Looking to study and got children?

Balancing the two isn’t easy, especially when thinking about the financial side of things.

Luckily, the Childcare Grant for students could go a long way to covering the costs of childcare while you study and easing some of that pressure.

Here’s everything you need to know about it.

 

What is the Childcare Grant for students?

It exists to help you continue your education - or to encourage you to study in the first place - by freeing you from some of your worries about childcare costs.

Because it’s a grant, it doesn’t have to be paid back, unlike student loans.

Plus, a Childcare Grant is given in addition to any other funding you get. 🎉

For students who usually live in England, it’s offered by the government through Student Finance England.

In this guide, we’ll focus on the Childcare Grant in England. But there are also Childcare Grants available for students who live in Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as other funding available for UK students with children, which we’ll cover later.

 

Who is eligible for the Childcare Grant?

To get the Childcare Grant if you normally live in England:

 

You must be a permanent English resident

This means you normally live in England, even if you decide to study in another country.

 

You have to be a full-time student

So if you’re studying a part-time or short course, you won’t be eligible - the Childcare Grant is for full-time students.

 

You have to study an eligible course

This can be:

  • An undergraduate course
  • Initial Teacher Training
  • A PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education)

Sixth-form college students and most postgraduate students will be ineligible.

 

Your children must be financially dependent on you

You’ll have to prove this as part of your application. 

 

Your children have to be under 15

The only exception is if your child has special educational needs, in which case you can still apply for the grant until your child is 17.

 

You must be eligible for student finance

If you don’t meet student finance eligibility requirements, you won’t get the student Childcare Grant.

Here are the full eligibility criteria for English students.

 

There are maximum household income requirements

If you have one child, your household income must be under £19,795.23.

Got two or more children? Your household income must be below £28,379.39.

 

You can’t get other childcare benefits at the same time

If you receive:

  • The childcare aspect of any other benefits (e.g. the Childcare Element of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit)
  • NHS help with childcare costs

You won’t be eligible for the Childcare Grant at the same time - so you’ll have to choose one or the other.

 

Your childcare must be from an approved provider

Approved providers can be found on the Ofsted Early Years Register or the General Childcare Register.

If you’re paying a family member to look after your child, they must be caring for the child away from the child’s home for you to be eligible for the grant.

For all Childcare Grant eligibility requirements for English students, check out the GOV.UK website.

 

How much can you get from the Childcare Grant?

Three factors determine how much you can get:

 

1. Household income

This is:

  • The amount you and your partner earn in total, if you live with a partner
  • The amount your parents (or your parent and their partner) earn in total, if you live with parents and are financially dependent on them

Learn more about household income here.

 

2. How many children you have

More children usually means a higher Childcare Grant. 

 

3. How much your childcare costs

But this is only up to a maximum amount. If 85% of your childcare costs exceeds the maximum Childcare Grant, you can only receive that maximum amount, no more.

So it’s 85% of your childcare costs or the maximum, whichever amount is lower.

 

What is the maximum Childcare Grant?

Here are the maximum weekly amounts you could get for 2024/25 if you live in England, taken from GOV.UK:

  • £193.62 if you have one child
  • £331.95 if you’ve got two or more children

 

How much Childcare Grant? Here’s an example

Imagine you live in England, have one child and your childcare costs are £200 per week.

In this case, the maximum you could receive is £170 - 85% of £200.

Now, imagine you have one child and your childcare costs are £300 per week.

85% of £300 is £255. But since this is above the maximum that can be given for one child, the most you’ll get from the Childcare Grant is £193.62 per week - which is the maximum.

 

Will the Childcare Grant affect my other benefits?

Luckily, the Childcare Grant won’t affect any other means-tested benefits you receive (e.g. Housing Benefit).

 

How will I receive my Childcare Grant?

In England, the Childcare Grant won’t be paid directly to your bank account, as other grants would be.

Instead, it’s paid into what’s called a Childcare Grant Payment Service account. You’ll have to set up one of these if your application is successful.

The money is paid into this account and your childcare provider will send requests for payments to this account - which you’ll have to approve each time.

