Eligibility for free meals

Students must be aged between 16 and 18 on 31st August of the same year they intend to start their course to be eligible for a free meal in that academic year. Students who turn 19 during their study programme will remain eligible for a free meal until the end of the academic year in which they turn 19 or to the end of their study programme, whichever is sooner.

Students aged 19 plus who are subject to an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) and European Social Fund (ESF) students aged between 16 and 18 on 31 August 2021 are also entitled to a free meal while attending their provision if they meet the eligibility criteria.

The following groups of student are not eligible for a free meal:

  • Students aged between 14 and 16 (these students are already covered by different provision)
  • Students aged 19 or over at the start of their study programme, unless they have an EHC Plan
  • Apprentices, including those with an EHC Plan

Free meals are targeted at disadvantaged students. For the purposes of eligibility for free meals, ‘disadvantage’ is defined by the students being 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
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit with earnings not exceeding the equivalent of £7,400 pa (all students already receiving free meals on or after 1 April 2018 will continue to receive free meals whilst Universal Credit (UC) is rolled out. This will apply even if household earnings rise above the new UC threshold during this time. We may require previous entitlement letters from prior learning providers to confirm your previous eligibility to free meals)

A student is only eligible to receive a free meal when they, or a parent/guardian on their behalf, have made a successful application to the institution where they are enrolled.

Students must also satisfy the residency criteria set out in the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) ‘Funding regulation’ guidance for the 2021 to 2022 academic year. This document can be found here: www.gov.uk/guidance/16-to-19-education-funding-guidance.

Application and verification of student eligibility

The student or their parent/guardian, must submit an application using the bursary application form which can be found on the college website from June of the year they intent to start their course.

As part of the application, evidence must be provided of the qualifying benefits set out above, for example a copy of an award notice or letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (please do not send originals).

The provision of free meals to students

Successful applicants will have their award credited to their student card for use on site at the college catering outlets. This will be an allowance of £2.75 per day of scheduled attendance.