Free school meals for students at college or in further education

Students between 16 and 18 years old may be eligible for free lunchtime meals, depending on their or their parents' or carers' circumstances

This page explains the eligibility criteria and allows students or their parents or carers to submit an application to confirm eligibility for free meals.
Eligible colleges and further education providers

To be eligible for a free meal, students must be enrolled in further education funded via the Education Funding Agency at:

  • general further education colleges, including specialist colleges
  • sixth form colleges
  • commercial and charitable providers
  • higher education institutions (HEIs) with 16 to 19 funding from the EFA
  • independent specialist providers (ISPs)
  • local authorities (LAs) and FE institutions directly funded for 16 to 19s
  • Skills Funding Agency (SFA) only traineeship 16 to 18 providers
  • European Social Fund (ESF) only institutions
  • 16 to 19 academies and free schools
  • 16 to 19 only maintained schools
Students who are eligible

Students are eligible for a free meal if they:

  • are aged between 16 and 18 on 31 August (for a free meal in the academic year from September)
  • have their 19th birthday during their study programme: they remain eligible for a free meal until the end of the academic year in which that birthday occurs, or to the end of their study programme, whichever is sooner
  • are aged between 19 and 25 and are subject to a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) or Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) and ESF students attending their provision if they meet the eligibility criteria
  • are in receipt of, or have parents who are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:
  • Income Support
  • income-based Job Seekers' Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, (provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit), and have an annual gross income, of no more than £16,190 as assessed by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
  • Working Tax Credit run-on: paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • during the initial roll out of the benefit, Universal Credit
Students who are not eligible

The following groups of students are not eligible for a free further education meal:

Apply for free meals

You can apply online for free meals.

You will need the following information for yourself, or the person you are checking on behalf of:

  • your name, home address and contact details
  • National Insurance number or National Asylum Support Service reference number
  • student's name, date of birth, and college

Please note this is an external site. The data you enter will be used to process your request. If you have any questions about free school meals please contact your school or college.