Paying for Further Education Courses
Further education can help you get to university, or to get ahead in your professional life. It’s a popular choice for both young people and adult learners and can be studied at college, or sometimes in the workplace.
There is a range of financial help for all learners to help pay for further education courses and related costs.
Education Maintenance AllowanceThe Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a grant which is paid weekly to eligible 16-18 year olds. It was introduced in 2004 to encourage young people to stay on for further education.
The Education Maintenance Allowance is means-tested, but students from families earning less than £20,000 a year could receive up to £30 a week.
Our article on The Education Maintenance Allowance will give you more information on applying.
Adult Learning GrantAdult Learning Grants are for students aged over 19, who are studying for a level 2 (for example 5 GCSEs or a level 2 NVQ) or level 3 (for example 2 A levels or a level 3 NVQ) qualification for the first time.
The grants are means-tested but learners could be eligible for up to £30 a week. You and any partner that you live with will be assessed, and to receive the maximum amount you must earn less than £19,000 per year.
To qualify you must be studying at a school, college or institution which has been approved by the Learning and Skills Council. Your course must also be full-time and include at least 450 hours of guided learning over the year. This works out at about 12 hours per week and doesn’t include any workplace learning.
To apply you can ask a student adviser at your college for guidance, or call the designated Learndirect advice line (0800 100 900).
Living Away from HomeMost students studying for a further education course will attend a college or school close to where they live. It’s not always possible, however, as some specialist courses are only offered by selected education providers.
If you would need to move away to study your chosen course, help may be available to pay for your accommodation and travel costs. The first place to look for help is the college which you want to study at. Many offer scholarships, grants and bursaries to students.
You may also qualify for help under the government’s Residential Support Scheme. Means-tested awards of up to £3,295 (£3,886 in London) are available to spend on accommodation and travel costs. You can download an application form from the Directgov site.
Learner Support FundsIf you face financial hardship after you’ve started a further education course, you could receive help through a Learner Support Fund.
Individual colleges and schools administer their own Learner Support Funds so the amounts available and the criteria will vary. In order to apply you’ll need to provide proof of income and outgoings. Learner Support Funds are open to all students.
Dance and DramaIf you plan on being a star and want to study for a selected performing arts course, some financial help could be available in the form of a Dance and Drama Award.
Dance and Drama Awards are offered by 21 private dance and drama colleges. The Directgov site provides a full list of the courses and providers available.
The awards are means-tested. You can receive help for some of your fees, although you’ll have to pay something towards them yourself. On top of this you could receive up to £4,602 towards your living costs.
Initially the awards are decided on the strength of auditions and talent. Once you’ve been accepted onto a course, your school or college will send you information about applying for more financial help with accommodation and living costs.