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In care/Care leavers

Money for higher level study

The cost of going on to university may seem scary but it is important to remember that the student-finance systems are there to help. You do not need to find any money upfront! Depending on your situation you are likely to get money from a range of sources to help with the costs of university - Student Finance, local authorities, university, accommodation companies and other organisations.

Financial support available from Student Finance

You can apply for a tuition-fee loan to cover your fees. You can also apply for a loan to cover your living costs.

The tuition fees will be decided by the institution offering the course - look at an institution's website to see what they plan to charge. Click here to see institutions in the South of England.

When applying to university, many students are worried about managing their money – and for students from a care background, this may seem like a particular challenge.

You should apply for student finance to cover your tuition fees and maintenance as an independent student – this means your household income isn’t be taken into account to calculate what you can receive. Your loan repayments will be automatically deducted from your earnings in the same way as income tax.

The funding available is for higher-education courses, so you should still get the same financial support if you study a higher-education course at a university or a college. However, sometimes studying full-time or part-time can make a difference to the amount of funding you can get.

More about the funding available for studying.

Money from local authorities for care leavers

As a care leaver you may be entitled to financial support from your local authority. The amount of support you can receive will depend on the length of time you were in care, the education you have undertaken before and which local authority provided your care. You should get in touch with your local authority and ask them for a copy of their written policy for financial support for care leavers and ask them how they can support you.

It’s really important that your Pathway Plan includes your aspiration to go to university. Pathway Plans are agreements between you and the local authority, and they outline the support you will receive. If it’s not written in your plan it can be difficult to get the authority to provide it. Don’t panic if your plan doesn’t mention university – talk to your personal adviser to request its inclusion along with whatever relevant support they are able to give you.

If you are a care leaver from England or Wales starting higher-education study for the first time before your 25th birthday, then you are entitled to a one-off bursary of a minimum of £2,000 from your local authority. This may be paid in a lump sum or in installments. The timings of bursary payments are agreed between the care leaver and the local authority. You will need to apply to your local authority for this bursary. It does not have to be repaid!

Your local authority should also be supporting you financially to pursue education, if your welfare and educational needs require it. Your local authority should have a financial policy that sets out the financial and practical support that they will give to care leavers who are participating in further or higher education. Ask to see it, so that it’s clear what support that they will give and ask for it to be clearly written into your pathway plan.

Money from university for care leavers

Visit the website Propel - here you'll find information about moving into higher education from care, alongside specific details about the financial support individual unis and colleges across the UK offer. Each uni or college has its own page, containing an overview of its courses and the specific support it can give care leavers. Some accommodation providers such as Unite also offer free accommodation scholarships you can apply for if you are a care leaver or estranged from your family.

More information

For more information on university costs and student-loan details, check out the following links:

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