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Financial support

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The Bedford College Group offers a range of means-tested financial support packages to help overcome any barriers that could prevent you from coming to our Colleges. We have three funding streams:

  • 16-19 Bursary
  • Adult Support Fund
  • Advanced Learner Loans Bursary

Funding is mainly provided by the government to help meet specific financial hardship needs that prevents students from taking part in learning. This funding is awarded as a bursary to eligible students.

A bursary is money you could get which may help to pay for…

  • uniform, books and other equipment for your course
  • travel and lunch on days you are in College
  • professional membership and, in some cases, course fees (excludes those on Advanced Learner Loans).
  • loan equipment
  • discretionary help

The bursary you can apply for will normally depend on your household income, age and the type of course you study.

If you are aged 16-19 and need help with the cost of childcare, the Government’s Care to Learn scheme may be able to help. Find out more here.

If you are aged 20 or over (and studying on an eligible funded course) you can apply for the Childcare Bursary. To apply launch our Eligibility Checker.

2022/23 Financial Support Applications

After you’ve answered the questions in our eligibility checker, if you qualify you will then be able to start your application. You will be required to upload evidence to prove your eligibility so please have this to hand. You will also be able to save your work and come back to complete your application at a later time.

Launch eligibility checker

16-19 Bursary

Our 16-19 Bursary Fund is strictly for students aged 16-18 and less than 19 on 31 August 2022, who have lived in the UK/EEA for the past three years and whose total household income is less than £35,000. If you are aged 19+ Please visit our Adult Support Fund page.

Important eligibility criteria is available at the bottom of the page.

Travel Bursary

This is a means-tested bursary of £320 or £500 per annum depending on where you live to help with the costs of travelling to college. The payments will be made on a monthly basis across 10 months subject to attendance. The Travel Bursary is only available if you do not receive subsidised travel through your local authority; you live more than three miles from the campus and have a household income of less than £35,000.

If you are travelling to Shuttleworth, the award will be used to pay towards the cost of the Shuttleworth bus pass.

Vulnerable Learner Bursary

You could get up to £1,200 towards your course costs, meals and travel if at least one of the following applies:

  • you’re in or have recently left local authority care
  • you get Income Support or Universal Credit in your name
  • you’re disabled and get both Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in your name.
Essential Course Costs Bursary

You could get up to 75% off essential course costs such as hairdressing kits, uniforms, books or trips. Where the essential course item is provided by Bedford College, for instance, a uniform or a trip, your bursary will be transferred to your department and you will be required to pay the difference.  This is not available to students on the second year of a two-year course unless essential course costs are specified for the second year.

Meals Bursary

The meals bursary affords eligible students with a free healthy meal up to £4.25 whilst at College on the days they are timetabled to attend.

Funds are loaded on student ID cards, daily and this can be used towards the cost of purchases at tills in the college refectories.

This bursary is only available to students who qualify for the vulnerable learner bursary and those whose parents receive certain means-tested benefits. Students must attach the relevant evidence with their application.

There is also the option to top-up your ID card with additional money to buy additional items – available at Cauldwell and Shuttleworth campuses.

Funds not taken up on the day will not be carried over, students must use it on the day or lose it.

Residential Bursary (NC4M and Shuttleworth)

We offer a bursary of up to 75% towards the residential fees for students from lower income households. Priority is given to students who live the furthest away from Shuttleworth College & Silverstone. Eligible students will be given the option to pay the balance in instalments.

Childcare Support

If you’re a parent aged 16-19 the Government’s Care to Learn scheme could help you. You can find out more on the Care to Learn website.

View 16-19 Eligibility Criteria

List of Eligible Programme Types 2022/23

Your course must be either:

  • funded directly by ESFA or by ESFA via a local authority
  • funded or co-financed by the European Social Fund
    otherwise publicly funded and lead to a qualification (up to and including Level 3)
  • accredited by Ofqual or is pursuant to Section 96 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000
  • a 16 to 19 traineeship programme
  • The Prince’s Trust Team programmes: Non-employed students aged 16 to 19 who are participating in a Prince’s Trust Team Programme are eligible to receive the bursary in the same way as any other student participating in an eligible, publicly funded course.

