Financial support and bursaries

We can support with the costs of studying at college for students who need it most.


Bursary funds for 16-18 and 19+ who do not need an Advanced Learner Loan have now been allocated, so we have temporarily closed the travel, course costs, and childcare bursaries.

Awards for students who have withdrawn from their courses have been adjusted, so we hope to reallocate these funds to more students for the above bursaries.

We are continuing to receive all complete bursary applications. These will be placed on a waiting list and funds will be awarded on a first-come basis.

Bursaries that remain open for 22-23:

  • 16-18 EFSA and hardship meals
  • Bursaries for vulnerable young people
  • All bursaries for students with an Advanced Learner Loan

This does not affect bursary applications for courses beginning in September 2023.

How we can help you manage the cost of college

A wide range of bursaries are available, helping you with the cost of studying with us. All bursaries are subject to you meeting eligibility criteria.

Please note: You must submit a new application each academic year, even if your course runs for more than one year.

What is a bursary?

A bursary provides financial support to help students overcome any financial barriers to be able to do their course. It can be used to pay for essential travel, meal credits, books, equipment, and childcare.

All decisions about which students receive a discretionary bursary and how much bursary they receive are based on each student’s individual circumstances and their actual financial need.

 What bursaries are available?

Travel bursaries are available to support students with travel costs to and from college.

To be eligible, students must live three miles or more from the nearest Activate Learning campus offering the course they are studying.

Travel Bursary Terms and Conditions 2022–2023

Support is not provided towards the cost of taxis.

Students who apply by Friday 5 August 2022, will have their pass available at the start of term. During our peak application period during August and September it can take up to four weeks to process your application and confirm if you have been awarded a bursary, so you will be responsible for any travel costs until your financial support is in place.

How will support with travel be provided?

The support provided will be by the most cost - effective method, which will either be a travel pass or travel expenses paid into your bank account.

Travel Passes

We will buy a travel pass on the student's behalf for the journey they detailed on their financial support application form or a pass for the most cost-effective method of travel.

We buy travel passes from the following travel companies:

Students who are awarded a Stagecoach South pass will be provided with a code to order their own travel pass from the company’s website.

Passes are usually available for collection within three weeks of award confirmation.

  • Bursary awards are made from the date the bursary application was assessed; we do not backdate awards. Students are responsible for the cost of their travel until their pass arrives.
  • Students are sent a text message as soon as their pass is available for them to collect from the Advice Centre.
  • If the course is not based at an Activate Learning campus, the pass will be posted to the students place of learning.
  • We recommend students take a photograph of their travel pass; this is so that they will have the pass number if a replacement pass is needed.
  • If the pass requires photo ID it is the student's responsibility to provide and insert the photograph, the pass will not be valid for travel unless the ID photograph has been added.
  • We recommend passes are stored in a plastic wallet to avoid damaging the magnetic strip on the back.
  • Any passes not collected within two weeks will be returned to the travel company and there may be a fee for reissuing the pass.

How do I arrange for a replacement travel pass if it is lost or damaged?

What happens if I withdraw from college or complete my course early?

  • You must return your travel pass to the Advice Centre, a charge may be made for passes not returned.
  • A stop will be placed on travel smart cards so that they can no longer be used.

Travel Expenses

Students may be awarded travel expenses in the following circumstances:

  • It is the most cost-effective method of support.
  • Public transport is not available for the journey.
  • They have evidenced exceptional need to travel by car rather than by public transport, for example due to childcare arrangements or for health reasons. Expenses for fuel are awarded at 23p per mile for the return journey and paid by direct transfer.
  • We do not have a purchasing agreement with the travel company.
  • They are enrolled on an online course and need to attend exams on campus. payments are made in arrears. If the journey is by public transport payments are made when receipts have been provided.
  • The support is towards a contribution for Special Education Needs (SEN) travel provide by the Council. Students should let us know the estimated amount you will be required to pay the Council when they apply for a bursary.
    • SEN transport invoices need to be provided by the 25 November 2022. Funds awarded for SEN transport are paid to student's bank accounts in termly instalments, it is the responsibility of the student / parent to pay the invoice.

If I am awarded a payment, how will it be paid?

  • We will pay funds fortnightly in advance into the student's own bank account, (except where payment is reimbursing travel for exams). Click here to download the payment schedule.
  • Where students are traveling by public transport, receipts for every journey must be submitted half termly. Future travel expenses will be reduced or stopped if receipts are not provided or if funds have not been spent on travel to college.
  • If the student has not attended their course their next payment may be reduced or not paid. This is because funds from previous payments will not have been spent on travel to college. These previous payments are to be used towards travel costs for the next fortnight.
  • Students who are absent for a period of four continuous weeks or more (excluding college holidays) all future payments will be stopped until the student returns to attending their course.

