Financial support for College students

Online applications for the 2022/23 academic year are now open, click here to apply.

This page contains information on the different financial support available to college students at University College Birmingham. Find out what you might be eligible for, and the ways our dedicated support team can help you, throughout your studies.

What support is available?

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Course Fees

College courses are free for students up to the age of 18, providing you meet the necessary residency criteria, and your course is eligible for Government funding. If you are over 18, you may still be able to get help with your course fees.

For a full list of who does or does not need to pay for their course fees – visit our College Fees and Funding page.

Can I pay my tuition fees in instalments?

If you do have to pay course fees, you can either pay in full at enrolment, or payment can be made in 4 equal instalments:

Level 1 & 2 courses - the first instalment must be paid when you enrol, then 3 further instalments in November, February and April.

Level 3 courses – instalments are due by the end of October, January, March and May


Can I apply for a student loan to cover the cost of my tuition fees?

If you are aged 19 and over on the first day of your course and want to study a full Level 3 qualification, but are not entitled to fee remission, you may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan.

This is a non-means tested loan and is available from the UK Government to pay the tuition fees of full level 3 qualifications (course exclusions apply) starting after 1st August 2016. The loan is paid directly to UCB to cover the cost of your tuition, and does not have to be repaid until you are earning over £25,000 a year.

For more information, please visit the Advanced Learner Loans section of the Gov.UK site.

What do I need to do if my employer is going to pay my tuition fees?

If your fees are being paid by your employer - please bring a letter, on headed paper, from your employer; confirming this and clearly stating who the invoice should be raised to.

Where can I go for advice about Further Education tuition fees?

If you have any questions about the information on this page, please contact our Finance Department on 0121 232 4013 or walk in and speak to a member of our office on the First Floor of The Link building.

Uniform and Equipment

First-year college students who come from a household with a total income of less than £31,000 per year, can apply for essential uniform and equipment costs for the following courses: Catering / Professional Cookery, Hospitality and Bakery, Hairdressing, Beauty and Theatrical and Media Makeup. This is through what is known as the Learner Support Fund (LSF).

  • A non-refundable contribution of £50 is required before the order can be processed; and we then cover the rest of the cost of your uniform and equipment. This can be a saving of up to £250 depending on your course.

Students can apply for uniform and equipment support over on our Financial Support System.

What if you are awarded with support for these costs after purchasing uniform or equipment yourself?

If you purchase your uniform and equipment yourself and are later awarded support with these costs, it may be possible for University College Birmingham to refund these costs minus the £50 contribution. You would need to make sure you have saved all your receipt.

(Any refunds will be considered after the application deadline which is Friday 9th December 2022).

Discretionary Bursary Scheme (DBS)

The DBS comprises of a weekly payment, given to students from low-income backgrounds (less than £25,000 per year), to assist with your travel costs. To qualify, you must reside in the UK and have 80 to 100% attendance (unless absences are otherwise authorised).

A bursary of £20 per week will be paid directly into your bank account, following each week of 100% attendance. Please note that if you do not receive your weekly bursary due to unauthorised absence, there is no alternative payment.

You can apply for the DBS on our Financial Support System.

Free lunch meals

University College Birmingham are also able to provide free lunch-time meals to all 16- to 18-year-old full time college students, who are coming from a house with a combined income of less than £31,000 (see further eligibility criteria below).

Please note that you may be required to apply for the DBS and free lunch meals, as a combined application. More information on the DBS can be found above.

  • Our lunch scheme is discreet. All students need is their ID card to claim their free meal.
  • An allowance of £2.41 per day will be added to your card and can be used on healthy food options. It cannot be used on items such as fizzy drinks, crips, chocolates etc.

You can apply for free lunch meals, on our Financial Support System.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for free meals, the Government states students must be aged 16 to 18, a UK resident; and in receipt of, or have 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)
  • The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • 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.
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after someone stops qualifying for Working Tax Credit*
  • UC with net earnings not exceeding the equivalent of £7,400 for each year (after tax and not including any benefits they get)

You will need to provide evidence of your household’s award of the above qualifying benefits.

* Please note that although qualifying benefits do include the Working Tax Credit run-on which is paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit; Working Tax Credit itself is not a qualifying benefit for free meals, and a parent or student in receipt of Working Tax Credits is not entitled to a free meal (this is a common question that is asked).

