Supporting You Financially

Bursary & Free Meals 2024/25

The 16-19 Bursary Fund & Free Meals scheme can provide financial support to help some students in their learning. Guidelines are set by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Colleges are responsible for awarding bursaries to students, deciding the amounts and setting conditions that students should meet in order to receive support.

If you think you are eligible to receive financial support through the 16-19 Bursary Fund & Free Meals scheme, you should contact your Personal tutor for more information.

Under Universal Credit, any educational award which is paid to enable persons under age 21 to complete a course of non-advance education does not fall to be treated as grant income, as provided under reg 68(7) of the UC Regulations 2013. Therefore, applying to the Bursary & Free Meals scheme does not impact on benefits.

Criteria for ALL applications


Students must be aged 16 or over but under 19 at 31 August 2024 to be eligible for help from the bursary fund in the 2024 to 2025 academic year.

Students aged 19 or over are only eligible for discretionary bursary if they are continuing on a course they began aged 16-18 or have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Students aged 19 or over are not eligible for an enhanced bursary in any case.


Students must have good attendance.


Support will be subject to evidence of effort, good attendance and work performance.  Students will be expected to adhere to the college Code of Conduct and support may be withheld if students become subject to formal disciplinary action (this will be advised by a member of Senior Management during any disciplinary meeting).

Financial Need

Students should show that they have a financial need (see application for details). If there are no relevant costs to meet then college may refuse an application.

Enhanced Bursary

Students qualifying for an enhanced bursary may receive support up to a value of £1,200 per year. Students with a financial need may be eligible for an enhanced bursary if they are either;

  • in care
  • care leavers
  • receiving Income Support, or Universal Credit in student’s own name (if you need help obtaining relevant evidence, contact your Work Coach).
  • receiving either Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal credit in student’s own name AND either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in students own name. (you must be in receipt of both benefits and provide evidence for each one).
  • an unaccompanied asylum seeking child (UASC) – under 18 only. See separate ‘Further information for Asylum Seekers’ section for details.

Students qualifying for enhanced bursary may still be eligible to receive some discretionary bursary provided they also fill the criteria for discretionary bursary and have significant financial need.  Contact the Student Finance team for further details.

Discretionary Bursary

Discretionary bursary is assessed on household income. Applications will only be successful if gross household assessed income is £30,000 or below, for those receiving Tax Credits. For households receiving Universal Credit, assessed net income should be £24,000 or below to qualify.

What is household income?

Household income is usually classed as the income of parents/guardians only. Income information is not required for any additional adults living at the same address eg. Grandparents or adult siblings.

Income taken into account:

If receiving Universal Credit…

You should provide the latest three monthly statements, these must be consecutive and the most recent available. All pages of each statement showing a full breakdown must be provided, these can be found by logging on to your account and clicking the hyperlink for each month. If you are having difficulty accessing your monthly statements contact the Job Centre for assistance.

If you have been receiving Universal Credit for less than three months please provide all statements you have available and notify student finance by email of the start date.

If not receiving Universal Credit…

Income TypeEvidence Required
Full or part-time wages – gross earnings including overtime, bonus and commissionLatest P60 (to tax year ending 5 April 2024) or two consecutive payslips dated within the last 6 months
Self-employmentCopy of accounts for 2023/24 tax year or Tax Award letter (only if accounts have been submitted and confirmed by HMRC – estimates not accepted)
Working or Child Tax Credit ALL pages of your 2024-25 award letter – provisional and estimated awards will require additional evidence.
Income SupportAward notice or bank statement (within last 6 months) showing payments.
Job Seekers Allowance(JSA) Award notice or bank statement (within last 6 months) showing payments.  Please note if applying for Free Meals the Award notice is required.
Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) / Incapacity benefitAward notice or bank statement (within last 6 months) showing payments.  Please note if applying for Free Meals the Award notice is required.
Pensions including Retirement, Widow’s, Army, OtherPension statement or Two consecutive payslips dated within last 6 months.
Support under Part VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999Official letter showing current status.
Any other taxable incomeAny relevant evidence

