Bursary Fund

You could get a bursary to help with education-related costs if you’re aged 16 to 19 and:

  • studying at a publicly funded school or college in England - not a university
  • on a training course, including unpaid work experience

A publicly funded school is one that doesn’t charge you for attending it.

What a bursary is for

A bursary is money that you, or your education or training provider, can use to pay for things like:

  • clothing, books and other equipment for your course
  • transport and lunch on days you study or train

There are 2 types of 16 to 19 bursary.

Vulnerable student bursary

You could get a bursary worth up to £1,200, depending on your circumstances and benefits.

Discretionary bursary

You could get a discretionary bursary if you need financial help but don’t qualify for a vulnerable student bursary. Your education or training provider decides how much you get and what it’s used for.

How your bursary is paid

Your provider will decide how you get your bursary. You might be:

  • paid in full or in instalments
  • paid in cash, by cheque or through a bank account
  • given things like a travel pass, free meals or books instead of money

Some providers also offer one-off payments to cover study trips or travel for university interviews.

Your provider could stop payments if you break their rules, for example about attendance or how your bursary is used.


A student must be aged 16 or over but under 19 on 31 August 2023 to be eligible for help from the bursary fund in the 2023 to 2024 academic year.

Students must be participating in provision that is subject to inspection by a public body that assures quality (for example Ofsted). The provision must also fall into one of these groups:

  • funded directly by us, or by us via a local authority
  • otherwise publicly funded and lead to a qualification (up to and including level 3) accredited by Ofqual or on our list of qualifications approved for funding

Students on apprenticeship programmes, or any waged training, are employed, rather than in education. They are not eligible for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Students must meet the residency criteria in ESFA funding regulations for post-16 provision. This document also specifies the evidence institutions must see and retain for audit to confirm eligibility for post-16 funding (and therefore meet the residency criteria for bursary fund eligibility).

Vulnerable student bursary

Students who meet the criteria, and who have a financial need, can apply for a bursary for vulnerable groups. The defined groups reflect that these students are unlikely to be receiving financial assistance from parents or carers, so may need a greater level of support to enable them to continue to participate. Students should be awarded the amount of support they need to participate based on an assessment of the types of costs they have and must not be automatically awarded £1,200. You must ensure students are eligible for the bursary for defined vulnerable groups in each year they require support.

The defined vulnerable groups are students who are:

  • in care
  • care leavers
  • 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
  • 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

UC has now fully rolled out and so young people aged 16 to 18 will no longer be in receipt of the other benefits listed above. However, students aged 19 to 25 and funded from the 16 to 19 budget (19+ continuers and those with an EHC plan) may still be in receipt of those other legacy benefits.

You’ll be told what evidence you need, for example benefit letters.

Discretionary bursary

Your school or college will have their own criteria for discretionary bursaries. They’ll look at your individual circumstances - this usually includes your family income.

Ask your school about their criteria and any evidence you’ll need.

How to claim

Apply to your school, college or training provider. 

When to apply

Apply once you know where you’ll study or train, so you’ll get your bursary as soon as possible.

You might need to reapply for a bursary for each year of your course. Check with your provider.