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19+ Discretionary Learner Support

f you’re aged 19 or over, on a further education course and facing financial hardship, you could get Discretionary Learner Support (DLS). This Government scheme assists eligible students to get help with the costs of kit and equipment, travel and meals which are directly related to their learning.

You apply to your learning provider for DLS. How much you get depends on your circumstances and there will be an assessment of your household income.

The money can help pay for things like:

  • accommodation and travel
  • course materials and equipment
  • childcare - if you qualify

What you'll get

Your learning provider decides how much you get. It depends on their scheme and your circumstances.

The money could be:

  • paid by a direct payment to you - which you don’t have to pay back
  • paid by a loan - which you have to pay back
  • paid to someone else - eg a landlord

Your learning provider decides how the money is paid to you. It can depend on their scheme and what the money is for.

Check with the student support staff at your college or the National Careers Service about other funding you could get.


To get DLS you must be:

  • 19 or over
  • studying at a learning provider funded by the Skills Funding Agency (check with your learning provider)

You must be 20 or over to get help with childcare costs. If you’re 19, apply for Care to Learn instead. You can apply even if you get other types of funding, eg:

  • Professional and Career Development Loans
  • Care to Learn
  • Disability Living Allowance

Who cannot apply?

You cannot claim if you are:

  • getting student finance for higher education
  • on a learndirect course
  • on an apprenticeship training scheme
  • on a work-based learning course
  • on an Adult & Community Learning course

How to claim

You apply directly to your learning provider - each one has its own application process. Speak to your student support services to:

  • get help applying
  • find out what is available

Appeal a decision

If you are not happy with the decision about your Discretionary Learner Support, contact your learning provider to appeal it.



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