Fees, funding and bursaries

Find out more about what you’ll need to pay, if you can get any funding, and how we can help you manage it all. 

Fees and payment

Find out if you have to pay fees for your course, and how to pay them, by clicking on the boxes below.

If, at the start of your course, you are aged 16–18 or aged 19-24 with an Education Health Care Plan, you are unlikely to pay any tuition fees for our funded programmes. There may be additional charges for materials, trips, and kit to enhance your learning experience. These are kept to a minimum. If you are not a UK citizen, you can use the UKCISA website to confirm if you need to pay an ‘overseas’ fee.

If you have not lived in the UK for the past 3 years, you can use the UKISA website to confirm if you need to pay a ‘home’ or ‘overseas’ fee.

‘Overseas’ fees will be payable if you live within one of the following devolved regions:

  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • Greater Manchester
  • Liverpool City and Region
  • Tees Valley
  • West of England
  • West Midlands
  • North of Tyne
  • Sheffield City Region
  • West Yorkshire

Students aged 19+ enrolling on a course at level 2 or below

You might not have to pay fees on a funded course if you are:  

  • aged 19+, unemployed (or working less than 16 hours per week), receiving benefits in your own name, seeking employment and enrolling on a programme that is eligible
  • aged 19+ and working towards—but have not already achieved—a GCSE in English and maths at Grade 9-4 (A*–C)  
  • aged 19+, employed and earning less than £17,374.50 per annum, and your programme is eligible  
  • aged between 19-23 when you start your programme, this is your first full Level 2 qualification and you are enrolling to a full-time vocational course at level 1 that will help you progress to a level 2 programme. Contact us to find out if you're eligible before enrolling.
  • aged between 19-23 when you start your programme, this is your first full Level 2 qualification and your programme is eligible. Contact us to find out if you're eligible before enrolling. 

If you are not a UK citizen and required to pay fees, you can use the UKCISA website to confirm whether you will need to pay a 'home' or 'overseas' fee.  

Students aged 19+ enrolled on a level 3 course – Fees and funding. 

If you are aged between 19-23 when you start your programme, this is your first full Level 3 qualification and your programme is eligible you may not have to pay fees. Contact us to find out if you're eligible before enrolling.  

Community learning courses

A limited number of free community learning places will be made available on some courses where indicated and to be eligible, you will need to be:  

  • aged 19+ unemployed and receiving benefits  
  • aged 19+ employed and earning less than £17,374.50 per annum  

 Advanced Learner Loan  

If you are studying on a full-time Level 3 or 4 programme (not as part of an apprenticeship), you are eligible to apply for a loan to help you pay your tuition fees. These loans are not means-tested or subject to credit checks, and you start repaying the loan when you earn over £25,725 per year.   

Loans for Access to Higher education programmes are cleared if you go on to complete a higher education programme with the support of a higher education student loan.  

For more information regarding eligibility criteria, please visit www.gov.uk/advanced-learning-loans 

Please note that the following area is only for those with an offer for a course at our colleges. For access online, a link will be sent with your joining instructions.  

Download your learning and funding information letter

See our HE page for financial support information

Most international students will have to pay fees for their course. Please visit our international website for the most up-to-date information on fees. 

Payment may be made in person, over the phone or electronically to the Advice and Admissions department. You can call 0800 612 6008 for details on how to do so.

The preferred methods of payment are:

  • most major credit and debit cards, excluding American Express
  • bank transfer (please use your student ID as the reference)
  • for courses with an 'enrol now' button, you can pay online

In certain circumstances, other payment methods may be used, including:

  • cheques

How we can help you manage the cost of college

A wide range of bursaries are available, subject to you meeting certain criteria, helping you with the cost of studying with us. 

What is a bursary? 

A bursary provides financial support to help students overcome the specific financial barriers to be able to participate in your course. It can be used to pay for uniforms/clothing, books and other equipment for your course. The bursary can also be provided to help meet the costs of travel getting to and from your place of study and for paying for food. Bursaries don't have to be paid back and you get your bursary directly from us. Activate Learning offers several bursaries to ensure financial support reaches those students who are most in need.   

Eligibility and evidence required  

You must be a ‘home’ student and enrolled on a funded further education course. If you are not a UK citizen, you can check if you are a home student by using the UKCISA website 

To be eligible for our bursary’s you need to meet the below household income thresholds. To assess your financial need we use household income along with individual circumstances such as the number of dependent children in the household. 

  • Financial support for 16-18 students, 19+ LLDD students with EHCPs, and 2nd year students aged 19+
    - have a household income of £25,000 or less
  • Financial support for students aged 19+
    - have a household income of £30,000 or less

Evidence of student's household income is required for all bursaries, except for students who are Looked After or In Care who will need to provide local authority confirmation of their status. 

