Finance and education
This section only looks at finance. You can find more general information on going to college or university here.
Most full time courses at Scottish colleges are free if someone has lived in the UK for the last 3 years and is resident in Scotland.
If someone has attended college before they may have to pay, but it depends on their circumstances and what they are studying. Speak to the college funding department directly or call Lead Scotland’s Disabled Students’ helpline on 0800 999 2568 for advice.
For HNC or HND courses you need to apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for tuition fee funding.
Many part time courses are free if:
- The student or their family receive certain benefits, including universal credit, personal independence payment (PIP) and carer’s allowance.
- Their family income is below a set threshold, which varies depending on individual circumstances.
- They are seeking asylum, or are the spouse or child of someone seeking asylum.
- They’ve lived in local authority care.
Speak to a specialist adviser to check what you’re entitled to.
Students aged 16 – 18 (and some 19 year olds) taking a course at National Level 6 or below may be able to apply to their local authority (council) for the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). This is means tested on parents’ income and doesn’t affect other benefits.
Students aged over 18 and taking a full time course at National Level 6 or below may be able to apply to their college for a Bursary Maintenance Allowance. Each college has its own funding guide, so check their website or ask their finance department for details. Bursaries can affect other benefits, so speak to an adviser to check if it’s a good option for you.
Part time students aren’t usually entitled to maintenance bursaries as they are expected to support themselves through working or by claiming social security benefits.
Students can receive extra funding to help with the costs of childcare, travel, study equipment or particular financial barriers. Check the individual college’s funding guide.
Disabled students should never be asked to cover the cost of additional support to be able to study, as long as this is a reasonable adjustment. Colleges can get money from The Scottish Funding Council for things like assistive technology, adapted equipment or communication support workers.
Colleges aren’t responsible for personal support needs not related to learning, for example personal care, finding the way around campus or behaviour management. This type of support should be part of someone’s wider support package.
Students living away from home may get extra funding from the college towards accommodation and claim universal credit to contribute towards rent costs – though in practice it can take a long time to receive universal credit payments. Speak to a benefits adviser to find out if this is a good option for you.
Anyone who needs personal assistance and adapted accommodation or specialist equipment when living away from home should contact social services where they currently live, to have their needs assessed. Agreeing who is responsible for out-of-area support can take time to resolve.
Most full time courses at Scottish universities are free for people who meet the residency conditions set by the Scottish Government.
Tuition fees elsewhere in the UK are much higher and students will need to apply for a loan. The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) manages student funding.
If someone has had funding in the past they may have to pay tuition fees for further study. Speak to the university funding department, read the SAAS guide on repeat study or speak to an adviser for more information.
Full time students can apply to SAAS for a loan or bursary to help with living costs, depending on their circumstances. Loans have to be repaid. Generally young people leaving school can apply for the maximum.
Loans and bursaries may affect benefits and the rules are complex, so get advice before applying.
Other funding sources include:
- Care experienced bursaries. Students who have lived in care can apply for a bursary, which they don’t have to repay, instead of a loan. Some people in kinship care arrangements may also qualify.
- Grants. SAAS provides grants in certain circumstances. Find out more about the living cost grants available.
Students in part time higher education courses can apply for a grant to cover tuition fees if their income is below £25,000 per year, but they aren’t entitled to help with living costs as they are expected to support themselves through work or social security benefits.
Disabled Students’ Allowance
Disabled students taking courses at National Level 7 or above can apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to cover educational support costs. This could cover things like assistive technology, adapted equipment or communication support workers. It isn’t means tested, doesn’t affect benefits, and is available for full time and part time study.
Disabled students should never be asked to cover the cost of additional support to be able to study, as long as it’s a reasonable adjustment.
Lead Scotland’s guide to the Equality Act outlines the responsibilities education providers have towards disabled students, and how to decide whether an adjustment is “reasonable”. Read the SAAS guide to DSA and Lead Scotland’s factsheet on how to apply for DSA.
Living away from home
Students living away from home may get extra funding towards accommodation costs and be able to claim universal credit to contribute towards their rent. Take advice to find out if this is the best option, as it can take a long time for universal credit payments to begin.
Anyone who needs personal assistance and adapted accommodation or specialist equipment when living away from home should contact social services where they currently live, to have an assessment of their needs carried out.
Managing direct payments
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Note: these links take you away from this site
- Self Directed Support Scotland
- Independent Living Fund Scotland (ILF)
- Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
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