Support while you study

In this section we aim to provide you with useful information and guidance about what support there is available to you as an adult student.

Discretionary Learner Support (DLS) helps students aged 19 and over meet the costs of a further education course.

The money, which is paid by the learning provider (college) and funded by the Skills Funding Agency, can help with costs such as travel, accommodation, course materials and equipment and, in some cases, childcare.

The amount you receive and what it can be used for will depend on your provider’s scheme and your circumstances.

To be eligible you must be on :

  • Means-tested benefit
  • Disability benefit
  • Low income
  • Studying at a publicly funded college

DLS help with childcare costs
Some colleges may use their DLS funds to help students aged 20 and over pay for childcare. Contact your college for more information.

Students in full-time, publicly funded further education can get childcare grants to help pay for childcare for children under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs.

You can get grants of up to:

  • £155.24 a week for one child
  • £266.15 a week for two or more children

The amount you receive will depend on:

  • Your household income
  • The cost of your childcare
  • The number of children you have

You must be eligible for student finance to apply for a Childcare Grant.

If you’re under 20, caring for your own child, and enrolled in a publicly funded further education course in England you may be able to get Care to Learn while you study.

To be eligible, you must be:

  • The main carer of your child/children
  • At least 16 years old
  • Under 20 years old at the start of their course
  • A UK citizen or national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country
  • studying a course that is publicly funded (check with your school or college)
  • Using an approved childcare provider

Care to Learn payments go direct to your childcare provider

If you become 20 years during your course of study you may choose to remain on the scheme or to apply for assistance under the FE Support Funds (discretionary).

You are not eligible if you are:

  • An apprentice who gets a salary
  • Studying a higher education course at university