The 16-19 Bursary Fund
A new bursary scheme has been set up to help students struggling with money stay in full-time education. Read on to see if you're eligible.
What's the new bursary?
The 16-19 Bursary Fund is money set aside by the Government (£180m to be precise) to help the most vulnerable students continue in full-time education. It replaces the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which is being scrapped in England from September 2012.
But what happens if I get EMA at the moment?
Don't panic. If you're in post-16 study and currently receive EMA there are transitional arrangements set up to see you through until the end of the 2011/12 academic year. Managed by the Young People's Agency, they are broken down as follows:
- students who successfully applied for the EMA in 2009/10 will continue to receive payments at the level set out in their EMA guarantee for each week they are in education or training, until the end of the 2011/12 academic year
- students in their first year of study who successfully applied for the maximum weekly EMA payment of £30 in 2010/11 will be eligible for £20 for each week they are in education or training, until the end of the 2011/12 academic year
So if I'm eligible for EMA will I get a bursary?
It depends on your current circumstances. Unlike EMA, which is a means-tested benefit, The Bursary Fund is made up of two parts: part one is a guaranteed annual payment given to the most vulnerable students (young people in care, care leavers and those in receipt of Income Support, and disabled young people receiving Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance); and part two is a discretionary fund for schools and colleges to give to any student who genuinely needs financial help to continue in their studies. If you're currently receiving EMA it's likely you'll get some financial help, but it's down to your school or college to decide the amount, when it's paid (e.g. weekly, monthly, or a one-off payment), and what conditions - if any - should be attached.
How much will I get?
The amount you receive will depend on whether you're eligible for the first or second part of the bursary.
"If you're eligible for the first part will receive a guaranteed payment of at least £1200 a year."
- If you're eligible for the first part (the Government estimates this will be around 12,000 students) you will receive a guaranteed payment of at least £1200 a year - that's over £400 more than you would have received through the EMA. In exceptional circumstances, larger bursaries can be paid if the provider believes this necessary to enable you to continue in education or training.
- There's no set amount for the second part of the bursary, as individual schools and colleges decide how best to distribute the funds. The amount you receive could be a lump sum given at the beginning of term to help you get started, a weekly allowance to help with travel costs, or enough money to cover essential equipment needed to complete the course.
How do I claim?
You apply for a bursary through your school, academy, college, or training provider.
Those entitled to the first part will have to provide proof of their eligibility, e.g. a letter detailing their benefits, or written confirmation of their current or previous care arrangements. Recipients will receive their bursary payments from their school, academy, college or training provider.
Students applying for part two may also be asked to provide some evidence of their financial situation to support their application. As providers are free to determine who's eligible and how much they should receive, they may take into account your household income and ask to see details of any benefits the family receives, or evidence of self employment income. However, this is only a guideline, as the arrangements and eligibility criteria for part two will be for schools and colleges to determine. As bursaries have been set up to help young people facing the most significant financial barriers to studying any evidence that supports your claim will help.
For advice, speak to student services or your tutor, or go to www.direct.gov.uk/16-19bursary.
Remember to tell your benefits advisor if your circumstances change - for example if you get a pay rise, new job or get married. If you don't you could face a £50 fine as well as having to pay back any extra benefit. See GOV.UK for more information.
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!