Financial support and bursaries

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


How can we help you manage the cost of college?

A wide range of bursaries are available, helping you with the cost of studying with us. This page is dedicated to our Further Education courses. For university-level, please see our Higher Education financial support information.

All bursaries are subject to you meeting eligibility criteria. Each student's individual circumstances and their actual financial need are taken into consideration.

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 they may face to completing a course.  

A wide range of bursaries are available, helping you with the cost of studying with us. They can be used to pay for essential travel, meal credits, essential trips, and childcare, and accommodation for specialist courses. 

All bursaries are subject to you meeting eligibility criteria, with each student’s individual circumstances and actual financial need taken into consideration. 

See below for more information about our bursaries, eligibility and how to apply.  

All applications remain confidential, please refer to our Privacy Policy on our website Privacy and Data Protection - Activate Learning  

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

  • Apply by 19th August 2024 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 must have 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 2024.

 What bursaries are available?

We encourage students who meet the eligibility criteria for Meal Credits to apply and take up their free meals. 


If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will receive a free breakfast or lunch only on the days that you attend college. 

To be eligible, you must be either: 

  • Aged 16-18 on 31st August 2024 
  • Continuing a course you began when 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 (Please note: Working Tax Credit is not a qualifying benefit for free meals) 
  • Universal Credit with net earnings not exceeding the equivalent of £7,400 per year (after tax and not including any benefits you get) 
  • Parents who are self-employed need to provide: 
  • their UC award letter 
  • a copy of their HMRC Tax calculation letter or their Company Registration form if the business is new 
  • evidence their net earnings do not exceed the UC threshold 
  • sign a self-declaration form to confirm their net earnings do not exceed £7,400     

Alternatively, 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 that you want them. We may ask you to provide your free meal entitlement letter. 

Meal Credits (taken at lunch or alternatively at breakfast) 

  • any standard box hot meal from the counter and a bottle of water  
  • any sandwich or panini and a bottle of water 
  • any salad box (max. two protein items) and a bottle of water 
  • any breakfast pastry, sausage roll or porridge and any small tea, Americano coffee or bottle of water 

Supermarket eVouchers 

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 eVouchers by email or text. You will be able to select the supermarket of your choice to buy your lunch. 

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.

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 buy travel passes from the following travel companies:

Click here for details on how to arrange for a replacement pass.

In the event that we are unable to award a travel bursary, we recommend that you take a look at Local Authority Transport Policies for possible support.

Travel Expenses

Students may be awarded travel expenses, but only in the following circumstances:

  • If it is the most cost-effective method of support.
  • If public transport is not available for the journey.
  • If students have evidenced the need to travel by car due to exceptional circumstances. 
  • If we do not have a purchasing agreement with the desired travel company.
  • If the support is towards a contribution for Special Education Needs (SEN) travel, provided by the local Council. 

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

All students have access to essential materials, consumables, kit, equipment and tools to complete their course. There is no need to buy these items, so bursary funds do not support these costs. 

Students are free to buy essential items for their courses, but they should be aware that this will be at their own cost. 

For students aged 16-18 we can support with: 

  • Essential specialist protective clothing that needs to be fitted 
  • Essential field trips 
  • UCAS fees 
  • AAT Membership fee 
  • Costs associated with attending university open events, interviews and exam resits 

For students aged 19+ we can support with: 

  • Costs as detailed above for 16-18 students, except for costs that are included in your course fee 
  • Childcare costs 
  • Exam fees 
  • In exceptional circumstances, we award funds to support with course fees: 
  • Students who are enrolled on funded courses, where the course is not eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan, may initially be awarded 50% towards their course fee 
  • If you receive or are eligible for the Advanced Learner Loan, you are not eligible for funding help towards tuition fees 

How do we provide support? 

Awards for course items will only be made to students with costs directly related to participating in their course, which are detailed on the course participation record.  

Faculty will provide students who have been awarded a bursary with the items detailed on the course participation record. 

We recommend that students don’t buy their own specialist protective clothing if they are eligible for a bursary, as faculty will provide these items to eligible students. 

Funds for UCAS fees and university visits will be paid by: 

  • Direct transfer to your college account. If the fee is payable to Activate Learning, this will reduce the amount you owe 
  • Or if you have paid the fee to college in full, we will refund you the amount you have been awarded by direct transfer to 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. Any equipment not returned will be charged. 

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

What are the defined vulnerable groups? 

Students are classed as vulnerable if they are any of the following: 

  • 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 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 

How is the support provided? 

  • Where possible, support is awarded in kind. This may include travel passes, meal credits, specialist clothing/footwear, field trips, UCAS fees, and university open events. 
  • You may be awarded a vulnerable bursary of up to £1200 including items provided in kind 
  • If the course lasts for fewer than 30 weeks or if you are on a part-time course, you will be awarded a pro-rata amount 
  • Payments are paid pro-rata from the date the fully completed bursary application was received 

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

Free meals in further education has its own eligibility criteria and a student who meets the criteria for a defined vulnerable group bursary is not automatically eligible for a free meal. 

