Student parents

Help to understand the terms used

Further education - college or sixth form college
Further education is used to describe level 1, 2 and 3 courses, eg GCSEs, A levels, access courses, NVQs or BTECs. They can also include basic skills courses, eg literacy or numeracy.

Higher education - university or college
Higher education courses lead to degree level qualifications, eg BA or BSc or postgraduate qualifications, eg MA, MBA, PhD. They also include HNDs, HNCs and DipHEs.

Student finance forms and guides are available from Student Finance England.

Financial help for parents in further education

Care to Learn

The Care to Learn scheme enables parents aged under 20 to continue with, or return to, learning after the birth of a child by assisting with the costs of registered childcare and associated travel. Eligible teenage parents can receive up to £160 per child per week, which is paid directly to the registered childcare provider. Claiming Care to Learn funding will not affect your own or your family's benefits or allowances. You can claim Care to Learn either as the child's father or mother, as long as the other parent is unable to provide childcare because, for example, they are working.

You can find out more by visiting the Care to Learn website or by contacting the Learner Support Helpline on 0800 121 8989. If you would like advice about courses or help with your application please contact your local Connexions service.

Discretionary Support Fund

If you don't qualify for the schemes offering help with childcare costs, you may still be able to get financial support through your college's Discretionary Support Fund. This funding is prioritised for those facing financial hardship and your college will determine the amount of funding available. Please contact your college Student Support team for further information.

Financial help for parents in higher education

Please download a copy of the 'Childcare Grant and other support for full-time student parents in higher education' booklet at the bottom of the page.

Childcare Grant

The Childcare Grant offers help with childcare costs to parents who are studying on a full-time higher education course. This is in addition to the standard student finance package. The Childcare Grant could cover as much as 85 per cent of your childcare costs during term time and holidays - up to a maximum of £148.75 per week if you have one child, or £255 per week if you have two or more children. If you, or your partner, get the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit, you won't be able to get the Childcare Grant as well.

Access to Learning Fund

If you're in financial difficulty you may be entitled to help through the Access to Learning Fund. The Access to Learning Fund can provide support for students on lower incomes who run into financial difficulty. Universities and colleges decide how money from the fund is paid out locally, but students with children - and especially lone parents - are a priority for the fund. You can apply if you're a full-time or part-time higher education student, whether you're doing an undergraduate or postgraduate course. You'll be expected to have applied for any student loans, grants and bursaries you're entitled to before applying for help from the Access to Learning Fund. You can apply through the student services department at your university or college.

NHS Childcare Allowance

The NHS Childcare Allowance is paid to parents studying a health professional course to help with childcare costs. The allowance can pay up to 85 per cent of childcare costs and the maximum grant award is £126.65 per week for one child or £187.85 per week for two or more children (2009 to 2010). Payment is usually made is monthly instalments across the year. Parents who receive the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit cannot receive the NHS Childcare Allowance. Call the NHS Student Grant helpline on 0845 358 6655, Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.00pm.

Professional and career development loans

If you are aged 18 or over a professional and career development loan could help you pay for learning that enhances your job skills or career prospects. It's a bank loan, so you'll have to pay it back once you've left your course. However, you don't pay interest for the period when you're in learning. The loans can be used to support any full-time, part-time or distance learning courses for up to two years, as long as the course leads to a trade, occupation or profession. You can borrow between £300 and £10,000 and it can be used for any costs related to studying and training, including childcare costs.

For impartial information and advice on money matters, please visit the Money Advice Service website.

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