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 here.

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.

Young people aged 16 to 18 on 31st August 2021 may be entitled to a £1200 bursary (dependent on circumstances and performance) if they are:

  • In care
  • Leaving care
  • In receipt of Income Support or Universal Credit in their own right
  • Receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments in their own right as well as Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit in their own right

We can also help young people who were in receipt of free meals at school and young people where household income falls below £32,600 (most other Colleges fix this at around £20,000).

For young learners where the household income falls below £32,600 we can provide financial support towards College trips and activities, equipment, uniform and books (dependent on course requirements).

Free meals

We offer free meals to students who are from low income households. Eligible students will receive credit on their ID cards to spend at the catering facilities in college at the daily meal rate of £2.70 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 2021, or aged over 19 and continuing on the same study programme (19+ continuers) they started before they turned 19, or who have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Students are eligible for a free meal where they meet the criteria and satisfy the residency criteria set out in the EFA ‘Funding regulation’ guidance for the 2021-22 academic year.

Eligibility: Students being in receipt of, or having parents who are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guarantee 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, as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC))
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after someone stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit with net earnings not exceeding the equivalent of £7,400 pa

How to Apply:

Students need to complete the combined 16 to 18 Free Meals and Discretionary Learner Support Fund (DLSF) Application Form (also available from Reception and Welfare department). They will be entitled to additional assistance from the Learner Support Fund if they qualify for Free Meals. We would encourage all students to apply early.

For adult learners who meet the criteria we can provide support towards childcare, equipment, trips, books, uniform and travel depending on eligibility and funding. There is also a small amount of funding available to pay for exam and course fees, again, support is subject to eligibility and funding. Adult learners need to complete the 19+ Discretionary Support Fund/Advanced Learner Loan Application Form (also available from Reception and Welfare department).

For all enquiries about the Learner Support Fund contact the Welfare Department via freephone 0800 622006 or email [email protected]



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