Advisers: Free school meals application fee waiver guide

An overview for those supporting eligible applicants applying to undergraduate courses starting in 2025.

What is the free school meals fee waiver?

For the 2025 cycle, UCAS is removing the undergraduate application fee for any student who is/or has received free school meals (FSM) during the last six years, up until the end of their final year at school or college. 

Why is UCAS waiving the fee?

As an independent charity, UCAS has an important role to play in supporting the most disadvantaged applicants to access higher education. The entry rate to higher education of applicants receiving free school meals is at its lowest level since 2019. Our aim is to remove potential barriers to accessing higher education for disadvantaged students. 

How will it work?

To deliver this initiative for the 2025 cycle (which opens on 14 May), we’ll need your help to encourage your eligible students to declare they have been in receipt of free school meals and support the process in the adviser portal.   

Your eligible students will need to

  • declare they are in receipt of free school meals in the ‘More about you’ section of the application
  • choose to ‘Pay Centre’ when they ‘Pay and Submit’ their application from 3 September 2024 

If you are supporting undergraduate applications, you will need to check your payment option in the adviser portal before 3 September

  • If your school/centre sets the application payment preference to ‘Invoice the school’ no action needs to be taken at this time.  

  • If your school/centre sets the application fee payment option to ‘All your applicants will pay online by credit or debit card’ settings will need to be changed before 3 September 2024 when pay/submit goes live for 2025 cycle. 

Access ‘Centre Management’ in the adviser portal and tick the box to set your application fee payment method to the third option which is:  

 Some applicants will pay online by card, UCAS will provide an invoice for remaining applicants (the invoice is to be paid by your centre) 

This will ensure that eligible students do not need to pay to submit their application. 

Next steps

We want to ensure students across the UK are aware of this new scheme, so that all eligible applicants can benefit from the fee waiver. 

We’re currently refining the verification process, which will be a simple tick box in the adviser portal.

Supporting documents for 2025 applications will reflect the new initiative and be sent to you before the end of June.

Frequently asked questions