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I’m a student between 16 and 19 years old – what further education funding can I get in Wales?

Dydd Gwener 12 Ebrill 2013Further education

If you live in Wales and you’re between 16 and 19 years old when you start a course of further education, you can get funding from the Welsh Government. Here’s an overview with links to more information.

This topic contains the following:

Can I get further education funding in Wales?

If you normally live in Wales, and you and your course are eligible, you may be able to get funding from the government to take a course of further education. For more details, see Can I get further education funding in the UK?

If you’re eligible for funding in Wales and you’re between 16 and 19 years old, the following information is for you.

Do I need to pay tuition fees?

If you’re under 19 years old on 31 August before you enrol on your course, and you’re taking a full- or part-time course funded by the Welsh Government, you don’t have to pay tuition fees.

However, if you’re taking your course at a private college, you may be asked to pay a fee.

Can I get help with costs related to my course?

You may be able to get an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to help with costs related to your course, such as books, equipment, lunch and transport to and from your school or college. The following figures are for 2013/2014.

If you’re eligible, you get £30 a week during term time, paid every two weeks, for up to three years. You don’t need to pay the money back.

To get the allowance you must be:

  • between 16 and 18 years old on 31 August before you start your course
  • studying at a participating school or college – it doesn’t have to be in Wales, as long as you live in Wales and your school or college participates in the EMA scheme
  • studying on an academic or vocational course up to and including Level 3 (eg GCSE, A or AS Level, BTEC, GNVQ, NVQ or Basic Skills courses)
  • studying either full-time at school, or for a minimum of 12 guided hours a week at college
  • taking a course that lasts for at least ten weeks.

As well as this, your household income must be £20,817 a year or less if you’re the only child in the household, or £23,077 a year or less if any other young people in your household are studying full-time and eligible for Child Benefit.

If you’re financially dependent on your parents, ‘household income’ means your parents’ income. If you work part time, your income doesn’t count. However, if you’re financially independent (eg you live apart from your parents and have no contact with them, you’re in local authority care, you’re responsible for a child), ‘household income’ means your income plus your partner’s income (if you live with them). Most benefits you may get from the government aren’t counted as income.

You can use this online calculator to find out whether you can get an EMA.

To apply for an EMA, you need to complete and return an application form. Here’s more information about the EMA, including details if you’ve applied before. There are also some frequently asked questions.

You can also download the Little Book of EMA, which has all you need to know if you’re applying for the first time.

Can I get help with my travel costs?

If you need help getting to and from your place of learning, or need to travel as part of your course, you may qualify for free or subsidised transport. If you’re:

  • over 16 years old and staying at school, you usually qualify for free transport if you live in the school’s catchment area but need to travel more than a set distance to get there
  • between 16 and 19 years old and you’re studying full-time at a further education college, you usually qualify for free transport
  • 19 years old or older, or studying part-time, you may qualify for free or subsidised travel.

Ask for details from the student welfare officer wherever you’re learning or planning to learn.

Can I get help from my local education authority?

You may be able to get extra funding from your local authority, eg if your parents are out of work, you have a low income, you get benefits or you have a disability. This funding may be called a Passport to Study grant, and it usually takes the form of assistance with travel costs.

Not all local authorities provide extra funds, but it’s worth checking with yours to find out whether you’re eligible for support.

I want to be an apprentice – what support can I get?

If you want to undertake a course of vocational training and work at the same time, you might consider doing an apprenticeship. You’re paid a salary while you study.

If you take a Pathways to Apprenticeships course in order to become an apprentice, you can get a grant of money similar to an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to help with your costs.

For more information, see Can I get funding to study for further education while I work?

What other government support is available?

As well as the support outlined above, other further education funding is available, depending on your circumstances. Find out more here:

What if I’m in financial difficulty?

If you’re facing financial hardship, you may get help from the Financial Contingency Fund. For more information, see I’m a student in further education – where can I get help if I’m in financial difficulty?

Can I get help to study for a City & Guilds qualification?

If you’re studying for a City & Guilds qualification or a National Proficiency Tests Council course, you may be able to get a bursary (a grant of money that you don’t need to pay back) to help with your living costs. See Can I get funding to study for a City & Guilds qualification?

Where can I find more information?

Here are some links to more information:

This information was updated in March 2013. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.

Image by JKehoe_Photos.