Study funding after GCSE's
Don't let money worries put you off pursuing your dreams. There's funding available if you want to stay in education after year 11.
With travel, books and equipment to fork out for it's hard to see how studying after GCSEs can be affordable. But you could be eligible for free transport, a grant to help towards books and equipment, or even a lump sum at the beginning of term to help you get started. Here's what available - starting with grants that don't have to be paid back.
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
Scrapped in England but still available in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a payment to help 16, 17 and 18 year-olds keep studying after they leave compulsory education. It's worth up to £30 a week, depending on your circumstances, and is paid directly into your bank account. For students in England this has been replaced with The Bursary Scheme.
The Bursary Scheme
Unlike the EMA, which is means tested, the Bursary scheme comes in two parts: a guaranteed annual payment for the most vulnerable students; and a discretionary fund for schools and colleges to give to students who genuinely need financial help to continue studying.
Speak to your school, college or academy to find out how to apply for a bursary.
Discretionary Learner Support Funds
For students who find themselves in financial hardship or need money for emergencies, childcare, or essential equipment there's Discretionary Learner Support Funds. These are available in schools and colleges in England. Your tutor will have more information and will go through the application process with you.
A number of 'specialist residential centres' across the UK offer extra support for students wanting to study particular courses. Places are only available to people who cannot study this subject locally and so need to live away from home. There is a list of the 43 colleges on the scheme on the DirectGov website.
The Residential Support Scheme
If there is no Residential Bursary available for your course, you may qualify for the Residential Support Scheme. If you qualify, the scheme will help pay for your term-time accommodation. You can claim up to £3458 (£4079 in the London area) towards your costs each year, for up to a maximum of three years.
Grants are a dying breed but not extinct yet. The General Federation of Trades Unions Educational Trust offers grants of up to £150 a year for people studying economics, history, industrial law, industrial relations or other subjects. For more information, call the Federation on 020 7387 2578. The charity Family Action can help you find out where to get a grant through their Educational Grants Advisory Service. They also run a helpline on 020 7254 6251.
Dance and Drama Awards
Dance and Drama Awards are for students over the age of 16 who want to work in the performing arts. These awards are only available if you take the Trinity College London Qualification at one of these 21 accredited providers.
Help with childcare while you're studying
There are a number of ways to get help with childcare while you study, such as the Care to learn scheme if you're under 20.
Help with transport costs
You may be entitled to help with travel to and from your place of study, but the type of help you get depends on where you live in England. For example, if you're studying in London you could qualify for free transport on London buses and trams. Each local authority offers different support, simply type in your postcode to see what's available in your area.
Career Development Loan
OK, it's a loan, so not free money, but a Career Development Loan (CDL) can help to pay for up to two years of learning, or up to three years if the course includes one year's relevant practical work experience. A CDL can support many full-time, part-time, or distance-learning courses and you don't have to pay any interest until your course is finished. You can apply for between £300 and £10,000 over two years from a participating bank. Be aware that you will have to repay your loan whether you complete the course or not. Carefully consider whether you can afford a loan and how you will pay it back before taking one out. You should also research the course provider thoroughly and make sure they are reputable before agreeing to any loan offered either by them or the bank.
For more information about funding to go to university, see our Student Funding for Uni page.
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