Financial support and bursaries

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


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. 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. Bursary forms for 2023-24 courses are now available.

What is a bursary?

A bursary provides financial support to help students overcome any financial barriers they may face to be able to do their 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.

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 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 11 August 2023 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 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 2023.

 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.

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 HERE

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 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 their own essential items for their course but should be aware that this will be at their own cost. 

Students aged 16–18

The fund supports:

  • Essential field trips 
  • Essential specialist protective clothing
  • UCAS fees
  • Costs associated with attending university open events/interviews.
  • Exam resits

Students aged 19+

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
  • 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, in exceptional circumstances, will 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 fees.

How do you 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 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:

  • 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.

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 only on the days that you attend college.

To be eligible, you must be aged 16-18 on 31 August 2023; or continuing a course 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.

Meals credits(taken at lunch or alternatively at breakfast)

  • Any standard box hot meal from the counter offer and a bottle of water (this does not include cook-to-order pizzas or burgers) 
  • 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. Any small tea/Americano coffee or a bottle of water

Meal credit expenses

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.

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

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

How is the support provided?

  • Support is awarded in kind where possible; 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 £1,200 including items provided in kind.
  • If the course lasts for less 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 from other sources.

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. 

To be eligible you must:

  • Have a net household income of less than £32,000.
  • 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 and Activate Rugby Academy programmes.
  • Live further than 15 miles from the college or have a journey of more than 1 hour and 45 minutes each way by public transport. N.B. The bursary does not support a student to participate in general further education 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.

Support with accommodation for the academic year as follows:

  • Band 1: up to £27,000 
    Up to £3,458 for five days/week residence. 
    Up to £4,100 for seven days/week residence for students aged 18+.
  • Band 2: £27,001–£32,000 
    Up to £2,305 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.

Parents aged 16-19 years old

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 a 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 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 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 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 document before invoices will be paid.

How do I apply for the Childcare bursary?

  • Complete the 19+ Further Education Bursary Application 2023-2024 confirming you would like to apply for the Childcare bursary.
  • Use an Ofsted registered childcare provider.
  • Complete a Childcare Provider Form
  • Provide a copy of a birth certificate for each child.
  • Provide a copy of your Child Benefit letter to include your child benefit number.

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

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 £27,000 or less.
  • For students aged 19+, the household income should be £30,000 or less (except 19+ students already referenced above).

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 local authority 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 the relevant FE bursary application form. 
  • All forms must be signed by the student. 
  • If completing the form electronically, the form will need to be printed and signed. 
  • Submit your application along with the required evidence; details of how to do this are on the application form.
  • 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.
  • 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 send you an email within four weeks of receipt of your complete application to confirm the bursaries you have been awarded. You will receive 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, 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.