Income we do not need to know about;

  • Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Child Benefit
  • Childcare element of Working Tax Credits
  • Disability element of Working/Child Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit
  • Rent from lodgers/letting rooms
  • Child maintenance
  • Bank or Building Society interest

Free Meals

Free meals will automatically also be awarded if the student or parent/guardian are in receipt of any of the following;

  • 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 Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income 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 £7,400pa

Free meals will be equivalent to £3 per day. Credit of £15 will be available on student ID cards and the UPAY app, and will be refreshed each week. Any remaining credit will be lost at the end of each week.

Travel Grant

We are pleased to announce that the Travel Grant will continue for 2024/25.   The Travel Grant will consist of either an allowance towards a New College bus pass or grant payments to help with the cost of public transport or other travel.  Applications will automatically be assessed for a Travel Grant when an application is submitted to the Bursary & Free Meals Scheme. *Please note terms and conditions apply, evidence of travel costs will also be required.

Further information for Asylum Seekers

Accompanied asylum seeking children (those under 18 with an adult relative or partner)

Accompanied asylum seeking children (those under 18 with an adult relative or partner) and those aged 18 and above are entitled to education, but not to public funds and therefore may not apply for a college bursary.

If an application for asylum has not been refused, students can contact Student Finance if they have a specific need. Payments cannot be made from bursary funds but college may be able to provide some support in-kind.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) – under 18 only

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children are treated as looked after children and are eligible for an enhanced bursary (‘in care’ group), where they have a financial need. Evidence must be provided as with all Bursary applications.

For more information about when children turn 18 (adulthood) contact Student Finance.

Further information for Care to Learn students

If you (the student) are a young parent in receipt of Care to Learn then the college bursary may be able to provide further help with childcare costs where these costs exceed the weekly maximum rate for the Care to Learn scheme.  Please contact Student Finance for further information.

How to apply

If you think you are eligible to receive financial support through the 16-19 Bursary Fund & Free Meals scheme, you can access the bursary portal using the link at the top of this page.

Information provided to college will be confidential and will only be seen by authorised college staff. It is required and will only be used to process a 16-19 Bursary Fund & Free Meals application and for the prevention of fraud.

Applications submitted after 30 September 2024 will receive support pro-rata for the remaining term weeks in the academic year. Decision letters will be sent by email to the student’s email address.


How support is received

Support will be provided in 2 ways. You may receive credit for our online store so you can purchase bus passes, revision guides, books and equipment and other college items. You may also receive payment for items where receipts will be requested.

Payments can only be made by BACS transfer into a bank account held in the student’s own name.  If there are special circumstances why a student cannot hold their own bank account this must be discussed with Student Finance before the application is submitted. You will be unable to submit an application without providing student bank details. 

Support Amounts

For any bursary payments students receive in cash, college may request receipts as proof of purchases to support their studies.  It is the student’s own responsibility to keep receipts for the duration of year.

Enhanced Bursary

Provided a student meets the required criteria and has financial need they will be eligible to receive a maximum of £1,200 in support over the academic year 2024/25. Students may receive a reduced award or may be refused an award dependant on the student’s financial need.

Discretionary Bursary

Any support awarded will be subject to evidence of effort, good attendance and work performance. Students will be expected to adhere to the college code of conduct and support may be withheld if students become subject to formal disciplinary action (this will be advised by a member of senior management during any disciplinary meeting). Support amounts will be made based on the actual participation needs of each individual student.

Student withdrawals

If a student withdraws from college, support will be stopped from the date of the withdrawal. College reserves the right to ask for any monies paid in advance to be returned.


Calculations can be provided on request for information on why an application has been declined. Contact Student Finance for details.

To appeal a decision, a cover letter should be sent along with any relevant additional supporting evidence. Appeals are referred to the Trust Finance Manager in first instance. Any further query is referred to Trust Director of Finance.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or for further information about the 16-19 Bursary Fund please email:

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