Bank details

If we need to make a payment to you, we will do it by direct transfer into the student’s bank account.

The European Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) does not expect bursary payments to be paid into another person’s account, except in exceptional circumstances where a student is unable to administer their own account.

A basic bank account (which students can open at age 16) allows BACS transfers and allows the student to withdraw money. More information on basic bank accounts can be found at

Students must only spend any bursary payments made to them on the support that has been identified as necessary to help them take part in education.

The receipt of the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund does not affect receipt of other means tested benefits paid to families, such as IS, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit or, generally, Universal Credit (UC). If a student is in receipt of DLA (or PIP) and ESA, parents can no longer receive certain household/family benefits for that child, such as child benefit.

A bursary to support students with the cost of essential items needed for their study programme.

Students aged 16–18

Any equipment and materials that are essential for a course may be borrowed from college, therefore the course costs bursary cannot support these costs.

All decisions about which students receive a discretionary bursary and how much bursary they receive are based on each student’s individual circumstances and their actual financial need.

The fund supports:

  • Essential books, specialist clothing/footwear that are essential for the course.
  • Field trips that support the learning aim up to a maximum £180.
  • UCAS fees.
  • Costs associated with attending university open events/interviews.
  • Exam resits.
  • Work/ industry placement costs such as additional travel, meal credits if eligible.
  • accreditation fees, professional membership fees and fees or charges due to external bodies.

Students aged 19+

When assessing your application, we take into consideration your individual circumstances including the size of your family and participation costs. If your costs are high, we will consider applications with an income slightly above £30,000.

We can support with:

  • Costs as detailed above for students aged 16–18, except for costs that are included in your course fee.
  • Examination fees.
  • Accreditation fees, professional membership fees and fees or charges due to external bodies.
  • Registration fees.
  • To support learners on a traineeship including the work placement element.
  • In exceptional circumstances, we award funds to support with course fees, which will be initially at a value of 50%.

Support paying your course fee

  • Students who are enrolled on funded courses, where the course is not eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan may, in exceptional circumstances, initially be awarded 50% towards their course fee.
  • If you have confirmation that you have been awarded an Advanced Learner Loan, we can support you with the cost of items needed for your course, bursary funds are not awarded towards your tuition fee.

Students enrolled on ESOL courses

  • Course costs bursaries to support towards your course fees are awarded for the course you enrolled on at the time of your application.
  • There is no need to complete another bursary application if you need support for courses that you enrol on later in the academic year; you will need to let us know that you have enrolled on another course so that we can increase your bursary award.

Please note bursary funds do not support towards laptops or other IT equipment, extra-curricular activities, counselling or counselling supervision.

How do I inform you of the costs I would like support with?

Please complete a course costs bursary form.

You may submit additional course costs forms throughout the year if you have more course costs e.g., trips, university open days, without the need to complete a full bursary application each time.

Completing the form for different costs:

  • Items for your course: we ask that you buy the items you need for your course then attach the receipts to the course costs form. You may not need to provide receipts if your faculty are able to purchase the items for you.
  • For fees that are payable to the college e.g., field trips or course fees, complete the form. We do not need receipts.
  • If you already have confirmation you have been awarded a course costs bursary for 2022-23 you are only required to pay 50% of the tuition fee to college.

When you have been approved as eligible for bursary funds faculty may support you by buying the essential items you need; you should speak with the faculty coordinator and show them your email confirming you are eligible for bursary funds. Bursary funds awarded to you would be paid to the faculty to cover the costs.

How do I submit my course costs form and receipts?

Submit completed forms by hand to an Adviser at the Advice Centre or email it to

How do you provide the support?

Funds will be paid by:

  • By direct transfer to your college account if the fee is payable to Activate Learning, this will reduce the amount you owe.
  • If you have paid the fee to college in full, we will refund you the amount you have been awarded by direct transfer into your bank account.
  • If you have purchased an item from a supplier, we will refund you by making a direct transfer payment into your bank account.

When you complete your course or if you withdraw from college, all equipment and books purchased using bursary funds must be returned to your faculty.


If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will receive a free breakfast or lunch on the days you are in college.

