Discretionary Learner Support Fund

Learners who are at least 19 years old, and facing financial hardship while studying on a further education (FE) course, may qualify for Learner Support.

This guide explains the eligibility criteria for discretionary funding offered through the Learner Support scheme and how to make a claim.

You would need to apply to the learning provider to get Learner Support funding (e.g. a further education college).

The amount you get would depend on your personal circumstances (e.g. your income). But, expenses that the money can help to pay for include:

  • Accommodation and meals
  • Childcare fees (for learners who qualify)
  • Course materials and equipment
  • Exam costs (e.g. one resit for eligible learners)
  • Travel, such as for public transport or taxis
  • Course fees (in exceptional circumstances)

Learner Support Fund Amount

The further education college (e.g. the learning provider) will make a decision on the amount that you get (based on your household income and the scheme restrictions).

Learning providers also decide how the money is paid out. As a rule, depending on the actual scheme and what the money will be used is for, it will either be:

  • A direct payment (meaning there is no requirement to repay it).
  • Paid to another person (e.g. a landlord).
  • A loan (which means it would need to be paid back).

Note: Student support staff at the college, or the National Careers Service, can provide further information on what other funding may be available.

Learner Support Fund Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for Learner Support funding you will need to:

  • Be at least nineteen (19) years of age. We also have a section explaining how the 16 to 19 bursary fund works for school leavers.
  • Study at a learning provider funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Your college can check and confirm this part.

The extra financial help with the costs of childcare only applies to learners from the age of twenty (20). But, you can apply for Care to Learn funding instead if you are nineteen.

Receiving other types of funding for adult learners does not stop you from applying for Learner Support, such as:

Note: You would not be able to apply for Learner Support funding if you get student finance for higher education (HE) or you are on a Community Learning course.

How to Claim Learner Support

Each learning provider (e.g. further education colleges) have a specific application process for you to follow. So, you will need to apply to them ‘directly’.

But, you can get more information from your student support services based at the college, about:

  • Getting help to fill in a Learner Support fund application form.
  • What other types of learner funding is available for students from the age of nineteen.
Appealing a Decision

You should contact your learning provider if you are unhappy with the decision made about your Learner Support application. They will explain more about how to appeal a decision.

Learner Support Fund Explained for United Kingdom