Students must provide evidence of how they meet the three strands of eligibility for financial support to include age, residency and household income, as well as be studying on a programme that is subject to inspection by a public body such as Ofsted and the course must be funded directly by the ESFA or by the European Social Fund (ESF) – we can establish this fact from our college database.

Non-employed 16-19 students on The Prince’s Trust Team Programme are eligible to receive the bursary in the same way as a student on a publicly funded course. Students on a 16 to 19 traineeship programme are also eligible.

Eligibility for the 16-19 Bursary Fund requires that a student:

  • be aged 16 or over at Aug 2022
  • be aged 19 or over at 31 August 2022 and have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • be aged 19 or over at 31 August 2022 and continuing on a study programme they began aged 16 to 18 (‘19+ continuers’)
    meet the meet the residency criteria in ESFA funding regulations for post-16 provision before the start of the course
  • meet the low household income threshold as set by the College or have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study).

Eligibility for the Vulnerable Learner Bursary, students must provide proof of being in one of the following defined vulnerable groups:

  • in care (including a young person in foster carer arranged by the local authority)
  • care leavers
  • receiving Income Support, or Universal Credit 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 or Personal Independence Payments in their own right as well as Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit in their own right

Note: As well as the evidence of IS or UC, colleges are required to see a tenancy agreement in the student’s name, a child benefit receipt, children’s birth certificates, utility bills etc. for students who live independently. This evidence must also be provided to qualify for support where applicable to the student.

Exceptions: the following categories are not eligible for the 16-18 Bursary:

  • Students aged 19 or over at 31 August 2022 unless
  • they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), or
  • are continuing on a study programme they began aged 16 to 18
  • Students participating through partnership arrangements
  • Students on apprenticeship programmes, or any waged training
  • Students on higher education programmes
  • Students who meet the criteria for the Academic Excellence Bursary (AEB) at the Bedford Sixth Form (discretionary bursary only)

Meals Bursary

Eligible Students (see section 2.3) who live in a household in receipt of one of the benefits below are entitled to free college meals on days they attend study or activity that is part of their course (i.e. industry placement).

  • 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 guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided they 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)

In most cases this will be supplied through the College’s catering outlets. Where this arrangement is not possible, alternative arrangements will be made. The amount of support that can be provided is shown in Annex C.

In individual cases of severe hardship, the College can to provide food support whilst a student attends their study programme, for a student it considers to be in real need, without undertaking the checks on household income or gathering other evidence that would normally be required.

These discretionary meals awards are to be made for a specific number of days, and a student in receipt of the award will be required to sign a declaration to confirm receipt.

Adult Financial Support

Our Adult Support Fund and Advanced Loans Bursary is strictly for students aged 19 and over on 31 August 2022, who have lived in the UK/EEA for the past three years and whose total household income is less than £40,000. If you are in receipt of an Advanced Learner Loan, please visit the Advanced Learner Loans Bursary page. If you are aged 19+ but on the second year of a course you started last year or you have an EHCP, please visit our 16-18 Bursary page.

Important eligibility criteria is available at the bottom of the page.

Travel Bursary

This is a means-tested bursary of £450 or £750 per annum.

Depending on where you live to help with the costs of travelling to college. Awards for part time students will be made on a pro rata basis dependant on number of days and weeks in College.  All payments are paid on a monthly basis across the duration of your course.

The Travel bursary is only available if you do not receive subsidised travel through your local authority; you live more than three miles from the campus and have a household income of less than £40,000.

Tuition Examination and Professional Fees Bursary

The support will be either 75% or 50% of tuition examination and professional body fees. It’s advisable that you receive a decision from the Student Finance Team before you complete your course enrolment.

The amount of support which can be provided is shown in Annex C of the Adult Support Fund Policy.

Note: if the course you are applying for is eligible for the Advanced Learner Loan then you will be unable to apply for help towards this bursary.