Meals credits (taken at lunch or alternatively at breakfast)

  • Any Standard Box hot meal from the counter offer (not including cook to order pizzas or burgers) and bottle of water
  • Any sandwich or panini and bottle of water
  • Any Salad Box (max. two protein items) and bottle of water
  • Any breakfast pastry, sausage roll or porridge. Any small tea/Americano coffee or bottle of water

If your course is not based at a campus with a refectory, or you have been awarded meals while attending on work experience you will receive a fortnightly, term-time direct transfer payment (£3.50 a day) into your bank account to buy a meal. You will be required to submit receipts half termly for each meal purchased.

To be eligible you must be aged 16–18 on 31 August 2022; or continuing a study programme you began aged 16–18; or have an EHCP plan and provide evidence that your household is in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • 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 guaranteed element of State Pension Credit.
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of 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 £7,400 pa (after tax and not including any benefits you get).

If you received free meals last year and we can confirm the award, you will continue to be eligible for free meals if you let us know you want them. We may ask you to provide your free meal entitlement letter.

Parents who are self-employed and in receipt of Universal Credit will need to provide:

  • Three months Universal Credit award letters and a copy of their tax return bill.
  • A completed self-declaration form.

Please note: Working Tax Credit is not a qualifying benefit for free meals.

If you are not eligible for meal credits under the standard criteria, you may be able to access these through Student Support. Please speak to a member of the Student Support Team.

How are Meal Credits provided?

Students based at a campus take up their meal credits through college outlets. Payment is made for your meal by presenting your ID card at the checkout.

How to enable your college ID card so it will work at the till

  • Present your card at the card reader of any college printer and log in to the printer using your network ID and password.
  • To check your card has been enabled, tap your ID card on the printer card reader if the printer logs you in automatically, your card will now work at the till.
  • If you have any queries about how to register your card or experience any difficulties, please come and see an adviser in the Advice Centre.

If your course is not based at a campus with a refectory, you will receive a fortnightly term time Direct transfer payment (£3.50 a day) into your bank account to buy a meal. You will be required to submit receipts half termly for each meal purchased.

Receipts for meal credit expenses

If you are awarded meal credit expense payments, receipts for all meals bought must be submitted to the Advice Centre half termly. Future awards may be reduced or stopped if receipts have not been provided or if the funds have not been spent on meals.

Schedule for when payments for meal credit expenses due in bank accounts.

If you are eligible for Meal Credits and attend a placement you will need to provide details of your placement on a course costs form.

This bursary supports eligible students who have a financial need to enable them to remain in education.

Students who live in Scotland or Wales are not eligible for a bursary for vulnerable groups. Students should approach their home local authority in Scotland or Wales and apply for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Students who meet the criteria for bursaries for vulnerable groups are not automatically entitled to a bursary if they do not have financial needs or their financial needs are covered from other sources.

Bursary fund payments are not made as regular payments for living costs.

What are the defined vulnerable groups?

Students in the defined vulnerable groups are:

  • In the care of the Local Authority.
  • A care leaver
  • Receiving Income Support (IS), or Universal Credit (UC) because they are financially supporting themselves or financially supporting themselves and someone who is dependent on them and living with them such as a child or partner. Please note students must be entitled to the benefits in their own right.
  • 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

Do I need to provide any evidence to prove my entitlement to a vulnerable bursary?

Yes. The evidence you're required to show is:

  • Students in care or a care leaver: written confirmation of your current or previous looked-after status from the relevant local authority.
  • Students in receipt of Income Support or Universal Credit (UC): a copy of their Income Support or UC award notice. This must clearly state that the claim is in the student's name and confirm they are entitled to the benefits in their own right. The evidence must not state any conditions that prevent them from participating in further education or training. A tenancy agreement or utility bill in their own name and if relevant a child benefit receipt /children’s birth certificate is also required.
  • Students receiving UC/ESA and Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments: a copy of their UC claim from DWP. Evidence of receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment must also be provided. Both benefits must be in the students' own name.

UC claimants should be able to print off details of their award from their online account or provide a screenshot of their award.

Students can also contact their UC Work Coach (or relevant Benefit Office if they are receiving IS or ESA) and ask them for help in providing evidence of receiving benefits.

How do you assess my financial need?

  • Students will be assessed by the Student Support team to determine whether they have a financial need for a bursary for vulnerable groups and if so, how much vulnerable bursary they need to participate in your course
  • Students who do not have an actual financial need because their costs have been met or because they have no relevant costs may not be awarded a bursary

How is the support provided?

