Information, advice and guidance

What sources of financial support are available for students at age 16?

The percentage of 16-17 year olds recorded in education and training within England, as at March 2019, was 93%. Of this figure, 85% were full time students. Apprenticeships, work-based learning, employment combined with study and part-time education contributed towards the remaining 8%. It is acknowledged that expecting vulnerable groups of students, as well as some individual young students to finance transport, food, books and equipment in order to remain in education or training can be a barrier and, in some cases, a prevention to continuation of study or training. As a result, there is specific support available to assist with these costs for some students.

What help is available?

Students identified as the most financially disadvantaged are defined as ‘vulnerable groups’. These groups are:
> Students who are in care or who are care leavers
> Students 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
> Students 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

If a student meets one of these criteria and the institution they attend can verify this, a claim can be submitted by the institution through the Student Bursary Support Service Portal, up to a value of £1,200 per year. This is awarded from the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Institutions also have the authority to pay an individual student a discretionary bursary, again from the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund but administered under differing eligibility criteria than the above.

An individual student is considered for an award from the fund to assist them in overcoming the barriers they are personally facing, which may prevent them from participation in education or training. Items that a student may need to pay for to continue in education, such as travel, books and equipment are considered as expenses, but also their individual situation including household income and requirements of their study programme.

Whilst the institution sets their own criteria for this discretionary bursary, they do have to comply with the eligibility conditions of the scheme.

A student who is in receipt of or whose parents receive a qualifying benefit could be eligible to receive a free meal at the institution for each day that they attend a study programme. The free meal provision is intended to support disadvantaged students, and is based upon a successful application that would be made to the further education provider.

For young parents (aged under 20), Care to Learn (C2L) provide funding for childcare, in order for the parents to continue in education after the birth of their child. Care to Learn pay a maximum of £160 per child per week towards childcare whilst the parent is engaged in a study programme or on a programme identified work or industry placement. The young parent should be the main carer for the child and in receipt of Child Benefit for the child they are claiming C2L. They must also be living and studying in England. There is a London weighting for the scheme, up to a maximum of £175 per week per child.

How do students receive their funding?

It is encouraged that institutions pay bursaries in the form of travel passes, vouchers or credits to cover food and books, relating to the reason the bursary was awarded to the student in the first instance and thus ensuring that the funding is used for the purpose for which it was intended.

Acknowledgement of the specific barriers opposing progression onto further education and training for students aged 16 is paramount to increasing the level of support, information and guidance that we administer. By providing this guidance we can hope that the proportion of 16 year olds participating in full or part time further education, apprenticeships, work based learning and employment combined with study will continue to rise.   


The term ‘institutions’ is used to cover academies, schools, colleges and all other providers.

Further sources of information

> GOV.UK – 16 to 19 education: financial support for students
> GOV.UK – NEET and participation – local authority figures


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