As a Looked After Child or Care Leaver in full time education you will be entitled to financial support up to the age of 25. What support you get, depends on whether you're at college or university, and whether you live in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
This information is intended as guidance only – the easiest way to find out about all the financial support you might be entitled to is by getting in contact with the college or university you want to go to. You should also talk to your Social Worker.
Remember too - if you go to a college or university with the Quality Mark you might get extra financial support. All you need to do is ask and find out when you are applying.
Looked after young people and care leavers should get a £1,200 bursary per year if you stay on in full-time education at college. This is called the 16-19 Bursary. Talk to the college you are applying to or studying at to find out how you can claim it.
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
If you are studying in full-time education at college in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales they have something called EMA - an Education Maintenance Allowance.
Click on the links below to find out more:
Northern Ireland - EMA is a fortnightly payment of up to £60 for students who are aged 16, 17, 18 or 19 years.
Scotland - EMA is available to eligible 16-19 year olds and can be paid for up to 3 years. Apply by asking your college or Local Education Authority for an application form.
England and Wales
Care Leavers going on to university in England and Wales should get the £2,000 Higher Education Bursary from their local authority. You might also get extra support - just talk to your Social Worker.
A lot of universities with the Quality Mark will also offer a Care Leavers Bursary on top of this - all you have to do is ask the named contact when you are applying.
Support Funds will be available through your university and students who have been in care are a priority group for this. These payments are usually given as grants which you do not need to pay back, but sometimes they might be a short-term loan which you will have to pay back.
The easiest way to find out is to ask the named contact.
If you are studying full-time at university and are under 24 years old, you should also get support from your HSC Trust for your accommodation. They may also give you some money to support you during your course. Talk to your Personal Adviser or Social Worker about what support you can get.
As a care leaver in a full-time higher education course in Scotland you should be able to get the maximum Young Students Bursary. Even if you are not applying to university straight after school you might still be able to get this. This bursary is paid instead of your loan so you do not need to pay it back.
The Student Awards Agency for Scotland also offer a Care Leavers Grant. This can be up to £105 a week to help you with accommodation costs during the summer holidays and they pay it directly to your landlord. You do not have to be staying in private rented accommodation or a halls of residence to get the grant - you can apply if, for example, you are staying with a friend or relative, or continuing to live with foster carers.
The National Care Advisory Service (NCAS) have a guide, 'Know your rights, know your benefits' for young people in and from care in England about what benefits you are entitled to.
The Who Cares? Trust have put together some webpages about finance for Looked After Children and Care Leavers.
Photo credits (Flickr): 1) hackNY - 'hackNY Spring 2011 Student Hackathon'. 2) hackNY - 'Fall 2010 jackNY Student Hackathon'.