  • Support is awarded in kind where possible; this may include travel passes, meal credits, essential books, equipment, specialist clothing/footwear, field trips, UCAS fees and University open events.
  • You may be awarded a vulnerable bursary of up to £1,200 including items provided in kind.
  • If the study programme lasts for less than 30 weeks or if you are on a part-time programme you will be awarded a pro-rata amount.
  • Payments are paid pro-rata from the date the fully completed bursary application was received.


  • Students assessed as needing a payment or a series of payments to enable them to participate in education, for example will receive payments by Direct transfer into their own bank account
  • Payments may be made fortnightly or ad hoc and may be reduced or not authorized if you have not met the Attendance and Student Behaviour criteria. The impact on attendance that might be caused by illness, caring responsibilities or other exceptional circumstances will be considered.

Students who are absent for a period of four continuous weeks or more (excluding college holidays) payments will be stopped unless there is evidence that they intend to return

The bursary provides a contribution towards the cost of accommodation for students who are enrolled on a specialist subject that is not available where they live. 

Am I eligible for an accommodation bursary?

To be eligible you must:

  • Have a net household income of less than £32,000.
  • Be planning to study a furniture programme or WASPS Rugby programme at City of Oxford College or a land-based programme at Merrist Wood College.
  • Be aged under 19 years old at the start of your full-time study programme and live further than 15 miles from the college. N.B. The bursary does not support a student to participate in general FE provision that is widely available or to enable them to participate in additional activity, for example, to take part in a specific sport.

How is the support provided?

  • A contribution is paid directly to the landlord towards the costs of accommodation.
  • Awards are based on individual circumstances and the type of accommodation and length of stay required.
  • Students may be awarded travel support of up to £400 from their term time accommodation to their campus.

Support with accommodation for the academic year as follows:

  • Band 1: up to £25,000
    Up to £3,458 for five days / week residence.
    Up to £4,100 for seven days/ week residence for students aged 18+.
  • Band 2: £25,001–£32,000
    Up to £1,152 for five days / week residence.

Please note: Where students leave part way through the year, transfer to a non-specialist course, or are excluded from their accommodation, their accommodation bursary payments will stop on the date they left their course or were excluded.

Students aged 19+ in receipt of an accommodation bursary will only be supported with a travel bursary in exceptional circumstances.

This is a bursary fund to support with childcare costs whilst studying.

I am a parent under 20 years old, can I get help with the cost of Childcare?

Care to Learn can help you with childcare costs while you study.

Care to Learn can help with the cost of:

  • Your childcare, including deposit and registration fees.
  • A childcare taster session for up to five days.
  • Keeping your childcare place over the summer holidays.
  • Taking your child to their childcare provider.

 You can get up to £160 per child per week if you live outside London.

How do I apply for Care to Learn?

Apply online at

Do I need to provide any evidence?

You will need to provide evidence that you receive Child Benefit or a copy of your child's birth certificate to

I am a student aged 19+, can I apply for the Childcare Bursary?

You may be able to receive childcare costs to support time needed to attend timetabled sessions at college plus a realistic amount of time to travel to college to the maximum award.

How do I apply for the Childcare bursary?

  • Complete the 19+ Bursary Form 2022–23 confirming you would like to apply for the Childcare bursary.
  • Use an Ofsted registered childcare provider.
  • Complete a Childcare Provider form.
  • Provide copies of your child/rens birth certificate.
  • Provide a copy of your Child Benefit letter to include your child benefit number.

How is the support provided?

  • The amount of funding is discretionary but will normally be for a maximum of £200 per week per child.
  • Funds will be initially allocated for up to two children per household.
  • Funding for any additional children will be subject to availability.
  • Learners enrolled onto on-line courses are awarded up to three days childcare for full-time courses and one day's childcare for part-time courses.
  • Funding is for timetabled classes, and it does not support independent study.
  • Bursary funds are paid directly to the childcare provider after we have received their monthly or termly invoice.

Please note: Both students and the childcare provider must return a signed copy of our full Childcare Bursary Terms and Conditions documents before invoices will be paid.


Apply by 22 August 2022 as applications submitted after this date may not be processed within our standard time scales.

Applications will only be processed if they have been completed and submitted with all the evidence exactly as detailed in section 2 of the application.

We will carry out a financial assessment for each student to establish their household income, and to establish the costs the student has to take part in the course.

Bursary applications must be signed by the student to confirm they give formal agreement to their bursary fund conditions and terms of payment

Any equipment / books bought with bursary funds must be returned to their faculty coordinator when they complete their course or withdraw from college.


  • Financial support communications will be sent to both the students and parents/carers (emergency contacts) of students ages 16/17 on 31 August 2022.

