19 (see the eligibility section for some more detail about 19 year olds) and in full or part time further education or training.
Your education institution is responsible for setting the criteria they use for discretionary bursaries. The criteria they use will focus on making sure bursary funds are targeted at students who need the most help to stay in education.
Examples of what their criteria could be based on include:
- your family’s income
- if your parents get benefits
- if you currently receive free school meals or have had them in the past
How much you get is up to your institution. They decide who gets a bursary, how much, when it’s paid and how it’s paid. They can also say what you should spend it on.
Your education institution may ask for evidence of your family’s household income when you apply. Examples of what they might ask for include:
- a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions showing receipt of benefits
- a P60
- a Tax Credit Award Notice
- evidence of your family’s annual income
- 3 months’ worth of payslips or bank account statements
Your institution will let you know what you need to show them.
Impact on DWP benefits
Bursary fund payments don’t affect your right to Department of Work and Pensions income-related benefits (like Income Support, for example).
However, if you’re getting Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments and Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit, your parents can’t get certain benefits (like child benefit) for you.
Help to pay for one-off things
Some education institutions offer one-off payments for things like educational trips or to attend university interviews. This might be in addition to help with longer-term costs for things like bus fares. Ask your institution for more information.
To get either of the 2 bursaries in the 2017 to 2018 academic year you must meet the conditions for your age and residency. Your study must also meet some conditions.
You must be aged:
- 16 or over at 31 August 2017
- under 19 at 31 August 2017
If you’re aged over 19 you won’t be eligible for the bursary unless you fall into one of 2 categories:
- you have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
- you’re continuing on a course you started when you were aged between 16 and 18 (this is sometimes referred to as being a ‘19+ continuer’)
If you have a EHCP or are a 19+ continuer you should talk to your education institution to see if you get a discretionary bursary while you continue to attend education.
Other students aged over 19 may be able to get other support for older/adult students. Your education institution will tell you what you can apply for.
Students aged 19 or over are not able to get the vulnerable student bursary.
You must meet the residency conditions to get a bursary. Your institution will check this.
Resident of Scotland
If you live in Scotland and travel to England to study, you should contact your home local authority in Scotland to apply for Scottish EMA. You can’t get the bursary fund.
If you live in England and travel to Scotland to study, you should contact your home local authority in England to apply for a bursary. You can’t get Scottish EMA.
If you’re from England and live in Scotland temporarily to study, for example at a residential college, you will be treated as a Scottish resident and should apply to the local authority in Scotland where your college is based for EMA. You can’t get the bursary fund.
Residents of Wales
If you live in Wales and travel to England to study, you should contact the local authority where you live to apply for Welsh EMA.
You may also apply to your institution for a discretionary bursary. You can’t get a vulnerable bursary.
If you live in England and travel to Wales to study, the support you can apply for depends on the type of institution you’re attending:
- if you attend an FE college you should apply for discretionary student support from your college (this is the Welsh institution’s Financial Contingency Fund)
- if you attend a special college or school sixth-form you should approach the local authority where you live in England to apply for a discretionary bursary
All students who live in England and travel to Wales to study who are in one of the specific vulnerable groups, can apply for a vulnerable bursary. If this applies to you, you should contact your local authority in England to apply.
You must be studying at an education institution that’s inspected by a public body that checks quality, such as Ofsted.
It must also be either:
- funded by Education Funding Agency directly or via a local authority
- funded or co-financed by the European Social Fund
- otherwise publicly funded and lead to a qualification (up to level 3) accredited by Ofqual or is pursuant to Section 96 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000
- a 16 to 19 traineeship programme
Your institution will tell you if your course meets this condition.
Studying part time
You can be studying full or part time. Your institution will look at the amount of time you’re studying when they’re deciding if you will get a payment and how much you will get.
If you’re studying on a publicly funded distance learning course you might not have the kind of costs the bursary fund is designed to cover such as transport, equipment and uniforms.
If you do want to apply, you should talk to your education institution. They will look at your individual case and let you know if you might be eligible for help.
The bursary is for students in further education or training. There is separate support for higher education students.
