Discretionary Learner Support

If you’re aged 19 or over, on a further education course and facing financial hardship, you could get Discretionary Learner Support (DLS). You apply to your learning provider for DLS.


Discretionary learner support (DLS) is provided to support learners with a specific financial hardship that prevents them from taking part in learning. Hardship funding can also be provided to support vulnerable and disadvantaged learners and to remove barriers to education or training.

You apply to your learning provider (eg your college) for DLS. How much you get depends on your circumstances.

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 (eg college) decides how much you get. It depends on their scheme and your circumstances.

How the money is paid

The money could be:

  • a direct payment to you - which you don’t have to pay back
  • 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 depends 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 Discretionary Learner Support (DLS) you must be:

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

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 can’t apply

You can’t claim if you’re:

How to Claim

Apply directly to your learning provider (eg college) - they each have their own application process.

Speak to your student support services to:

  • get help applying
  • find out what’s available

Appeal a decision

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

The information on this page was supplied by the gov.uk website.

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