Please see pdf for detailed list of all evidence required for each bursary including information regarding how we assess household income.

Applicants are required to apply for all statutory benefits before applying for a bursary. For further information on government benefits you are eligible for, please visit: www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators 

What bursaries are available? 

A bursary fund to support students with travel costs to and from college.

Travel Bursary Terms and Conditions 2021:2022 

To be eligible, students must live three miles or more from the nearest Activate Learning campus offering the course you are joining.  

If you apply by Friday 6 August 2021, students will have their pass available at the start of term. During our peak application period during August and September it can take up to four weeks to process your application and confirm if you have been awarded a bursary, so you will be responsible for any travel costs until your financial support is in place.  

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. 

If we do not have a purchasing agreement with your travel company, you will be awarded travel expenses. 

Travel Passes 

The cost of your travel will not be backdated; you are responsible for the cost of travel until your pass arrives.   

We will purchase a travel pass on your behalf for the journey you detailed on your financial support application form or the most cost-effective method of travel. 

We purchase travel passes from the following travel companies: 

If you have been awarded a Stagecoach or rail pass you will have to insert a photograph in the pass for the pass to be valid for travel. 

Passes are available for collection usually within three weeks of the date of this letter: you will be sent a text message as soon as your pass is ready for collection.  

  • Passes may be collected from the Advice Centre of your college. If your course is not based at an Activate Learning campus, your travel pass will be posted to your home address
  • Where possible we will purchase an annual academic year pass, if this is not available, we will buy a pass each term for your travel 
  • We recommend you take a photocopy of your travel pass; this is so that you will have the pass number if you lose the pass and need a replacement
  • If the pass requires photo ID it is your responsibility to provide the photograph, these passes are not valid for travel unless presented with the photo ID card
  • We recommend you store the pass in a plastic wallet to avoid damaging the magnetic strip on the back
  • Funds will not be back dated, and you are responsible for the cost of travel until your pass arrives 
  • Any passes not collected within two weeks will be returned to the travel company and there may be a fee for reissuing the pass

Travel Expenses 

You may be awarded travel expenses if:  

  • it is the most cost-effective method of support 
  • public transport is not available for your journey  
  • you have evidenced the need to travel by car due to your childcare arrangements, expenses for fuel are awarded at 15p per mile for the return journey and paid by direct transfer in arrears. 
  • we do not have a purchasing agreement with the travel company  
  • if you need support towards your contribution for Special Education Needs (SEN) travel provide by the Council  

If you would like the bursary to contribute towards the cost of SEN transport provided by the County Council, you should let us know the estimated amount you will be required to pay the Council when you apply for the bursary. 

SEN transport invoices need to be provided by the end 27 November 2021. 

We are not able to support the cost of taxis to college unless the taxi is provided by the Local Council.  

Schedule when payments for travel expenses due in bank accounts. 

A bursary to support students with the cost of items needed for their study programme.  

Students aged 16–18

Any equipment and materials that are essential for a course may be borrowed from college, therefore the course costs bursary cannot support these costs. 

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

The fund supports:

  • books, equipment, or specialist clothing that are essential for the course 
  • field trips that support the learning aim  
  • UCAS fees 
  • costs associated with attending university open events/interviews
  • work/ industry placement costs such as additional travel, meal credits if eligible and protective equipment.

Please note bursary funds do not support laptops or other IT equipment.

Students aged 19+

  • The bursary can support costs for your course as detailed for students aged 16-18
  • 19+ course fees (except for students who are eligible for an Advanced Learning Loan)
  • We can support with your course fee if you are not eligible to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan e.g. if you are enrolling on a level 2 or ESOL course.
  • 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 fee.
  • If you are eligible to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan and choose to pay your own course costs or your Advanced Learner Loan is not approved, you are not eligible for bursary support.

How do I inform you of the costs I would like support with?

Please complete a course costs bursary form.

You may submit additional course costs forms throughout the year if you have more course costs e.g., trips, university open days, without the need to complete a full bursary application each time.

Completing the form for different costs:

  • Items for your course: we ask that you buy the items you need for your course then attach the receipts to the course costs form.
  • You may not need to provide receipts if your faculty are able to purchase the items for you.
  • Fees that are payable to college e.g. a trip or course fee: complete the form, we do not need receipts. 
  • If you already have confirmation that you have been awarded a bursary for 2021-22 you need pay only 50% of the fee to college.

On occasion, the faculty may be able to buy the essential items you need directly. If this is agreed, we will let you know that you don't need to buy the items and the bursary funds will be paid to your faculty instead.