Independent (private) institutions
If you go to an independent institution that charges fees, you won’t normally get a bursary. However, if you’ve been referred to the institution by your local authority and they pay your fees, you may be able to apply. You should talk to your education institution to see if you can apply.
Students on apprenticeship programmes or any paid learning or training, can’t get a bursary.
Students on traineeships programmes are not paid so are able to apply for a bursary.
If you’re a young offender you can apply for a bursary if:
- you’re serving a non-custodial sentence
- you’ve been released early from a custodial sentence (except on temporary licence)
- you’ve been remanded to a non secure institution
If you’re eligible, institutions will usually provide you with in-kind support like a travel pass, course material or a meal instead of money.
You can’t apply if:
- you’re serving a custodial sentence
- you’ve been released from a custodial sentence on temporary licence
- you’ve been remanded to a secure institution
How to apply
You need to contact student services or your tutor at your education institution to apply for the bursary. They will tell you what to do. There should also be information about the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund on your institution’s website, including how you should apply.
You should apply as soon as you know where you’re going to study. The sooner you apply, the sooner your support can start. Some institutions may have limited funds available and may allocate funding on a first come first served basis.
You institution will tell you about any closing dates for application and what documents you will need to give them.
How you’ll be paid
Institutions decide how the bursary is paid to you. They might pay it into your bank account in instalments, give you cash or a cheque or pay it to you in kind. This means that instead of getting money they will give you a travel pass, meal vouchers or course equipment. You might get paid partly in money and partly in kind. If you have any questions about your payment you should talk to your institution.
If you’re 16 years old you can open a basic bank account. This will allow BACS transfers (if your institution wants to pay the money into your bank account) and allow you to withdraw money. If you can’t open a bank account you will need to speak to your institution to agree how the bursary will be paid to you.
Need more help to stay in education?
Some institutions keep some bursary funds to help students who need emergency help or different types of help during the year because their circumstances have changed. Other institutions provide one-off support through separate funds which aren’t connected to the bursary.
If your circumstances change and you think you need more help speak to your education institution straight away. They will be able to tell you what to do.
If you’re a young parent you can apply for a bursary and for help from Care to Learn for help with childcare costs whilst you study. If you have to move away from home to get the main qualification you’re studying for, you may be able to get help with residential costs. You should ask your tutor or student support team for more information and advice.
Rules on payment
What the bursary is for
As the bursary is to help pay for things you need to stay in education, institutions can say what you should spend it on. They may also ask for receipts to show how you’ve spent it.
If the institution buys you any course related equipment with the bursary they can require you to give it back to them when you finish your course.
Attendance and behaviour
Education institutions usually set conditions on your bursary. These are rules you need to stick to so you can carry on getting support from the bursary fund. The conditions they set could cover attendance or standards of behaviour. If you don’t stick to the rules the institution has set they may stop your payments. Some institutions will ask you to sign a form to confirm that you’ve understood the rules they’ve set and what will happen if you break them.
Illness or absence
If you’re ill or are absent from your institution for another reason this may affect your payments. Your education institution will give you more information about this.
Who will know you get a bursary
Your application is confidential and our education institution should make sure you’re not singled out as getting a bursary.
If you’re worried, talk to student support services or your tutor.
If you or your parents or carers give false or incomplete information on your bursary application you may be committing fraud.
If your institution thinks this is the case they may pass details of your application to the Department for Education or the police. You and your parents or carers could be prosecuted and your institution will ask you to pay back any bursary payments you should not have had.
Education institutions may do sample checks as part of their assessment of your bursary application. This means they could ask you for further evidence. If you don’t give them the evidence they’ve asked for, or if their looking at the evidence results in you being due a lower amount of bursary, they may stop payments or and ask you to pay back any payments you should not have had.
If you think someone has made a fraudulent claim for the bursary fund, speak to student support services or your tutor in confidence. They will look into it.
You can also report it directly to the Department for Education.
Complaints and questions
If you’ve any problems with how the bursary is paid, how much money you get or other general questions, you need to talk to your education institution because they manage the funds.
If you think your institution isn’t managing the bursary fund correctly, you should talk to student support services or your tutor. If they can’t help, you can make a formal complaint, by using your institution’s formal complaints procedure. This is usually available on your institution’s website.