College and Sixth Form support for EB

As well as being an exciting time for many, living with EB and starting sixth form or college may also present challenges that other teenagers don’t need to think about.

If you choose a college that is further away from home you may worry about transport and costs, having to explain EB to your new tutors and worry about making new friends. Many of your peers may be learning to drive, starting weekend jobs or becoming more independent and you might wonder whether you will fit in or be able to keep up with the demands of your chosen course.

If you need support, contact our DEBRA EB Community Support Team on 01344 771961 and select Option 1.


Support at college

Colleges and training providers are not allowed to turn students away due to the cost of their support or charge students for their support. Under the Equality Act 2010 they must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid disabled (having a physical or mental impairment negatively impacting your ability to do daily activities) students being placed at a substantial disadvantage.

Students with all types of EB (including those with milder EB, such as EBS) are entitled to help at college – this is usually called Learning Support. This can also be support with your mental health and anxiety, from ensuring you have extra time in your exams due to blisters when writing to ensuring that your learning environment is accessible and safe. If you have any concerns about your physical or mental health and how this might impact you at college then speak to the Learning Support team.

If you have a SEN or ECH plan at school, make sure your college is aware so they can work with you from when you apply for your chosen course.


Transport and independence

Going to college often offers further freedom and independence but can also be daunting if you are worried about additional transport costs associated with your EB. You might need to use public transport to get to college and worry about the impact of walking to the bus or train station.

Local authorities (LA)

Local authorities must make sure young people aren’t prevented from attending college because of transport difficulties. In England, councils must publish a Transport Policy setting out the support they offer to all young learners aged 16-19. The council also has a duty to encourage and assist disabled young learners with participating in education up to the age of 25. If you have an EHC plan, it should include your transport needs. 

Social Services

Under the Care Act 2014, your local Social Services or Social Work Department has a duty to support you with transport, which can include help getting to and from college.

Social Services should carry out an assessment of need and agree a personal budget. They must disregard your mobility component of any disability benefit you receive when doing so. It will then be up to you how you spend the budget in your personal support plan. In practice, this might sometimes mean a trade-off between spending your budget on personal care needs or transport.  

Please contact your DEBRA EB Community Support Manager if you are unsure whether you meet the criteria for an assessment under the Care Act or already receive help from your local authority.

Free and concessionary bus passes

There are free and concessionary bus pass schemes for disabled people across the UK. The terms and conditions of the schemes vary. To find out more, contact your Local Authority in England, Scotland and Wales or Translink in Northern Ireland.

Driving to college

If you receive the mobility component of PIP (or can satisfy your LA that you are eligible) you can apply for a blue badge, which will help you to park nearer to your college and minimise any walking distances. If you haven’t yet passed your driving test and can’t afford driving lessons, you might be eligible to apply for a Motability grant.


Funding your studies

Further Education (FE) is education that is post 16 years but below degree level. You may choose to continue your further education at the sixth form attached to your school, another sixth form or college or a specialist college.

You can receive free education up to the age of 19 years. After that age you might have to pay for the course yourself, but there are some people who may get some financial help or pay no fees at all. If you have had to miss school or college due to your EB, but still wish to continue your further education past the age of 19, Disability Rights UK has a useful fact sheet on funding further education for disabled students.

16 to 19 Bursary Fund 

If you’re aged between 16 and 19 years you might be eligible to receive a bursary. The scheme is made up of two elements. 

  • A bursary of up to £1,200 per year if you’re considered to be vulnerable - you’re considered to be vulnerable if you’re: in care or a care leaver; getting Income Support or Universal Credit; receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and also getting Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you qualify, your school or college will pay you.
  • A discretionary award if you face financial barriers - this includes people who are struggling with the costs of transport, meals, books and equipment. Your college or training provider is responsible for deciding who is eligible, how much to pay and how regularly to pay it. They will usually want to see evidence (e.g. a letter about your benefits).

Visit the website for more information on the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Advanced Learner Loan

There is a bursary fund for students who take out Advanced Learning Loans. This fund provides support similar to Discretionary Learner Support, but colleges have flexibility to respond to students’ needs and local circumstances. The fund can also be used to support learners with learning difficulties and disabilities (e.g. support workers, specialist equipment and necessary adjustments) under the Equality Act. 

You should apply for the loan through your college or training provider, but contact student services or your DEBRA EB Community Support Manager if you need support with your application.

This scheme is for students that are aged 19 or over, and therefore might be useful if you have had to have time off college due to your EB. Visit the website for more information about the Advanced Learner Loan.

Charitable trusts

Some charitable organisations (such as the Snowdon Trust) offer grants to help people living with disabilities attend further education or training. The Turn2us charity has a facility where you can search for grants and your DEBRA EB Community Support Manager might also be able to help.

Claiming welfare benefits whilst studying

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the main benefit for people aged 16 to 64 and living with a disability. This benefit is not means tested and helps many members with the additional costs of living with EB. Please see our PIP guide for more information and how to apply. If you qualify, the motability element can be useful if you would like to learn to drive.

Most full-time students cannot claim welfare benefits. However, if you’re living with a health condition or disability, you may be able to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), New Style ESA or Universal Credit. If you are unable to work because of your EB (or other condition) you may be eligible for one of these benefits – speak to your DEBRA EB Community Support Manager for more information.


Useful resources

  • Motability – providing support for disabled people

  • Turn2us – financial support charity for people living in the UK

  • Disability Rights UK – charity with a focus of supporting disabled people

For a full list of education resources, please visit our resources & toolkit page.