Please note students who are enrolled on ESOL courses who need support with fees or travel for additional courses throughout the year should submit a course costs form each term.

Course costs bursary forms are available from the Advice Centre at your local campus.

How do I submit my course costs form and receipts?

Submit completed forms by hand to an Adviser at the Advice Centre or email it to studentfinance@activatelearning.ac.uk  

How do you provide the support?

Funds 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.
  • if you have purchased an item from a supplier, we will refund you by making a direct transfer payment into your bank account.


If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will receive a free breakfast or lunch for the days you are in college or when studying off-site e.g., on work experience/ placement. 

Am I eligible for Meal Credits?

 To be eligible you must be aged 16-18 on 31 August 2021; or continuing a study programme you began aged 16-18; or have an EHCP plan and you need to supply 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 guarantee 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 

N.B. 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 

How are Meal Credits provided?

Students based at a campus take up their meal credits through college outlets. Payment is made for your meal by presenting your ID card at the checkout. 

How to enable your college ID card – so it will work at the till

  • Present your card at the card reader of any college printer and log in to the printer using your network ID and password. 
  • To check your card has been enabled, tap your ID card on the printer card reader if the printer logs you in automatically, your card will now work at the till. 
  • If you have any queries about how to register your card or experience any difficulties, please come and see an adviser in the Advice Centre.

If your course is not based at a campus with a refectory, you will receive a fortnightly term time Direct transfer payment (£3.50 a day) into your bank account to buy a meal. 

Schedule when payments for meal credit  expenses due in bank accounts.

If you are eligible for Meal Credits and attend a placement you will need to provide details of your placement on a course costs form. 


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

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. 

Bursary fund payments are not made as regular payments for living costs. 

What are the defined vulnerable groups?

The defined vulnerable groups are:
  • in the care of the Local Authority
  • a care leaver
  • receive 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. Please note students must be entitled to the benefits in your own right.
  • receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments in your own right, as well as Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit in your own right

Do I need to provide any evidence to prove my entitlement to a vulnerable bursary?

Yes, the evidence required:

  • Students in care or a care leaver: written confirmation of your current or previous looked-after status from the relevant local authority
  • Students in receipt of Income Support or Universal Credit (UC): a copy of their Income Support or UC award notice. This must clearly state that the claim is in the student's name and confirm they are entitled to the benefits in your own right. The evidence must not state any conditions that prevent them from participating in further education or training. A tenancy agreement or utility bill in their own name and if relevant a child benefit receipt /children’s birth certificate is also required
  • Students receiving UC/ESA and Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments: a copy of their UC claim from DWP. Evidence of receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment must also be provided. Both benefits must be in the students' own name

How do you assess my financial need?

  • Students will be assessed by the Student Support team to determine whether they have a financial need for a vulnerable bursary and if so, how much vulnerable bursary they need to participate in your course
  • Students who do not have an actual financial need because their costs have been met or because they have no relevant costs may not be awarded a vulnerable bursary

How is the support provided?

  • Support is awarded in kind where possible; this may include travel passes, meal credits, essential books, equipment, specialist clothing, 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 study programme lasts for less than 30 weeks or if you are on a part-time programme you will be awarded a pro-rata amount
  • Payments are paid pro-rata from the date the fully completed bursary application was received


  • Students who are awarded a bursary for vulnerable groups will not automatically receive weekly payments
  • Students assessed as needing a payment or a series of payments to enable them to participate in education will receive payments by Direct transfer into their own bank account
  • Payments may be made weekly or ad hoc and may be reduced or not authorized if they have not met the attendance and behaviour criteria. Consideration of any extenuating circumstances is considered before withholding a payment
  • Students who are absent for a period of four continuous weeks or more (excluding college holidays) payments will be stopped unless there is evidence that they intend to return

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. 

Am I eligible for an accommodation bursary?

To be eligible you must:

  • Have a net household incomeofless than £32,000
  • Be planning to study a furniture programme or WASPS Rugby programme at City of Oxford College or a land-based programme at Merrist WoodCollege
  • Be aged under 19 years old at the start of your full-time study programme and live further than 15 miles from the college. N.B. The bursary does not support a student to participate in general FE 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?

  •  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
  • Students may be awarded travel support of up to £400 from their term time accommodation to their campus.

Support with accommodation for the academic year as follows:

  • Band 1: up to £25,000
    Up to £3,458 for five days / week residence.
    Up to £4,100 for seven days/ week residence for students aged 18+
  • Band 2: £25,001 -£32,000
    Up to £1,152for five days / week residence

Please note, where students leave part way through the year, or are excluded from their accommodation, their accommodation bursary payments will stop on the date they left their course or were excluded.