This bursary contributes to the cost of accommodation for students enrolled in a specialist subject that is not available where they live. 


To be eligible you must: 

  • Be planning to study a specialist subject that is not available where you live i.e. land-based and basketball courses at Merrist Wood, furniture courses at the City of Oxford College, or Activate Rugby Academy programmes (Please note: The bursary does not support a student to participate in general further education provision, or enable them to participate in additional activity, for example taking part in a specific sport) 
  • Have a journey of more than 2 hours one way on public transport. 
  • Have a household income of: 
  • 16-18 students: £35,000 for a single child household, plus £1,700 for every additional dependent child aged 18 or under living at the same address 
  • 19+ students: £35,000 + £1,700 for each dependent child under 18 living at the same address 

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. 

Support with accommodation for the academic year is as follows: 

Gross household income 





Up to £30,000 for single child household + £1,700 per additional dependent child 

Up to £30,000 + £1,700 per dependent child 

Up to £4,500 

£30,001-£35,000 for single child household + £1,700 per additional dependent child 

£30,001-£35,000 + £1,700 per dependent child 

Up to £4,000 

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 leave the course or are 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 childcare costs whilst studying. 

Parents aged 16-19 

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 receive up to £180 per child per week if you live outside London. 

The childcare bursary can top up Care to Learn funds by a maximum of £50 a week 

Apply for Care to Learn online at https://www.gov.uk/care-to-learn 

Do I need to provide any evidence? 

You will need to provide evidence that the maximum Care to Learn award of £180 is being paid, and that you receive Child Benefit or a copy of your child’s birth certificate to FEbursaries@activatelearning.ac.uk 

Parents aged 20+ 

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

How is the support provided? 

  • The amount of funding is discretionary but will normally be for a maximum of £230 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 online courses are awarded up to three days of 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 document before invoices will be paid. 

How do I apply for a childcare bursary? 

  • Complete the 19+ Further Education Bursary Application 24/25 confirming you would like to apply for the childcare bursary 
  • Use an Ofsted-registered childcare provider 
  • Complete a Childcare Provider Form which is available from the reception area at the college or phone 0800 612 6008 for a form to be sent to you. to let us know the details of your placement 
  • Provide a copy of your Child Benefit letter including your child benefit number 
  • Confirm that you have used any other government childcare funding to attend college before being awarded a childcare bursary 

If you are going to a work placement and have successfully applied for a bursary, we can support you with:  

  • Your travel costs if you live more than 3 miles from your placement 
  • Supermarket evouchers – if you are eligible for meal credits 

To let us know the details of what you need, please complete a Work Placement form.

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

Every bursary has its own specific eligibility criteria, but in order to qualify, you must first meet the general eligibility and evidence requirements. 

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

  • For students who are 16-18 funded, i.e. who are: 
  • Aged 16-18 
  • Aged 19 and continuing a course they started when 16-18 
  • Or aged 19+ with an EHCP 

The household income should be under £30,000 for a single-child household + £1,700 for every additional dependent child aged 18 or under living at the same address 

  • For students aged 19+ (except those listed above), the household income should be under £35,000 + £1,700 for every dependent child aged 18 or under living at the same address 

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

For full eligibility and evidence requirements for each bursary, please refer to the relevant FE bursary application form and guidance notes. 

How to apply for financial support

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.

  • Make sure that you meet the eligibility criteria for each bursary you wish to apply for and have the supporting documents to evidence your eligibility 
  • Travel: if you are applying for a travel bursary, find out how you plan to travel to college and check the relevant travel company’s timetables 
  • For course costs, check if there are any items that you need for your course; your faculty will be able to advise you on this 
  • Childcare: please research the childcare provider you would like to use and gather an estimated cost 
  • Complete and submit the online application with all the required evidence, using the button at the top of this page
  • All applications must be submitted with the required evidence 
  • You will receive an email to confirm that we have received your application within 7 working days 
  • If more information is required, we will send you an email to explain what else is needed 

Please note: We are unable to begin processing your application until it has been completed in full and you have included all of the required evidence. Please refer to our Bursary Evidence Guide.

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

  • We will send you an email within four weeks of receipt of your complete application to confirm the bursaries you have been awarded. You will receive a separate email for each bursary you have applied for 
  • If we are unable to award you a bursary, we will let you know the reason and 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, if your timetable changes or you are going on a work placement. You may need additional support to attend University Open days, pay a UCAS fee, or go on a field trip 
  • Let us know if you change the bank account that we are to make payments to 
  • If you plan on changing your childcare provider, let us know beforehand so we can ensure we pay invoices to the new childcare provider 


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.