The 16 to 19 Bursary and Free School Meals Fund aims to provide financial support for students who face financial barriers to participation in education.

There are two types of 16 to 19 Bursaries:

Vulnerable Bursary


Students must be aged 16 but under 19 on 31st August and be –

  • In care
  • A Care leaver
  • Receiving Income Support or Universal Credit in their own right and living independently or claiming these benefits and financially supporting themselves and someone who is dependent on them and living with them such as a child or partner
  • Receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in their own right as well as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or UC in their own right

Students aged 19 or over on 31st August are not eligible for the vulnerable bursary

Discretionary Bursary


Students must be aged 16 but under 19 on 31st August

Students aged 19 or over are only eligible to receive a discretionary bursary if they are continuing onto year 2 of a 2-year course that they started at age 16 to 18. The student or parent must also be in receipt of a means tested benefit.

Students aged between 19-24 with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will also be eligible for a discretionary bursary if the student or parent receives a means tested benefit.

Eligible Means Tested Benefits

  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) – Income Based
  • Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – Income Related
  • Support under part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child or Working Tax Credit with an annual gross income of £21,000 or less
  • Universal Credit

Students must meet the residency criteria set by the Education and Funding Agency to be eligible for a bursary

What will I receive?

Successful applicants will receive the following as long as they are enrolled on the course:

  • A bursary paid directly into the student’s own bank account at intervals during the academic year, depending on good attendance
  • Essential equipment, kits, uniform and compulsory trips will be paid for upon the students’ request
  • Free Meals provided in college at your campus

How do I apply?

The bursary and free meals application form will be online and can be found on the student intranet (VLE). Students need to log in to their student account where there will be a link to apply for the bursary via Pay My Student, complete the application form and upload evidence of benefits/household income before submitting the application. Your application will be assessed for eligibility for the bursary, meals and any essential equipment, kit/uniform or compulsory trips. Students will receive confirmation of the outcome via their student email and can log into Pay My Student to see the outcome of their application.

All financial support is subject to available funding and is not guaranteed.

Childcare Support – Care to Learn

The Government childcare support scheme Care to Learn is available to pay childcare fees while you study. If you are aged under 20 at the start of your course, the main carer for your child, your childcare provider is Ofsted registered and you meet the residency criteria, you may be eligible to receive Care to Learn childcare support. For more information and to apply click this link: https://www.gov.uk/care-to-learn/eligibility

16+ Zip Oyster Card

Children aged 16 and 17 can get a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard.

Adults who live in a London borough who were 18 on 31st August and in full-time education, can apply for a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard to get free travel on buses and trams.

The 16+ Zip Oyster will give 50% off adult pay as you go fares on bus, Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London.

If you live in London, you will get free travel on buses and trams and child rate 7 Day, monthly or longer Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes

How to apply

A parent or guardian must apply for a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard if their child is under 18. If you’re 18, you must apply for your 16+ Zip Oyster photocard and create your own photocard web account. The cost is £20 payable to TFL.

Apply online at: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/free-and-discounted-travel/16-plus-zip-oyster-photocard