I am a parent under 20 years old, can I get help with the cost of Childcare? 

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 5 days
  • keeping your childcare place over the summer holidays
  • taking your child to their childcare provider

 You can get up to £160 per child per week if you live outside London 

 How do I apply for Care to Learn? 

Apply 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 studentfinance@activatelearning.ac.uk 


I am a student aged 19+, can I apply for the Childcare Bursary?

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 do I apply for the Childcare bursary? 

  • Complete the 19+ Bursary Form 2021-22 confirming you would like to apply for the Childcare bursary. 
  • Complete a Childcare Provider form 
  • Provide copies of your child/rens birth certificate 
  • Provide a copy of your Child Benefit letter 

How is the support provided? 

  • The amount of funding is discretionary but will normally be for a maximum of £180 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. 

N.B. Both students and the childcare provider must return a signed copy of our full Childcare Bursary Terms and Conditions documents before invoices will be paid. 

How to apply for financial support

An introduction 

All student finance applications are confidential, so you shouldn’t worry about applying.   

Funds are limited so please apply early to avoid any disappointment, and applications will be processed on a first come, first-served basis. 

The application form will only be processed if it has been completed and submitted with the required evidence so don’t forget to include this with your application.  

We strongly recommend that you submit your application before Monday 23 August 2021, as applications received after this date may not be processed within our standard timescales of 4 weeks. Bursary payments will not be backdated for applications made after the start of your course. 

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. 

  • Find out how you plan to travel to college, check the travel company’s timetables, If you have the option to travel by bus or train you may want to choose the transport with the shortest journey time. If you are not applying for financial support, consider if a 16/17 Rail Saver or other rail card will reduce the cost of the journey. 
  • Check your Local Authorities post 16 transport policy to find out if they provide support towards you travel costs 
  • Course costs – check if there are any items you need for your course.  
  • If you need childcare to attend your course, research the childcare provider you would like to use and gather an estimated cost. 
  • Find the documents evidencing the household income that you are going to submit with your financial Support Application. 
  • Complete a financial support application  
  • All forms must be signed by the student. 
  • If you complete the form electronically you will need to print and sign the form 
  • Submit your application along with the required evidence. Details of how to submit the form are on the application. 
  • We will send you an email to confirm that we have received your application within seven working days. 
  • If we do not have all the information, we need we will send you an email to explain what else is needed.  
  • We will send you an email within four weeks of receipt of your application the bursaries you have been awarded. 
  • 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. 
  • Travel Bursary - travel passes are available for collection within three weeks of you receiving confirmation of your travel bursary. We will send you a text message to let you know when it has arrived 
  • Meal Credits – you may purchase a meal from our college outlets using your ID card as soon as you receive confirmation you have been awarded meal credits. Remember to activate your student ID card at a printer before going to the refectory. 
  • Course costs – Complete a course costs form and attach receipts for any essential items you have bought.
    Sometimes faculty may be able to buy the essential items you need; when your financial support application has been approved, you will receive an email confirming your bursary award you should speak with the faculty coordinator and show them the award email. The bursary funds would be paid to the faculty to cover the costs. Course fees – If you have been awarded a course costs bursary towards fees payable to college you need only pay 50% of the cost, the bursary fund will clear the remaining 50% 
  • Childcare bursary - We will support the cost of your childcare from the date you receive confirmation of your childcare bursary. 
  • Payments are made by Direct transfer into students own bank accounts except in exceptional circumstances where a student is unable to administer their own account. 
  • Payments will be made to the bank account that was detailed on the financial support application form.  
  • Please ensure your bank details are legible and that the bank account accepts Direct transfers. 
  • If incorrect bank details are provided this may result in you not receiving a payment. 

A basic bank account (which students can open at age 16) allows Direct transfers and allows the student to withdraw money. More information on basic bank accounts can be found here  https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/basic-bank-accounts/ 

  • Let us know if there are any changes to your details that affect your bursary, for example your timetable changes, you are going on a work placement or you need  additional support for example to attend University Open days,  pay a UCAS fee or to go on a field trip. 
  • Let us know if you change the bank account we are to make payments to 
  • If you are planning on changing your childcare provider let us know before hand  so that we can ensure we pay invoices to the new childcare provider. 

Notifying us of a change of details

  • You may let us know of any change of circumstances by emailing studentfinance@activatelearning.ac.uk 
  • If you would like to change your address or bank details, complete a change of details form which is available from the Advice Centre or from this link Change of Details form  
  • The form may be handed in at the Advice Centre


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 7 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.