If you are aged under 19, full time courses are free.

If you’re aged 19 or over, depending on your circumstances, certain courses may be free. You may still have to pay for exam/registration or materials costs, but our Learner Support Fund might be able to help you with these costs.

You are generally eligible for free tuition if you are aged 19–23 at the start of your course and you are applying for your first full Level 2 course or your first full Level 3 course, or if you are in receipt of a state benefit and are actively seeking work.

If you have to pay for your course, you can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to help with the costs. Loan eligibility doesn’t depend on your income and there are no credit checks.

How much you get depends on:

  • the type of course
  • your course fees
  • the maximum loan available for your course.

The minimum loan you can get is £300 and is paid directly to your college or training provider. You don’t have to borrow the full cost of your course – you can pay for some of it yourself.

You must be 19 or older on the first day of your course and your course must be a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 qualification, e.g. A Levels, Level 3 or Level 4 Diploma, an HND, HNC or foundation degree.

Full details of eligibility and how to apply are available at https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan/overview

Some courses are ‘full-cost’ and these full-cost courses must be paid for by the students themselves; fees for full-cost courses vary and must be paid up front.

To find out more, telephone 0800 622006.


The Learner Support Fund helps those students who would otherwise be unable to participate in Further Education. Priority groups are learners who are economically or socially disadvantaged, disabled, ill or have learning difficulties.

Young people may be entitled to a £1200 bursary (dependent on circumstances and performance) if they are:
• in care
• leaving care
• in receipt of income support
• in receipt of both Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.

We can also help young people who were in receipt of free school meals at school and young people where household income falls below £30,810 (most other Colleges fix this at around £20,000).

For young learners where the household income falls below £30,810, we can provide financial support for College trips and activities, equipment, uniform and books. They will not be entitled to a bursary.

For adult learners who meet the criteria we can support childcare, equipment, trips, books, uniform and travel. There is also a small amount of funding available to pay for exam and course fees. Again, support is subject to availability.

For all enquiries about the Learner Support Fund contact Ann Hay or Naomi Lear via freephone 0800 622006 or welfare@sandwell.ac.uk

Free meals

We offer free meals to students who are from low income households. Eligible students will receive a credit on their ID cards to spend at the catering facilities in college at the daily meal rate of £2.41 for each day that they are timetabled to be in college.

To apply for free meals students must:

– be aged between 16 and 18 years on 31 August 2014 OR be aged 19-25 and subject to a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) or Education Health Care Plan (EHC Plan)
– satisfy the residency criteria set out in the EFA ‘Funding regulation’ guidance for the 2014 to 2015 academic year
– be in receipt or their parents/guardians be in receipt of one or more of the following benefits: Income Support, Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit (provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit), and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190.

A student is only eligible to receive a free meal when they, or a parent/guardian on their behalf, have made a successful application to the College.

The following groups of student are not eligible for a free meal: Students aged 19 or over at the start of their course(s), unless they have an LDA or EHC Plan, and Apprentices, including those with an LDA or EHC Plan

How to Apply:

Students need to complete the combined Free Meals and Learner Support Fund (LSF) application form available from Student Services. They will be entitled to additional assistance from the Learner Support Fund if they qualify for Free Meals. We would encourage students to apply for their meals before their course starts.

Build Your Prospectus Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter
Call Us