Financial support with further and higher education

What help can I get with further education?

Bursary scheme for further education

There is a 'bursary' scheme (which replaced Education Maintenance Allowance) for 16-19 year olds who stay on in further education after GCSEs.

  • If the young person is not looked after by Children's Services, you can apply to their school or college for the bursary but there is no right to it – it is administered by schools and colleges on a discretionary basis for students in non-advanced education (i.e. below degree level).
  • Some young people do have a right to £1200 per year payment - this includes those who are disabled (getting both ESA and DLA); on income support (e.g. because they are living independently); 16-17 year olds in the care system, and 18-19 year old care-leavers. See here for more information.

What help is available for university/higher education?

Please note that the following advice applies to students going to university or higher education in England. Different rules apply for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information please see here.

A student applying for university financial support is assessed on the basis of their own and their parents' household income(i). A parent is defined as a natural or adoptive parent, so it does not include any other type of carer. This means that as a family and friends carer, your household income will not be taken into account unless you are also the child's adoptive parent.

The young person will still be financially assessed on the basis of their parent's household income, even if they do not live with them, unless they are classed as an independent student. If the student is an independent student they will be financially assessed on their own income. The young person is treated as 'independent' where(ii)

  • the young person is estranged from their parents (in the opinion of the Secretary of State), or
  • the young person's parents have both died, or
  • the young person was looked after by Children's Services for 3 months ending on or after their 16th birthday and before the first day of their further education course.

The 'independent student' category is decided on a case by case basis, depending on the particular circumstances of that family. Usually a young person will not be considered estranged from their parents unless they have had no contact for more than one year, or can show in some other way that their relationship with their parents has broken down permanently. Further information can be found here, and from Student Finance England, (contact details below). You can also get additional advice from the educational body the young person is applying to.

Can I get financial help from Children's Services for further/higher education if the child I am raising is under a special guardianship order?

If a child, who is under a special guardianship order, was looked after by Children's Services before the order was made, they will also have a right (between the age of 16 and 21) to advice and assistance from Children's Services to make their own arrangements when moving into independent living. The Children's Services responsible is that which last looked after the young person. This includes advising and befriending, financial support and vacation accommodation for the young person if they are under 25 and are in full time education.

Further information

Student Finance England
16-19 Bursary Fund
The 16-19 Bursary Fund: your questions answered - Advice for young people
The Who Cares? Trust The HE Handbook for Care Leavers

(i) The Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 (for those starting education after Sept 2012) sch 4 para 3
(ii) ESSR 2011 Sch4 para2