Essential Course Costs Bursary

The support will either be 75% or 50% of your essential course costs such as safety equipment, books or trips. Where the essential course item is provided by Bedford College, for instance, a uniform or a trip, your bursary will be transferred to your department and you will be required to pay the difference. This is not available to students on the second year of a two year course unless essential course costs are specified for the second year.

Loan equipment

The College operates a loan laptop scheme for students who have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example lack of devices or quiet space to study).

Residential Bursary

Fees for halls of residence can be supported, although they are very limited.  Applications are prioritised by distance from the student’s home and/or availability of transport to Shuttleworth College. We operate a banding system for this bursary for students from very low income households.

Discretionary Hardship

If you are experiencing a sudden change of circumstances which places you in hardship, please speak to a member of the Student Services team.

Meals bursary

Students that eligible for the Adult Support Fund are entitled to free college meals on days they attend study, or activity that is part of their course (i.e. industry placement).

Childcare bursary

Students can also access childcare support through the bursary. The support available per day student attends college, or activity that is part of their course (e.g. industry placement). Any award will be capped at a maximum of 80% of the value of the student’s course fee .

Childcare funding may only be used towards the cost of a registered childminder, nursery or pre/after-school club. Only childcare with a provider who is registered with Ofsted may be funded. The availability of free childcare and education for all 3 and 4 year olds (and some 2 year olds) is verified with each student, and also with their nursery. If they are eligible for 2, 3 and 4 year old funding, childcare is only supported where the student’s timetable exceeds the number of government funded sessions.

Nursery deposits and childcare retainers payable during college holidays are not funded. In circumstances where a student faces exceptional hardship during the course of the academic year we may provide additional financial support for childcare as long as the total funds awarded for childcare as long as the total funds for Childcare does not exceed 80% of the value of the students course fee.

View Adult Support (including Advanced Learner Loans Bursary) Eligibility Criteria

List of Eligible Programme Types 2022/23

Students must provide evidence of how they meet the three strands of eligibility for financial support to include age, residency and household income, as well as be studying on a programme that is subject to inspection by a public body such as Ofsted and the course must be funded directly by the ESFA or by the European Social Fund(ESF).

Applications will be judged in line with AEB funding guidance for 2022/23.

Bursary Eligibility 2022/23

All full time and part time students (including those in receipt of an Advanced Learner Loan) studying on an ESFA funded course, including traineeships, at The Bedford College Group and its incorporated sites (Bedford campus, Kempston campus, Shuttleworth College, Tresham campuses and The Bedford Sixth Form) are eligible to apply for support where they meet the following criteria:

  • be aged 18 or over but under 19 at 31 August 2022 and not on a traineeship
  • are starting a traineeship on or after 1 August in the year in which they turn 16
  • have lived within the UK / EEA for 3 years prior to the start of the course
  • meet the low household income threshold as set by the College
  • are in receipt of a means-tested benefit or tax credits

In addition, the following will be considered for the Adult Support Fund, those who:

  • have learning difficulties or disabilities
  • are care leavers (previous VLB students)
  • are participating on a Prince’s Trust Team Programme
  • are on probation or supervised by the Youth Offending Service
    experience a sudden change in circumstances, such as redundancy

Eligibility for the Advanced Learner Loan bursary requires that a student:

  • be aged 19 or over at 31 August 2022 and not on a traineeship
  • are starting a traineeship on or after 1 August in the year in which they turn 16
  • have lived within the UK / EEA for 3 years prior to the start of the course
  • meet the low household income threshold as set by the College
  • are in receipt of a means-tested benefit or tax credits
  • is in receipt of an advanced learning loan

The following categories are not eligible for adult bursaries:

  • Students eligible for 16-19 bursary support, see 16-19 bursary policy for further details
  • Students who meet the criteria for the Academic Excellence Bursary (AEB) at The Bedford Sixth Form
  • Students participating through partnership arrangements
  • Students on apprenticeship programmes, or any waged training
  • Students on higher education programmes
  • International students are not eligible for any financial support

Advanced Learner Loans

Advanced Learner Loans have been introduced to help support students aged 19 or above with the cost of course fees for full Level 3 to 6 courses. Find out below about what the loan covers, who can apply and the benefits they offer.

Find out more