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Help and Support

West Thames College can help pay for course-related expenses such as the cost of:

  • special kits
  • books
  • art supplies and photographic materials
  • travel and course trips
  • exam fees
  • childcare

How much support you may get depends on your circumstances. Students aged 16-18, aged 19 continuing students, and students aged 19-23 with a final EHCP in place may qualify for regular payments from the bursary fund. Adults on funded courses or in receipt of an advanced learner loan may qualify for travel and childcare costs.

  • Bursaries and other financial assistance

    If you are dependent on benefits or on a very low income, there may be funds available from college:

    • Bursary - for students who are aged 16 to 18 on 31 August 2019; aged 19 and on the 2nd year of their course; or aged 19-23 with a final EHCP in place.
    • Advanced Learner Loans - You can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to help with the costs of a course. Your eligibility does not depend on your income and there are no credit checks. You must be 19 or older on the first day of your course and your course must be a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 qualification. You will have to pay your loan back when you have finished your course and are earning over £25,725 a year.
    • Loan Bursary - for students in receipt of the advanced learner Loan. For more information see the pdfAdvanced Learner Loan and Bursary booklet.
    • Discretionary Learner Support (DLS) - for students in further education aged 19+ on 31 August 2019 and studying a funded course at entry level, Level 1, 2 or 3.
    • Welfare Fund - for students who are not eligible for the DLS or a bursary and who are in severe financial difficulty.
  • Help with travel costs
    • 16+ Oystercard - free travel on all London buses and trams and half price on tube and overground. Eligible if you are 16, 17 or 18 on 31st August 2019.
    • 18+ Student Oystercard - offers full-time students aged 19+ on 31st August 2019 a 30% discount on all adult travelcards, bus and tram pass season tickets
    • Apprentice Oystercard - offers apprentices aged 18+ a 30% discount on all adult-rate travelcards, bus and tram pass season tickets.

    For more information see

    • Bus and Tram Discount Photocard for a 50% discount on all London buses and trams. Excludes train travel.
      You can get this card if you have been in receipt of income support, job seekers allowance or employment and support allowance (ESA) for at least 13 weeks. Get a paper application form from the Post Office or apply online.
      For those on job seekers allowance get a form from your Job Centre.
    • Disabled persons Freedom Pass - gives people with disabilities (including epilepsy) free travel on London buses, trams, tube and overground.
      Apply via your local council or ask the student welfare and support adviser to print a form for you.
    • 16-17 railcard gives you 50% discount on season tickets, peak, off-peak and advanced fares. (Available from September)
  • Free meals at college

    Students aged 16-18 as of 31st August 2019, Students aged 19 continuing the same course and students aged 19-23 with an EHCP may be eligible for free meals at college if they or their parents/guardians are in receipt of:  

    • 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 (HMRC))
    • Universal Credit with net earnings not exceeding the equivalent of £7,400 pa
  • Other sources of financial support

    Residential Support Scheme – a Government scheme to help students to pay for accommodation if they cannot study near to home. For details contact the Learner Support Helpline on 0800 121 8989 or go to

    Care to Learn (C2L) - helps young parents (aged up to and including 19) with the cost of Ofsted registered childcare and related transport costs. For details contact the Learner Support Helpline on 0800 121 8989 or go to You can also speak to the college nursery on 020 8326 2318.

    Professional and Career Development Loan – similar to an ordinary bank loan, but you won't have to start repaying the loan until you have finished your training. For details call 0800 100 900 or go to

  • Part-time work

    Job vacancies are displayed in the Student Services area. A careers adviser will help you search for vacancies, give advice on CVs, job applications, writing letters and making phone calls.

    Please note your benefits may be reduced as the result of your income.

pdfDownload the Student Guide to Financial Support 2019-20 booklet.

pdfDownload the Financial Support Checklist 2019-20.

For more information call the student welfare and support adviser on 020 8326 2412 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact the Information Centre to arrange a confidential appointment. You can also talk to the student welfare adviser when you enrol or come for an interview.

Advanced Learner Loan Eligible
West Thames College

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