Free food / drink for all students this Autumn

As part of the support that University College Birmingham is putting in place to help students who are facing increased costs this autumn (2022), we have introduced some additional food offers for all students:

  • Toast and juice will be available, free, from the old Cakes and Bakes shop, between 8 and 10am each weekday. This starts from October 2022 and is available for all students.
  • Free soup will be available from 3-4pm each day, from the 5th floor of Summer Row.
  • Hot water is available from all catering outlets - should you need it for making your own hot drinks, or otherwise (and we are also in the process of getting a hot water dispenser). This water is free if you bring your own cup, or 20p for a take-away cup. 
  • We also have microwaves available for students to use in McIntyre House (in the seating area, near the exit to Moss House), for ease of heating up any food that you bring in from home.

Travel assistance

Students living within the Network West Midlands area

  • Free 16-18 photocard
    Full time students that live within the Network West Midlands area are encouraged to get their free 16-18 photo card, which gives access to the child rate fares and season tickets on bus, trams and trains. Full information can be found on the TfWM website and you can apply online at, from early August.

  • Travel Vouchers
    If you live within the Network West Midlands area and are aged 19 and over - you may be able to eligible to receive an NXBus student Term Pass, or travel vouchers to purchase a bus pass, from the university. The Term Pass is renewed each term subject to satisfactory attendance.

Students living outside the Network West Midlands area

  • Travel allowance
    If you live outside the area covered by Network West Midlands (Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Coventry, Walsall, Solihull and Wolverhampton) you can access an allowance of up to £100 per month towards travel costs, subject to eligibility and good attendance.

To apply for travel vouchers or travel allowance, please use our Financial Support System. 

*Please note - Students who are eligible for the Discretionary Bursary Scheme (see above for more info) are expected to meet travel costs out of their weekly payment and will therefore not be eligible to receive these travel vouchers.


Childcare doesn't have to be an obstacle to learning at University College Birmingham. There are several schemes to assist UK students with childcare costs. If you need to find a suitable childcare provider, you can contact the Family Information Service - run by your local council or authority.

  • Students aged 16 to 19
    Students aged between 16 and 19 on the start date of their course must apply for childcare support through the Care to Learn scheme.

To find out more information and to apply, go to the Care to Learn section of the gov site. Alternatively, call the Care to Learn helpline on 0800 121 8989.

  • College students aged 20+
    Students aged 20 and over are able to apply for help with childcare costs through what is known as the Learner Support Fund, if their total household income falls below £30,810 per annum.

Funding is limited and allocated on a first come, first served basis. Students who make a successful application are expected to maintain an excellent attendance record for the duration of their course. You will need to apply via our Financial Support System.

Your childcare support is paid from the beginning of your course if you apply either:

  • before your course starts
  • within 28 days of starting your course

If you apply after that, your childcare support will only be paid from the beginning of the week that your application was received. It cannot be backdated.

Application Deadline 

Deadline for applications that need to be made through our Financial Support system:

For anyone who started their course in 2022 - all applications that need to be made through our Financial Support System (specified in each of the sections above) must be made by Friday 9th December 2022.

There will be a separate application window for those who are joining college courses starting in January 2023.

Deadline for Childcare Support

There is no specific deadline for applying, but your childcare support will only be paid from the beginning of your course if you apply either before your course starts or within 28 days of starting your course.

If you apply after that, your childcare support will only be paid from the beginning of the week that your application was received as this support cannot be backdated.

Deadline for applying for 16 to 18 travel card

You can apply for your 16 to 18 travel card at any time during your studies. But it is advised that you apply for one as early as possible, to make the most use of it and save on your commuting costs.

UCB Financial Support System

Online applications for the 2022/23 academic year are now open, click HERE to access the UCB Financial Support System and apply.

The first time you use the site, you must register for an account using your UCB student ID number (e.g. ABC12345678 – make sure you use capital letters). 

You will be asked to upload evidence of your household income during the application process, where applicable, so please have this ready.

Access the Support System

Please note:

  • Applications are only available online. We will not be offering paper forms or accepting email submissions of evidence.
  • All communication about your financial support application will be by email.
  • We will aim to process applications within 10 working days however this may be longer during peak times.
  • Remember the deadline for those who started studying with us in 2022 - is Friday 9th December 2022. Please submit your application as soon as you can! 

Get in touch

If you have any questions - you can visit us on the ground floor of The Link or contact us at or 0121 604 1000 ext. 2220 or 2269.

As this is a new system, please let us know if you come across any problems during the application process; and bear with us if you have any issues. You can report any issues to - including details of the problem and screenshots if you can, to help us get things fixed!

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