Skip to content

Extra help for students with children

If you’re a full-time higher education student with dependent children, you may be able to get extra financial support to help with childcare costs' and costs related to your course.

Financial help for parents in higher education

Full-time students with children may qualify for extra financial help on top of the standard student finance package. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get:

  • the Childcare Grant (to help with childcare costs)
  • the Parents’ Learning Allowance (to help towards course costs)
  • help through the Support Funds (if you’re in financial difficulty)
  • Child Tax Credit

Childcare Grant

The Childcare Grant is there to help full-time students with the cost of childcare during term times and holidays. Any money you get doesn’t have to be paid back. The table below shows the maximum amounts available, but how much you actually get depends on:

  • your income and the income of your dependants (for example, your spouse or partner)
  • the actual costs of your childcare

Maximum amounts available for 2014/2015

Number of children Amounts available
one child up to £148.75 a week (85 per cent of actual costs up to £175 a week)
two or more children up to £255 a week (85 per cent of actual costs up to £300 a week)

Who can apply for the Childcare Grant?

You can apply if you:

  • are a full-time student and
  • have dependent children under 15 and they’re in childcare that qualifies for the grant
  • have dependent children under 17 with special needs - and they’re in childcare that qualifies for the grant

If you, or your spouse or partner, get the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit, you won’t be able to get the Childcare Grant as well.

Types of childcare that qualify

Not all types of childcare qualify for the Childcare Grant. The conditions your childcare provider needs to meet varies depending on where in the UK you study.

Parents' Learning Allowance

The Parents' Learning Allowance can help pay for course-related costs such as books, materials and travel. It’s available on top of any standard student finance you get, and doesn’t have to be paid back.

The amount of Parents' Learning Allowance you get will depend on your household income. For 2014/2015, the maximum is £1,538 a year.

You may be able to get the Parents' Learning Allowance if you’re are a full-time student with dependent children. You can apply whether or not you get the Childcare Grant.

Childcare Grant and Parents' Learning Allowance: how to apply

You can apply for the Childcare Grant or Parents' Learning Allowance before or during your course. On the main student finance application, complete the section that asks about applying for extra help for students with children.

Access to Support Funds

The Support Funds can provide support for students on lower incomes who run into financial difficulties. Universities and colleges decide how to distribute payments, but students with children - and especially lone parents - are a priority for the fund.

Child Tax Credit and other benefits

You may also be able to claim Child Tax Credit from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The amount you get will depend on your personal circumstances and income. Money you get through the Childcare Grant or Parents' Learning Allowance won’t be counted as income when working out your entitlement to tax credits or other benefits.

What to do if your circumstances change

If your circumstances change - for example, if your income goes up or down - it’s important to tell:

  • your local Student Finance NI office if you’re getting the Childcare Grant or Parents’ Learning Allowance
  • your university or college if you’re getting help through the Support Fund
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if you’re getting tax credits

More useful links