If a student is eligible for free school meals but doesn’t actually receive them, what should they tick?
If a student is (or has been) eligible for free school meals, they should tick ‘yes’ whether they received them or not.
Are teachers and advisers expected to verify or validate the student’s response to this question?
No, this information is self-declared, and the university or college will be aware it hasn't been verified. If they require any further information, or to confirm the student’s circumstances, they'll get in touch to talk to the applicant directly. In some cases – e.g. to ensure eligibility for a bursary – they may require some evidence and will help the applicant understand what they will need. You'll be able to see the applicant’s response to this question in the Adviser Portal, so if you notice their response is inaccurate, we recommend you do talk to them and make sure they understand the question. If they're worried about replying ‘yes’, it might be a good opportunity to explain that this will allow the university or college to consider their achievements in context – and some may take this into account when making an offer. There may also be support available to help them make the move to higher education, although this will vary between different universities and colleges.
If the student is eligible but really doesn’t want to share this information, that's fine – they don’t have to.
Does this information get used for contextual offers?
This varies between individual universities and colleges, as they each have their own policies and practices regarding contextualised offers. Some will take the information about a student’s circumstances into consideration when making an offer, and others will purely use this information to connect students to the right support for their needs.
Not every university or college will offer support at the same level (or at all) so we strongly advise that students do their research before applying, and contact the provider directly to find out how they may be able to support them.
Students can find more information in the student FAQs – these are also linked from the help text in their applications.