Discretionary Learner Support (DLS) is a fund that allows us to provide financial support to students on a course funded through the ESFA with a specific financial hardship preventing them from taking part in learning.

To get help, you will need to meet the residency requirements for fee remission and ESFA/ MCA eligibility. You will also need to show that financial difficulties are likely to prevent you from following and/or completing your course.

  • Asylum seekers who are eligible for ESFA funding are also eligible to apply for DLS but will not receive cash payments. 

You will be asked to provide a description of the financial circumstances affecting your learning. You may also be asked to provide evidence that financial difficulties are preventing you from learning to support the decision-making process. This might include:

  • Proof of income-based benefit (e.g. your WEA Enrolment Form) or
  • Proof of annual gross household income (e.g. wages slips or bank statements for 3 months)
  • You may be asked to provide evidence of your annual outgoings (e.g. rent or mortgage, fuel, rates and utilities) this might also strengthen your claim.
  • If you receive cash payments from Learner Support, and you are on an income-based benefit, you will need to declare this to Job Centre Plus.

How do I apply for the Discretionary Learner Support Fund?

  • You will need to download the form below and complete this before your course, or within two weeks of the course starting. (DLS applications can take up to five working days to be processed. Please note during the enrolment period this could be longer). Click the links below and the download will start automatically.
  • We require all students to read the guidance notes on the DLS application from when applying for the DLS. This is to ensure you clearly understand the DLS eligibility and requirements.
  • If you live in any of the geographical areas listed below, please complete the correct form for that area.
  • The student support team will email you to confirm whether your application has been successful.  
  • If you are applying for childcare, you will need to have your DLS application approved before confirming your child/ren placement with a childcare provider.
  • If you are unable to complete an electronic copy of the form, ask your tutor or contact the student support team for an alternative copy of the DLS form.

DLS form WEA – for  ESFA courses (Not part of a Mayoral Combined Authority)

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)

Greater London Authority (GLA)

Liverpool City Region (LCR)


North of Tyne Combined Authority (Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside)

West of England Combined Authority (WECA- Bristol etc)

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) included- Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall)

West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, and the City of York)