Bursaries & Free Meals Policy

Our bursaries & free college meals policy tells you who is eligible for money to support them with their education or for subsidised lunches.


Bursaries are designed to help eligible students aged 16-24 who have an EHCP and / or from low-income households to meet the costs incurred in attending and participating in college.

Homefield College administers the Bursary Fund awarded within the Education Skills Funding Agency’s (EFA) 16-19 Bursary Fund Guidelines. For more information you can visit: www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund

The bursaries available include a bursary of up to £1,200 a year made available to the most vulnerable young people and also a discretionary fund for schools, academies and colleges to distribute. Each institution can set its own eligibility criteria for the discretionary bursaries and the terms and conditions under which it is awarded.

Homefield has clear and transparent processes including an appeals procedure.

Two types of bursary are available to young people aged 16-24:

Vulnerable Young People Bursary

A bursary of up to £1,200, is available to students who are aged under 19 on the 31st August 2023 and who also fit one of the criteria below:

  • In Local Authority care or have left care.

  • In receipt of Income Support in their own name.

  • In receipt of Universal Credit in their own name.

  • Receive both Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (or Universal Credit in place of ESA), and either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in their own name.

Evidence to support the application will be needed such as:

  • A letter setting out the benefit to which the young person is entitled.

  • Written confirmation (letter or email) of current/previous ‘Looked After’ status from the relevant Local Authority.

  • Leaving Care Review Document.

Discretionary Bursary

This bursary is awarded to meet individual needs / circumstances and covers the costs associated with attending and participating in College life at Homefield.

To qualify for this bursary, students must be from a household with an income of less than £33,000 or in receipt of a means tested benefit. However, all applications from outside of these guidelines will be considered to allow some flexibility on individual circumstances.

Criteria and evidence required:

Applicants must be under 25 on 31st August 2023 and should be from a household with an income below £33,000.

Evidence of meeting the criteria must accompany the application such as:

  • P60 from the latest tax year (or the most recent three payslips)

  • Tax return from latest tax year (if any member of the household is self-employed) or an accountant’s letter confirming annual income.

  • Award letter for any other benefits e.g. tax credits

The College will award funds broadly under the following categories relating to essential costs to enable student’s participation in their Pathway:

  • Clothing (PPE or uniforms), books and course equipment

  • DBS costs

  • Essential trips/visits

  • Work Experience or Work placement related costs

  • Transport (not replacing the local authority statutory transport duty)

Free Meals in Further Education

Students qualifying for a bursary may also be eligible for subsidised meals for the days they attend college. Subsidised meals will be awarded at £4.00 (The Government provides a daily meal allowance of £2.41) per meal and in most circumstances will relate to lunch provision.

These are targeted at disadvantaged students. “Disadvantaged” is defined as students in receipt of, or having parents who are in receipt of, one or more 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 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) to be aligned and amended in accordance with Government guidance.

*Transitional protection arrangements:

Eligibility checks will not be required for any student already receiving free meals at any point between 1 April 2018 and March 2025 or until the end of the Pathway they are enrolled on at this point (until June 2025). This will apply even if the household earnings rise above the new threshold during that time.

Applications, Assessment & Outcome

All applicants will need to complete an application form for each academic year they study at Homefield College to evidence that they meet the eligibility criteria – the only exception are students continuing to receive free meals who were in receipt between 2018-2023*. There is no deadline for when an application can be made; however, allocations of funds are subject to availability.

  • In line with the ESFA guidelines, the College will retain 5% of its allocation for administration purposes. It will also retain funds for ‘in year’ applications.

  • In all cases, an application form will be completed and the necessary evidence provided.

  • The application will take no longer than 8-10 working days (during term time) to process (upon receipt of the required evidence). Outside of term time, processing time may be longer.

  • An assessment is made based on a completed and signed declaration from the student and parent / carer (dependent upon age and circumstance of student) detailing income from employment and/or benefits along with supporting evidence of all declared income.

  • All income and benefits (including housing benefit, council tax benefit, working tax credits and child maintenance, child tax credits, etc.) are taken into account. The College does not take into account Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment when calculating total household income.

  • The number of dependent children will be taken into consideration. The College will take account of this information in the assessment of need, as the College recognises the additional household costs incurred.

  • Where a student is identified as eligible for a defined vulnerable group bursary, but their financial needs are met, or they do not have any financial need, this may result in no award, or only a partial award being made. This will be made clear to the student and can be revisited at any time during the academic year.

  • If the application is unsuccessful, or only successful in part, the applicant / family will be made aware of the outcome in writing within 15 working days (term time). Outside of term time, processing time may be longer.

  • Receipt of the bursary will be conditional on the young person regularly attending college.

Payment Of Funds

Where possible, funds will be used to directly procure the agreed service or item(s) on behalf of the student. For awards such as clothing and equipment, payments will be made by BACS to the student. In very exceptional circumstances where the student is unable to administer their own bank account, the College will agree an alternative payment method.

Where the vulnerable bursary is awarded in full or pro-rata, this will usually be paid in equal amounts over a consecutive 10-month period, starting in September.


If you require support and guidance to complete your application then please contact the Admissions & Transitions Manager via email at contactus@homefieldcollege.ac.uk or by phone 01509 815 696.


Homefield College’s Complaints Procedure is in place to cover queries / disagreements over applications for both the Vulnerable and Discretionary Bursary funds.

Appeals process

All applicants have the right to appeal the decision and must submit a letter to the Admissions & Transitions Manager within two weeks of receiving their decision letter.

The Appeals Panel will be made up of three staff members including one member of the Senior Management Team (SMT), none of whom have previous involvement in the decision regarding the award.

All decisions regarding the appeals will be communicated within a working week of the Appeals Panel meeting and this decision is final. However, this should not stop a student from submitting a further application should they feel they have sufficient change of circumstances during the year.

Links with Other Documents

  • Bursaries & Subsidised Meals Application Form 2023-2024

  • Bursary Information for Students 2023-2024

  • Information for Staff – Bursary and Subsidised Meals Eligibility 2023-2024

Published: June 2023
Staff Responsible: Admissions & Transitions Manager
Approved by: Senior Management Team