Schools and colleges receive disadvantage funding as part of their general 16-19 funding to help them support disadvantaged young people. In 2016/17 this funding totalled just under £550 million. Disadvantage funding is not ring fenced. This means institutions are free to use this element of the funding to choose the best way to attract, retain and support disadvantaged students and those with learning difficulties and disabilities. Providers also receive a 16-19 bursary fund allocation to provide discretionary bursaries for financially disadvantaged young people who need additional support to help them with costs, such as transport. Schools and colleges were allocated £132 million of bursary funding in 2016/17. Additionally, students in defined vulnerable groups are eligible for yearly bursaries of £1,200 (pro-rata for part-timers).
The Department does not collect detailed information on how the disadvantage funding and bursary fund allocation is used, nor does it dictate exactly how the money should be spent. Post-16 institutions have a good deal of flexibility in how they can use their overall resources to support students. Some colleges support bus transport. However, the Department does not collect data on the amount of money spent on this.