Higher Education students

See our HE page for financial support information.

What are the general eligibility and evidence requirements for the bursaries?

Students must be assessed as a ‘home’ student and enrolled on a funded further education course. If you are not a UK citizen, you can check if you are a home student by using the UKCISA website.

There are exceptions to this which are detailed below:

  • Residents of Scotland are not eligible for bursary funds.
  • Welsh residents are eligible for a bursary, except bursaries for vulnerable young people.
  • If you are a resident of Wales or Scotland, you should apply for either Welsh EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) or Scottish EMA, rather than applying for a bursary for vulnerable groups.
  • Students aged 15 or below on 31 August 2022 and apprentices are not eligible for FE bursaries.
  • Students aged 19 or above whose course is eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan are not eligible for a bursary until they have confirmation of the loan.

To be eligible for our bursaries, students need to meet the household income thresholds detailed below:

    • For students aged 16–18, 19+ LLDD students with EHCPs, students aged 19 continuing on a course started aged 16–18, the household income should be £25,000 or less.
    • For students aged 19+, the household income should be £30,000 or less (except 19+ students already referenced above).

If you are eligible to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan and choose to pay your own course costs or your Advanced Learner Loan is not approved, you are not eligible for bursary support.

We assess financial needs using household income, along with individual circumstances, such as the number of dependent children in the household.

Evidence of household income is required for all bursary applications, except for asylum seekers aged 19 and over and students who are looked after or in care, who will need to supply local authority confirmation of their status.

Applicants must apply for all statutory benefits before applying for a bursary. For further information on government benefits you may be eligible for, please visit

Asylum seekers

  • Aged 16–18 either provide evidence of household income or, if supported by the Local Authority, evidence required for bursaries for vulnerable young people.
  • Aged 19+ who are eligible to be enrolled on a course, are eligible for bursaries without submitting evidence of household income.

Please click here for a detailed list of all evidence required for each bursary, including information regarding how we assess household income.

How to apply for financial support

An introduction 

All student finance applications are confidential, so you shouldn’t worry about applying.   

Funds are limited so please apply early to avoid any disappointment, applications will be processed on a first come, first-served basis. 

The application form will only be processed if it has been completed and submitted with the required evidence so don’t forget to include this with your application.  

We strongly recommend that you submit your application before Monday 22 August 2022, as applications received after this date may not be processed within our standard timescales of 4 weeks. Bursary payments will not be backdated for applications made after the start of your course. 

If you need any help completing your application form, one of our Advice and Admissions Team will be happy to help you either at one of our Advice Centres on each campus, by calling 0800 612 6008 or send an enquiry. 

  • Find out how you plan to travel to college and check the travel company’s timetables. If you have the option to travel by bus or train you may want to choose the transport with the shortest journey time. If you are not applying for financial support, consider if a 16/17 Rail Saver or other rail card will reduce the cost of the journey. 
  • Check your Local Authorities post 16 transport policy to find out if they provide support towards you travel costs
  • Course costs: check if there are any items you need for your course, your faculty will be able to advise you on this.  
  • If you need childcare to attend your course, research the childcare provider you would like to use and gather an estimated cost. 
  • Find the documents evidencing the household income that you are going to submit with your financial support application. 
  • Complete a financial support application. 
  • All forms must be signed by the student. 
  • If you complete the form electronically you will need to print and sign the form. 
  • Submit your application along with the required evidence. Details of how to submit the form are on the application. 
  • We will send you an email to confirm that we have received your application within seven working days. 
  • If we do not have all the information we need, we will send you an email to explain what else is needed.  
  • We will send you an email within four weeks of receipt of your complete application to confirm the bursaries you have awarded. You will receive a separate email for each bursary you have applied to. 
  • If we are not able to award you a bursary, we will let you know the reason. We will include details of how you can appeal the decision. 
  • Let us know if there are any changes to your details that affect your bursary, for example your timetable changes, you are going on a work placement or you need additional support for example to attend University Open days, pay a UCAS fee or to go on a field trip. 
  • Let us know if you change the bank account we are to make payments to 
  • If you are planning on changing your childcare provider let us know beforehand  so that we can ensure we pay invoices to the new childcare provider. 

Notifying us of a change of details


If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your application and wish to appeal, please submit your appeal in writing with a supporting statement no later than seven days from the date of the application decision.

Appeals will be reviewed by a panel including the Group Head of Advice and Admissions and Group Head of Student Support. Once the appeal has been considered and a decision has been communicated, there is no further right of appeal.