Parents and Guardians

Please note that depending on your visa, you may not be eligible for certain benefits and public funds from the UK and Scottish Governments. Public Funds can include Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit, Universal Credit, among other funds. You can find out more if you are   not a student   and if you are an   international student.

If you are a UK full-time student, you may still be able to claim Child Benefit.

Financial provisions to support children from the UK Government 

You may be eligible to claim   Child Benefit   if you are bringing up a child who is under the age of 16, or who is under 20 and staying in particular education or training pathways. Only one person can receive the Child Benefit for a child, and there is no limit to how many children you can claim for. The payment is every 4 weeks usually, but if you are a single parent or receive certain benefits, you can have this payment weekly. 

You may also be eligible for   Tax-Free Childcare   depending on your circumstances, income, and employment status. 

Financial provisions for supporting children from the Scottish Government 

Scottish Welfare Fund

This fund   is not specifically for parents/guardians; however you may still wish to apply if you are eligible. Within the Fund, there is a Crisis Grant for those on low income, and supports you if you are facing an emergency, such as damage to your home, you are struggling to afford food or heating, or an unexpected crisis. 

Scottish Child Payment

Parents and guardians of children under 16 years of age who receive certain benefits may be eligible for the   Scottish Child Payment,   which is a weekly payment to support costs associated with supporting a child. This payment is £25 per week and is paid every 4 weeks.

School Clothing Costs

In addition, if your child receives free school meals due to low income, you may also be eligible for   assistance with school clothing costs,   which you can apply for when applying for free school meals. Check with your council when you can apply for the grant. The exact amount in the grant depends on your council area, but everyone will get as a minimum:

  • £120 for primary school children 
  • £150 for secondary school children

Other financial assistance

There are other   grants and provisions   for parents/guardians, and people who are pregnant. 

Payments for student parents/guardians 

You may be eligible for certain payments if you are a parent/guardian of a child, depending on your home nation. Please note that restrictions apply based on your nationality and residency, as with general student finance payments.

Student Awards Agency Scotland

A   short guide   has been put together on additional grants available to student parents, as well as students who act as a carer for dependents. 

In addition to the usual tuition fee and maintenance loan, if you are a   full time undergraduate   student who is a lone parent, you may be eligible for the Lone Parents’ Grant or the Lone Parents’ Childcare Grant. These grants may also be available if you have legal responsibility for a sibling (depending on their age). The Lone Parents’ Childcare Grant is paid from the University. Find out more about these payments on the   SAAS website   and from the   University website.

You may also be eligible for the   Childcare Fund   from the University if you are funded by SAAS, have Registered Childcare, and you have taken out your full student loan entitlement. Please contact the Money Team ([email protected]) if you are unsure about your eligibility. You may be eligible if you are a taught postgraduate and have taken out the full living costs loan, but you should check with the Money Team.

Student Finance England

The   Childcare Grant   is paid on top of student finance and does not need to be paid back. This is only applicable if you are on a full-time course, and if your children are under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs. The amount you receive depends on how many children are dependent on you and on your household income. The grant is paid weekly.  Please note that you cannot receive the grant if you are receiving the Postgraduate Loan.

The   Parents’ Learning Allowance   is to support the support costs for full-time student parents. It does not need to be paid back and is paid on top of other student finance. How much you receive depends on your household income, and is usually paid in 3 instalments at the start of each term.  Please note this allowance is only available for full-time undergraduates

Student Finance Wales

If you are an undergraduate student who has children, you may be eligible for the   Childcare Grant   to help cover costs of childcare. This is open to full and part time students (depending on study intensity). The amount you can get depends on your income, number of children, and what your childcare costs are. These payments are usually 3 times a year and you do not have to pay the grant back. 

The   Parents’ Learning Allowance   can help to cover some extra costs for undergraduate parents. The payment depends on income, and if you have a partner or not. Part-time students can also apply and will be calculated based on study intensity. 

Student Finance Northern Ireland 

The   Childcare Grant   is to help pay for childcare, and is in addition to any other student finance you are receiving. You can only receive this payment if your children are under 15 (or under 17 if they have special educational needs), and is   only available to undergraduates. This payment is made 3 times per year, and depends on the number of children. 

The   Parents’ Learning Allowance   is a non-repayable grant to help parents with living costs, and is only available for   full-time undergraduate students. Payments are made at the start of each semester and depend on your income. 

University Provision 

The University has put together a   webpage   with details of financial assistance for students with children or dependents.

The   University of St Andrews Nursery   offers 44 places for children of students, staff, and members of the community. Students and staff get 10% off fees. New-born and young children up to the age of 5 are cared for, and all daily meals are provided. 

The University have put together more information about   supporting students with children and families.

Children’s Food

Free School Meals 

Young children in early learning and childcare can get free lunches if they have a funded place, or any of the benefits below. Contact your childcare provider or local council for more information.

