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This page relates to the 2016 to 2017 academic year. Please visit our student support page for the latest information.
Guidance for all institutions administering the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund in 2016 to 2017.
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
- 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 get 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 probably get less.
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. If this is the case your institution must say why.
Proof you’re eligible for a vulnerable bursary
Your institution will need proof you’re eligible. 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
Your institution will tell you what you need.
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 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 other defined vulnerable groups.
However, you can apply for help for a discretionary bursary from your education institution. Your institution should ensure the information you give them is used confidentially so you can talk to them about your caring responsibilities when you’re applying for help.
If you’re a young parent getting Income Support or Universal Credit in your own name you may get a vulnerable bursary. If you don’t get a vulnerable bursary, you may be able to apply for a discretionary bursary from your education institution.
You might also get help with childcare costs through Care to Learn.
If you don’t fall into one of the vulnerable groups, but you need financial help to stay in education, you can apply for a discretionary bursary from your education institution. You must be between 16 and 19 years old and in full or part time further education or training.
Your education institution is responsible for setting the eligibility criteria. Examples of what it could be based on are:
- your family’s income
- if your parents get benefits
- if you currently receive free school meals or have had them in the past
Institutions set eligibility criteria for the bursary because funds have to be targeted at students who need the most help to stay in education.
How much you get is up to your institution. They decide who gets a bursary, how much, when it’s paid and can say what it should be spent on.
If you apply, your institution may ask for evidence of your family’s household income. Examples 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 Works and Pensions income-related benefits. They are paid directly to students as well as other means tested benefits and don’t affect them.
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 for you like child benefit.
Help to pay for one-off things
Some 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 student support services at your education institution for more information.
To get either of the 2 bursaries in the 2016 to 2017 academic year you must meet the requirements for your age and residency. Your study must also meet the conditions:
You must be aged:
- over 16 at 31 August 2016
- under 19 at 31 August 2016
If you aged over 19 you won’t be eligible for the bursary unless you have an Education, Health and Care Plan (ECHP). You should talk to your 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 students. Student support services at your education institution will tell you what you can apply for.
You must meet the residency requirements for enrolment. 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 your host local authority in Scotland 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 your home local authority 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, via the Welsh institution’s Financial Contingency Fund
- if you attend a special college or school sixth form you should approach your home local authority in England to apply for a discretionary bursary
All students living in England and travelling to Wales to study who are in one of the defined vulnerable groups, are eligible for a vulnerable bursary. If this applies to you, you should approach your local authority in England to apply.
Types of study
Your institution should be inspected by a public body such as Ofsted that checks quality.
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 provision meets this condition.
Studying part time
You can be studying full or part time. The amount of time you’re studying will be looked at when 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 may be eligible for the bursary fund.
However, if you don’t have any costs related to your education you won’t get any bursary funds.
If you want to apply, you should speak to student support at your education institution. They will look at your individual case. When they have done this they will let you know if you can apply and how much you could get.
Please note that the bursary cannot be used to pay for course fees or exam re-sits.
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 get a bursary. Your education institution will be able to tell you if you can apply and how.
Students on apprenticeship programmes, or paid learning or training, can’t get a bursary.
Students on a traineeships programme are not paid so they are eligible to apply for a bursary.
If you’re a young offender you can apply 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
Institutions should provide you with in-kind support, if possible. This is where you get the things you need such as a meal, course material or a travel pass, 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
To apply you need to contact student support services or your tutor at your education institution. They will tell you what to do. There should also be information about applying for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund on your institution’s website.
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.
Some institutions ask for a new application every year, some only at the start of a course. If you’re unsure, talk to your education institution.
How you’ll be paid
How the bursary is paid is up to individual institutions. It may be paid into your bank account in a lump sum or instalments. You may get cash or a cheque. Or, it might be paid in kind, which means instead of getting money; you could get 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. This is because institutions are responsible for deciding who is eligible for the bursary fund, as well as how much each student is awarded, and when the payments will be made.
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 student support services or your tutor to work out another way for them to pay you.
Need more help to stay in education?
Some institutions keep some bursary fund to help students who need emergency help because their circumstances have changed. Others provide one-off support through separate funds which aren’t connected to the bursary. If your circumstances change, speak to student support services at 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. 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.
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 what you’ve spent it on.
Attendance and behaviour
Education institutions can 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 them, your payments may be stopped.
Illness or absence
If you’re ill or are absent for another reason, your education institution will tell you if this will affect your payments.
Who will know you get a bursary
Your application should be confidential. Your 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. Details of your application may be passed to the Department for Education or the police. You and your parents or carers could be prosecuted. Your institution will ask you to pay back any payments you should not have had.
As part of the assessment of your application your education institution may do sample checks. They could ask you for further evidence. If that evidence is not provided, or results in a lower award being due, they may stop payments and ask you to pay back any payments you should not have had.
If you think someone has made a fraudulent claim, speak to student support services or your tutor in confidence. They will need to 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 student services or your tutor at you education institution because they manage the funds.
Institution not managing the bursary correctly
If you feel your institution is not 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.