You don’t have to worry about setting up any grant payments from your bank - everything will be handled through this online account.

 

How to apply for the Childcare Grant

You apply for the Childcare Grant online, as part of your general student finance application.

You’ll need to provide evidence to prove certain things - try to share everything the first time around to have your application accepted ASAP.

You’ll need evidence of your child’s identity, which could be a copy of their passport or birth certificate. You’ll also need to show that your child depends on you financially - this could be a Child Benefit letter.

For everything you need to know about student finance, check out our ultimate guide to student funding.

Childcare Grants for non-English students

If you usually live in one of the other UK countries, there are also grants available:

Wales

Wales has its own Childcare Grant, with very similar criteria to the English version.

One key difference is that part-time students can also get this Childcare Grant - but the amount offered will be lower. Another difference is that the grant money is paid directly into your bank account.

Like the English version, it still covers up to 85% of your childcare costs. The maximum weekly amounts are:

  • One child - £189
  • Two or more children - £324

Read more about the Student Finance Wales Childcare Grant.

 

Northern Ireland

There’s a separate Childcare Grant offered for those from Northern Ireland.

Again the criteria are very similar to what’s been covered. In Northern Ireland, payments are also made directly to your bank account and you’re responsible for making payments to the childcare provider.

The maximum weekly grant amounts are:

  • One child - £148.75
  • Two or more children - £255

Learn more about the Student Finance Northern Ireland Childcare Grant.

 

Scotland

There’s no Childcare Grant available to all parents in Scotland. However, there are a couple of grants available for single parents:

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Childcare Grant: things to be aware of

You can only use the Childcare Grant once your course has started

Before your course start date, you won’t be able to make any payments through your Childcare Grant Payment Service account. So you’ll have to cover any costs that come up before your course starts from your own pocket.

For students from Wales and Northern Ireland, payments are made three times a year, at the beginning of each term - so you also won’t have the money for any costs that need to be paid before the start of the academic year.

 

The Childcare Grant can only cover weekly childcare costs

If you have to pay a deposit to secure your child’s place at the childcare provider or any sort of registration fees, you’ll have to cover this yourself.

 

What happens to any unused Childcare Grant money? 

If you don’t use all the Childcare Grant you’ve been given, you won’t receive the leftover money - it’ll be returned to your country’s student finance organisation.

 

Reasons you might have to pay back the Childcare Grant

  • If you leave your course early
  • If you’ve been paid too much in a Childcare Grant

 

If you’ve not decided on your childcare provider

You can still complete your grant application and get accepted, even if you’re not sure who your provider will be.

However, you’ll only be able to receive payments into a Childcare Grant Payment Service account once you’ve decided on your provider and linked with them through your account.

In Northern Ireland and Wales, if you haven’t got a provider, you’ll still receive money, but the amount will be capped until you’ve confirmed one.

 

Changing your childcare provider

If you ever need to do this, you can do so through your online account.

What other support is available for students with children?

Free childcare

You might be able to get some free childcare. The rules vary depending on where you live in the UK.

Usually, there’s a minimum number of hours that all children are entitled to - for example, in England all three- and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week.

If you work, you might be eligible for more free childcare.

Learn more here.

 

Parents’ Learning Allowance

This can help with the costs of your course if you have children in England or Wales.

The maximum amounts you could get are:

  • England - £1,963
  • Wales - £1,538

 

Care to Learn

Available if you live in England or Northern Ireland, this may be what you’re looking for if you study a publicly funded course and are a young parent (aged 16 to 20).

Like the Childcare Grant, it’s a weekly amount that can be paid to your childcare provider. But it can also cover other childcare costs, such as deposits or registration fees.

It can even help to cover the costs of travelling to your childcare provider for pick-up and drop-off.

 

Scholarships, bursaries and grants

There’s loads of additional funding available to help you fund your studies in the form of scholarships, bursaries and grants.

Some will be specifically for students with children. But make the most of all other free money you’re eligible for too.

Learn more in our blog about additional funding for students.

Are you struggling financially? Here are some other places to find help.

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