The Scottish Government has introduced free school meals for all children in primary 1-5, regardless of financial factors.

From P6 onwards, children can receive   Free School Meals   if parents receive:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income support
  • Income based Job Seekers’ Allowance
  • Income based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (and your income is less than £18,725)
  • Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit and have an income of up to £8,717

School holidays can be a very worrying time when you have children who receive free school meals during term-time. You may be able to get help during the school holidays if you receive one of the benefits above. You can apply through your local council as soon as you start receiving benefits, it doesn’t matter when that falls in the school year.

Deals on children’s food

At   ASDA Café,   children under 16 years old eat for £1 every day. 

Dobbie’s Garden Centres   offer one free children’s meal for each adult main or traditional breakfast purchased. This is now available all day every day. 

At   Dunelm’s Pausa cafes,   children can eat free with every £4 spent, at any time.

At   Morrisons Café,   children under 16 eat free when you purchase an adult meal to the value of £4.49 or over. 

Travelling with children 


Young people aged 5-21 can get free bus travel with a YoungScot card. For 5-15 year olds, parents/guardians will need to apply on their child’s behalf, and teenagers 16+ can apply themselves.


Young people aged 16-17 can get 50% off most fares with a   16-17 Saver Railcard   (which costs £30 a year). 

Family and Friends railcards   can be bought online. They costs £30 for a 1-year card, or £70 for a 3-year card. Adults get 1/3 of travel and 60% for children (applies to up to 4 adults travelling together with up to 4 children). This applies to children aged 5-15 years of age.

Cheap train tickets

Under 5s generally travel for free with a paying customer on trains in the UK, but it is worth double checking when you book (under 5s travel for free on all Scotrail services). 

Children aged 5-15 years get half off most tickets – if your child looks older than 16 they may need to show proof of age (such as a Child Rate Photocard which you can get for free at train stations).

On Scotrail services, they offer   ‘Kids for a Quid’   whereby up to 4 children aged 5-15 years of age travel for £1 with an adult. This offer is only in place for off-peak times (generally 9:15am onwards on weekdays and anytime on a weekend) and is £1 for a return ticket. You will need to buy these tickets at the station ticket office, not online (though you can book your adult ticket ahead of time online). If the ticket office is not open, only then can you buy these tickets on the train. 

Children’s events and offerings

There are plenty of websites out there that give information on events for children by locality. Sometimes, information is given on any costs and accessibility, though it is always best to check with the provider. You can find events in Scotland on   Kids Days Out,   Day Out with the Kids   and   Visit Scotland.

Libraries and Bookbug

In Scotland, the Bookbug initiative aims to get very young children into reading and sharing stories. Your local library will host sessions (more information on this in the Spaces section). 

Every child in Scotland receives 4 free   Bookbug Bags   from birth to 5 years to help with their development. You don’t need to apply for these, and are available for every child in Scotland. If you have not received one and you think you should have, you can go to your local library or contact your local authority. They also have tactile books for children with additional support needs which you can request.

Entry with ‘Kids for a Quid’ Scotrail tickets

With a ‘Kids for a Quid’ ticket, you can get   free entry   to many attractions across Scotland for one child, when you buy an adult ticket to that attraction. 

Leisure Centres and fitness


Under 5s can swim at Fife leisure centres for free all year round.

Some local leisure centres are offering inexpensive events for children and teens, such as ‘Teen Rebel’ sessions for £1, and ‘Quid a Kid’ weekend racquet sports where adults pay £2 and under 17s only £1. All of these depend on age and are subject to availability. 

If you live in Fife and receive certain benefits (including Income Support, Universal Credit, and Housing Benefit), you can apply for an   Active Concession   for you and your family (defined as up to 2 adults and dependent children under 18 years of age), which can get you discounts on activities in leisure centres across Fife. You’ll need to provide evidence of the benefits you receive.


As part of Leisure & Culture Dundee, there are free   ‘Buggy Walks.’  The sessions aim to help parents/guardians get outside, connect with others, and give children an opportunity to socialise. There is no need to book, but check the website for details and contacts.

ParkLives Dundee   offers free events for all members of the family, across the parks and green spaces in Dundee. All events are free, and are advertised on Eventbrite, where you can obtain tickets. 

If you live in Dundee, you can get membership to the   leisure centres   for under 11s for £23 a month and 12-17s for £16 a month. If you get an adult membership yourself, you can get membership for your child for £16. 


Leisure centres   in Angus also offer a variety of activities during the school holidays, depending on age and availability. 

Under 18s   can join the leisure centre from £25 a month, which gives access to all facilities as well as free or discounted holiday activities and some junior coaching. 

If you are looking for a family membership, call or visit a  leisure centre   to find out what options are available to you.

There are also   individual memberships   at concessionary rates for those on certain benefits.