If you are responsible for the care and wellbeing of a child aged 17 or under, you may be able to access additional support while studying.

This might mean you are:

  • a biological parent
  • a step parent
  • an adoptive or legal parent
  • a legally-appointed guardian
  • a foster carer
  • someone who provides kinship or other parental care to the child of a family member or friend

The UCAS application

UCAS has introduced a section in the application so you can share more information about your circumstances with the university or college – including whether you have parenting responsibilities. This information means the university or college will be able to connect you to the right support for your needs quickly and easily, and ensure you have all the information you need.

If you are a parent, just select ‘yes’ from the drop-down box in the question that asks if you have any parenting responsibilities in the ‘More about you’ section of the application. You do not need to give any further details, but if you would like to, you can provide more information in your personal statement.

Note: There is a separate question where you can share if you have caring responsibilities.

Not sure whether to share with your uni?

Sharing– or choosing not to share – that you have parental responsibility will never have a negative impact on your application for university or college

The purpose of inviting you to share this information is simply to enable your university or college to support you.

  • If you do choose to share this information, the university or college may get in touch with more details about how they can help you – and to tell you more about your options.
  • This information is treated sensitively and only shared with those responsible for arranging support and helping you with your application.
  • Knowing about your circumstances may also help admissions staff consider your achievements in context - it won’t reflect negatively on your application.

You are always in control – if you decide you don’t want support, you can choose not to accept it, but if you change your mind later on, or if your circumstances change, it’s ready for you.

Read our FAQs for more info about sharing your parenting responsibilities in the UCAS application

Not all universities and colleges offer the same type of support so research your options before you make your application. 

What sort of support could I get during my studies?

Universities and colleges are aware that if you are balancing your studies with family life, you may experience challenges from time-to-time. Extra support may be available to help you manage, such as:

  • pastoral support: Almost all providers assign its students to a ‘personal tutor’ – a member of academic staff who will meet with you regularly to discuss how you're progressing and how you are on a personal level. This is the person you should turn to if you have any problems that will impact your attendance or performance. They will either advise you what to do or signpost you to someone who can help  
  • academic support: If you have difficulty meeting deadlines, attending classes, or coping with work placements because of your additional responsibilities, most providers will have processes to help you manage your workload and keep on track. Talking to your personal or academic tutor if you are having any problems is a good idea
  • financial support: This could include access to hardship funds on top of your student loan, help with understanding if you are eligible for benefits, an NHS bursary, and general advice with budgeting
  • childcare facilities: Many providers have on-site nurseries – places fill up fast, so get in touch early to book a place, even if you do not yet have a confirmed offer. Consider how this will work if you have work placements as part of your course. Depending on your circumstances, it may be a good idea to check on baby changing facilities and breastfeeding areas
  • health and wellbeing support: Most universities can provide counselling – student services or the wellbeing team can give you details of services. Also look out for peer groups and societies for parents, where you can meet others in a similar position. Many campuses have convenient on-site health centres
  • family accommodation: Some universities provide a limited amount of family accommodation – find out how to apply as soon as possible
Do your research

Find out exactly what's available for you – not all providers can offer the same level of support.

We strongly recommend getting in touch with student services to discuss your support needs – their details will be on the uni website.

Go to an open day

As well as seeing the facilities first-hand, you can ask questions and speak to student services.

If the dates aren’t practical for you, see if you can arrange a visit independently, or ask to talk to another student in a similar situation.

What else should I consider?

  • Contact hours: How many are typically needed for the course and over how many days?
  • Start and finish times: How do they align with childcare opening hours or after-school clubs? Does the department you want to study with have a process for swapping classes (where possible) to times more appropriate to your childcare arrangements? Timetables are often issued close to the start of the course – if you need to plan childcare, contact the university as early as possible to make them aware.
  • Managing absence: Check if it’s possible to watch lectures online, in preparation for any unforeseen circumstances that might prevent you attending.
  • Childcare costs: Calculate, in advance, what these costs are likely to be – especially if you're planning to study in a new area. Bear in mind that some cities, such as London, may be more expensive than others. Remember the Childcare Grant will only cover up to 85% of the total cost, so think carefully about how you will pay the remainder.
  • Travel: How long will it take to get to the campus or work placements – and how will you travel? Have you factored the costs into your budget? Remember that parking on campus is often limited.
  • Work placements: When are these likely to happen and how will they impact on your childcare arrangements? Are there any alternatives to a physical work placement, e.g. online attendance, or alternative modules designed to assist students with home commitments? Students on healthcare professional courses (e.g. nursing) often have to manage shift patterns that include night shifts, early, and late starts, so you will need to consider how you will manage your childcare around this.

What financial support can I get while studying?

Government support

Trying to understand what you’re entitled to can be confusing, so it’s a good idea to speak to an adviser at the university or Citizens Advice, or at an independent advice centre.

  • Tuition fee and maintenance loans: if you care for someone aged under 18 on the first day of the academic year you apply for student finance, you will automatically be considered an independent student. This means you will be assessed on your own income, even if you still live with your own parents. 
  • Childcare Grant: if you’re in full-time higher education, and eligible for student finance, you may be able to receive up to 85% of your childcare costs for children under 15 (under 17 if they have special educational needs). This grant is means-tested and does not have to be repaid. Be aware, this grant is only payable if the childcare provider is registered with Ofsted – find a registered childminder. You can apply for the grant as part of your student finance application. Read more about the Childcare Grant.
  • Parents’ Learning Allowance: if you are a parent on a full-time undergraduate course, or an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course, you may be able to receive additional financial help. This is a means-tested allowance and does not have to be repaid. Read more about the Parents’ Learning Allowance. You can apply for the allowance as part of your student finance application. 
  • NHS Learning Support Fund (LSF): if you eligible for student finance and applying for an eligible healthcare course in England, you can apply for a training grant which includes additional support if you have a dependent child under 15 (under 17 if they have special educational needs). Read more about the NHS Learning Support Fund.
  • Other benefits: depending on your circumstances, you may be able to apply for other benefits as a parent, such as Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit (if you already get Working Tax Credit) and Council Tax Reduction.

Go to UCAS’ student finance hub

Further information