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I’m a student in further education – where can I get help if I’m in financial difficulty?
By David Malcolm
If you’re a student taking a course of further education in the UK you can get funding from the government to help you if you’re facing financial difficulties. The help you can get depends on your age and where you live. Here’s an overview with links to more information.
What help can I get from the government?
You can get support from funds held by your college to help pay for things like accommodation, travel, course materials and equipment. The funds have different names depending on where you live:
- England: if you’re 16 to 19 years old and taking a course funded by the Education Funding Agency, you can apply to the 16-19 Bursary Fund. If you’re 19 years old or older and taking a further education course funded by the Skills Funding Agency, you can get Discretionary Learner Support. If you’re 20 years old or older, you can also get support for childcare. For more information see Discretionary Learner Support.
- Wales: if you’re taking a further education course funded by the Welsh Government you can get help from the Financial Contingency Fund. You can also get help for childcare, lunch vouchers, equipment, books and transport. For more information, see A guide to funding for adult learners.
- Northern Ireland: if you’re 16 years old or older you can get help from the Further Education Support Fund. You can get help if your government funding doesn’t arrive in time, or you lose your job while taking a part-time course. You can also get help for childcare. For more information, see Further Education Support Fund.
- Scotland: if you’re taking a full- or part-time further education course you can get help from the Discretionary Fund. The maximum amount available in 2012/2013 is £3,500.
Your learning provider (eg your college) decides how much you get. It depends on your circumstances. They also decide how the support is given to you, eg a direct payment to you, a loan, or a payment to someone else, eg your landlord.
You can’t get funds if you’re taking some kinds of further education course, eg an apprenticeship.
To apply, speak to your learning provider – each one has their own application process.
I’m a student and pay for childcare – what extra further education funding can I get?
I’m a disabled student – what extra further education funding can I get?
Where do I go for help if I’m in financial difficulty?
What further education funding is available in England?
What further education funding is available in Wales?
What further education funding is available in Northern Ireland?
What further education funding is available in Scotland?
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.