Money Matters: 16-18 year olds

If you’re in your final year of school and currently studying for your GCSEs, you’ll have enough on your plate without thinking about money matters. That’s why we’ve done the research for you and put together this article to give you an insight into the aspects of education that may bring with them a cost consideration, and financial support available. With only months to go before your GCSE exams, now is the best time to start thinking about what this means for you as a young adult.

Compulsory, free education

The good news is, in the UK, it’s the law for 16-18 year olds to be in full-time education or an apprenticeship, which is fully funded by the Government, and therefore free to you!

Please note: this is subject to residency criteria i.e. you have lived in the UK long enough to qualify.

So, if your education is free, what kind of money matters will you need to think about?

As it turns out, there’s actually quite a bit. Have you considered the following?

Luton Bus

Will you need to pay for travel to and from college?

Unless you live within walking or cycling distance from your college, or you have someone available to drop you off, it’s likely you’ll need to use public transport to get there. Of course you may want to learn to drive once you hit 17, but that too brings with it a whole host of costs that may need to wait until you’re earning a wage. Learning to drive and buying, running and maintaining a car sadly isn’t cheap.

Is there a list of essential kit that you’ll need to buy for your course?

Many courses will require certain items such as protective clothing, uniform or tools for you to effectively learn and complete the tasks required, particularly practical courses in industries such as Construction or the Creative Industries. Check with the college to find out if your course requires this.

Will you need to purchase your own text books?

Many courses will require text books for you to be able to study at home, and when you buy them brand-new from your nearest bookstore, the cost can be considerable. But there’s ways to help reduce this expense. For example, there’s plenty of places you can buy textbooks cheaply or second-hand. You could use a comparison engine such as to help you find the cheapest new and used textbooks. Also, this useful blog has some great ideas on how to save money on textbooks:

Are there any trips or ‘residentials’ linked to your course?

Some courses may include a field trip or even a stay away from home as part of the course which is called a ‘residential’. These are sometimes compulsory, sometimes optional, but do check with your tutor to confirm.

Text book
Tipped over piggy bank

Financial support is available

If the answer to any or all of the above questions is a yes and that causes you or your family concern, don’t worry. There is plenty of financial support available to help ensure you get the most fulfilling experience in your education:

Maintenance Allowance

Some colleges offer a Maintenance Allowance. These are ‘means tested’ (your family’s income will be assessed to decide whether you qualify) but if you are entitled to this, you do not need to pay this back.

At Barnfield College, we offer the Barnfield Maintenance Allowance (BMA) to help students with the expenses associated with attending college. 

Vulnerable Young Person Bursary

The Government’s Bursary Fund allows many colleges to offer a bursary of up to £1,200 to those that are getting:

If awarded, the bursary will be fortnightly into your bank account. In exceptional circumstances other arrangements can be made.

Pound Coin Queens Head

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

If you suffer from long-term ill health or a disability, the Government may be able to offer help with some of the extra costs associated with this. According to the Government website, “if you’re aged 16 to 64, you could get between £22 and £141.10 a week by claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP).” (

Care To Learn

If you have a child, the Government will support you with childcare costs up to £160 (£175 if you live in London). You must simply be under 20 years old at the start of your course to be eligible.

Free college meals

Additionally, if you were entitled to free school meals, you may be able to continue this upon joining college.

Additional funding

Many colleges have additional funding available at their discretion for special circumstances. They may even have a discretionary emergency fund for use in exceptional situations.

Plenty of support available

The list of financial considerations may seem like alot, but as you can see from the support available, financial concerns should never be a barrier to anyone in their education.

Girl holding fan of £20 notes
Student smiling holding ipad

How to apply for financial support

In order to apply for financial support, you’ll need to speak directly to the college or sixth form you’re applying to. They’ll be able to give you information on what you may be able to apply for. Generally, they’ll provide you with forms to fill in and a list of required evidence from your parent or guardian. Applications cannot be approved without the appropriate evidence. What this includes will be detailed by the college on a case by case basis, so it’s a good idea to ask now!

Apply early!

Remember, financial support is awarded on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, so it is best to apply as early as possible. Colleges will accept applications for financial support from May of the year you wish to start your course. So if you wish to commence your course at the beginning of the academic year in September, you need to be thinking about this from at least five months prior!

If you’re applying to Barnfield College, you can call Student Services on 01582 569 569 with any queries now, or email us at Contact us now and we’ll start doing the necessary! We look forward to assisting you soon!