Back to advice

I’m a student parent – what extra higher education funding can I get?

By David Malcolm

Friday 15 March 2013 Higher education

If you’re a student in higher education in the UK with children, you can get extra funding depending on the kind of main funding you get and who provides it.

This topic contains the following:

You may also want to look at the related topics.

Am I eligible for extra funding?

To get any higher education support from the government, you and your course must be eligible for it. To be eligible for the extra funding detailed here, you must be studying either:

  • full-or part-time for an undergraduate or equivalent qualification
  • full-time for a postgraduate initial teacher training qualification (or part-time if you get your funding from Student Finance NI, in which case you get the same funding as full-time students)
  • on a healthcare course and eligible for an NHS, DHSSPS or Scottish Government Health Directorate healthcare bursary
  • on a postgraduate social work course and eligible for a social work bursary from the NHS, Care Council for Wales or DHSSPS.

For more details about eligibility, see Can I get higher education funding in the UK?

I’m taking a full-time course – what government funding can I get?

If you’re taking a full-time course, you can get a financial support package that favours student parents, depending on who provides your funding.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland: if you get your funding from Student Finance England, Wales or NI and you’re studying full-time for an undergraduate or equivalent level qualification, or a postgraduate level initial teacher training qualification, you can apply for a special support grant instead of a regular maintenance grant or assembly learning grant.

You may get a special support grant if you have a partner who’s also a student and one or both of you are responsible for a child or young person under 20 years old who’s in full-time education below higher education level. The amount you get is the same as the maintenance grant or assembly learning grant, but it doesn’t reduce the amount of maintenance loan or loan for living costs you can borrow, and isn’t taken into account when calculating the means-tested benefits you’re entitled to.

You can only apply for this if you’re studying in the UK and started your course after 1 September 2006.

For more information, see:

I’m taking a part-time course – what government funding can I get?

If you’re taking a part-time course, you can get a financial support package that favours student parents, depending on who provides your funding.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland: if you get your funding from Student Finance England, Wales or NI and you’re studying part-time for an undergraduate or equivalent level qualification (or a postgraduate level initial teacher training qualification for England and Wales only), you could be entitled to higher grants depending on how many children you have and when you started your course. For more information, see:

Is there any extra government funding specifically for student parents?

If you’re studying full-time, you can get extra funding alongside your student finance package. However, extra funding is limited if you’re studying part-time, except in Wales. The following figures are for 2013/2014.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland: if you get your funding from Student Finance England, Wales or Northern Ireland and you’re studying for an undergraduate or equivalent level qualification, or a postgraduate level initial teacher training qualification, you can apply for a Parents’ Learning Allowance if you have dependent children. The amount you get depends on your household income – for England and Wales up to £1,508 a year, and for Northern Ireland up to £1,538 a year. If you’re studying on a part-time course, the amount you get also depends on your ‘course intensity’ – the percentage of time that you’re studying compared to a student taking an equivalent full-time course (you can’t get the allowance if you’re studying part-time and get your funding from Student Finance England or NI).

You can apply for this allowance on top of any other student finance you get, and you don’t have to pay it back. It doesn’t affect your benefits or tax credits. If your partner is also a full-time student, you can both claim the allowance, but again, what you get depends on your household income. The money is paid directly into your bank account. For more information, including how to apply, see the following:

Scotland: if you get your funding from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS), you can’t get any extra funding unless you bring up your children on your own (see I’m a single student parent – what extra higher education funding can I get?). However, you can apply for tax credits instead. See What tax credits can I get as a student?

I’ve got a bursary to study medicine, dentistry, healthcare or social work – what extra funding can I get?

If you get a bursary from the NHS, DHSSPS, Scottish Government Health Directorate or Care Council for Wales to study for a qualification in medicine, dentistry, healthcare or social work, you can get extra funds if you’re a parent. The following figures are for 2012/2013.

England and Wales: if you get a healthcare bursary from the NHS in England or Wales, you can’t get the regular Parents’ Learning Allowance. Instead, you can get a similar allowance as part of your bursary:

  • England: if you started an NHS funded healthcare course after 31 August 2007, you can get up to £1,303 a year, depending on your course, when you started it and your household income. You can apply for the allowance when you apply for your NHS bursary. See What is the Parent Learning Allowance? for more information. Also, you can get a Dependants Allowance of up to £2,640 a year for your first child (if you don’t have a spouse, civil partner or other dependent adult), and £539 a year for each subsequent child. Again, how much you get depends on your course, when you started it and your household income. See What is a Dependants Allowance? for more information.
  • Wales: you can get up to £1,180 a year, depending on your household income. You can apply for the allowance when you apply for your NHS bursary. Also, you can get a Dependants Allowance of up to £2,400 a year for your first child (if you don’t have a spouse, civil partner or other dependent adult), and £539 a year for each subsequent child. Again, how much you get depends on your household income. See Financial Help for Healthcare Students in Wales for more information.

Wales: if you’re studying for a postgraduate masters degree in social work and get a social work bursary from the Care Council for Wales, you can get a Parents Learning Allowance of up to £1,505 a year, depending on your income and that of your dependants. For more information, see Additional Grants and Allowances for postgraduate students.

Northern Ireland: if you’re studying for a healthcare qualification in Northern Ireland and you get a bursary from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), you may get a similar allowance. Contact your local Student Finance NI office for advice.

Scotland: if you’re taking a nursing or midwifery course funded by the Scottish Government Health Directorate, you can apply for the bursary Dependants Allowance. This gives extra support for adult dependants, but also dependent children. The amount you get depends on your household income (your income plus that of your partner and dependants) – you can get up to £2,640 for your spouse, civil partner, partner or other adult dependant (or otherwise your first child), and £557 for all other children. For more information, see Dependants’ Allowance.

Related topics

I’m a student with children or other dependants – what extra higher education funding can I get?

I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in England or Wales?

I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in Northern Ireland?

I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in Scotland?

I’m studying social work – what higher education funding can I get in Wales?

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.