What does it cost to go to a Vocational School?
Finding the funds to study on dance, drama and musical theatre courses can be expensive. A course at a CDMT accredited vocational training school can cost anything between £7,000 and £30,000 per year. Depending on where you study, different types of funding exist.

Music and Dance Scheme (MDS)
The Department's Music and Dance Scheme currently enables exceptionally talented young musicians and dancers to access financial help for specialist education or training. MDS provides grants and help with fees at 8 independent schools and 21 centres for advanced training. Your child must be aged 8 to 19 to be eligible for the music schools and 11 to 19 for the dance schools.

At present four dance schools offer MDS places to ballet students at 11:

  • Elmhurst Ballet School
  • The Hammond
  • Royal Ballet School
  • Tring Park School for Performing Arts

How to apply - Apply direct to the school or centre you want to go to.

In addition, the Centres for Advanced Training (CATs) are organisations or consortia of organisations/partners for exceptionally talented children allowing them to gain access to specialist dance training in other dance genres.

Visit Gov.uk for more information on MDS and the National Dance CATs website for more information on Centres for Advanced Training in Dance.

Dance and Drama Awards
First introduced in 1999, the Dance and Drama Awards offer annual scholarships to exceptionally talented performing arts students studying at some of the country's leading providers of vocational training in dance, drama and musical theatre. Funded by the government through the Education Funding Agency (EFA), DaDAs offer reduced tuition fees and assistance with living costs for the duration of the course. Following a review of the scheme in 2012, the government has confirmed that in 2015/16:

  • Funding for the DaDA scheme will remain at approximately £14m per year
  • Students who are the most talented and likely to succeed in the industry will be eligible to apply for means-tested support towards fees and living costs
  • New students who are offered awards will be funded to the end of their courses
  • Arrangements for DaDA students who received their awards for courses starting prior to 2013 will remain unchanged

Income assessment of the Awards means that support for students from low income households will be increased. For example, a student whose annual household income is under £30,000 will pay no fees for their course. If their household income is under £21,000 they could receive up to a maximum of £5,185 per annum in a grant to help with living costs

Details of the levels of support available are published on the DaDA Information website.

Nineteen providers have been selected to offer DaDAs to students, in order of talent, in accordance with the level of support as determined by income assessment. Students intending to apply for an award should contact a vocational DaDA school directly to enquire if it has any DaDA funding available. The nineteen providers are all quality assured by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the eligible courses are validated by Trinity College London. Most have an additional accreditation with the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre. 

DaDAs are only available to students studying for the following Trinity College London (TCL) qualifications at one of the 19 approved Providers:

  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Acting
  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Dance
  • Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre
  • Level 5 Diploma in Professional Acting
  • Level 5 Diploma in Professional Dance (Ballet or Contemporary Dance)

To be eligible for an award a student must:

  • be an EU citizen and have been living in the EU for 3 continuous years immediately before the start of the course
  • have 'settled' status
  • have indefinite leave to remain in the UK

CDMT schools offering DaDAs are indicated under Accredited Schools. Students intending to apply for an award should contact a vocational school directly to enquire about DaDA funding. You can find out more about the DaDA scheme on the DaDA Information website

Higher Education (HE)
Higher Education courses lead to a degree, diploma or certificate validated or awarded by a university; a number are now also designated 'vocational'. Students following HE dance courses do not qualify for DaDAs but are eligible for mandatory, Higher Education awards which cover the greater part of tuition fees.

Tuition Fee Loan - English or EU full-time or part-time students can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan. The loan is paid directly to your university or college. You have to pay it back.

Full-time studentTuition Fee Loan
Full-time Up to £9,000
Full-time at a private university or college Up to £6,000


Part-time studentTuition Fee Loan
Part-time Up to £6,750
Part-time at a private university or college Up to £4,500

Maintenance Loan for Living Costs
You must be a full-time English student. Part-time and EU students and students aged 60 and over can’t apply. You may have to give details of your household income. The loan is paid directly into your bank account at the start of term. You have to pay the loan back.

Full-time studentLoan for courses from September 2015
Living at home Up to £4,565 
Living away from home, outside London Up to £5,740 
Living away from home, in London Up to £8,009
You spend a year of a UK course studying abroad Up to £6,820


From 1 August 2016 the Maintenance Loan is increasing. You could get a loan of up to £8,200 per year if you’re studying outside London.

Use the student finance calculator to estimate your Maintenance Loan.

Maintenance Grant for Living Costs - You must be a full-time English student. Part-time and EU students can’t apply. You have to give details about your household income and your course start date. The grant is paid into your bank account at the start of term. You don’t have to pay the grant back, but any grant you get will reduce the Maintenance Loan you can get.

Full-time student – household incomeGrant for courses from September 2015
£25,000 or less £3,387
£30,000 £2,441
£35,000 £1494
£40,000 £547
£42,620 £50
Over £42,620 No grant

For more information visit the Gov.uk website.

Housing Benefit
For young people to be eligible to be considered for housing benefit while in full time training they need to be studying on a course which leads to a qualification at Level 3 (A-level equivalent) or below. They must also be under 21 and have commenced the course before they are 19 years of age.

The Trinity College London (TCL) Professional Performing Arts Diplomas are further education vocational qualifications on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) set at Levels 5 and 6, therefore the relevant Housing Benefit regulations exclude students of such courses from entitlement. This means that students studying for this qualification are NOT eligible for housing benefit.


Following the results of a recent housing benefit appeal and the decision made by the Upper Tribunal of HM Courts & Tribunal Service, students studying for the Trinity College London (TCL) Professional Performing Arts Diplomas who have in the past received Housing Benefit will now not be able to receive any further payments.


Other Funding
Some courses may not be funded by any awards. In these cases, students are responsible for the full cost of fees and may need to secure private funding via loans, scholarships and trusts. 

There may be charitable organisations or large companies based in your area that would respond to a request for sponsorship. We would suggest visiting your local library which will have a list of local charities you can apply to.

A Professional and Career Development Loan may also be another option to support your costs. Loans can be applied for between £300 and £10,000. If successful in your application, you would only begin repayments after study. The Skills Funding Agency pays the interest on the loan while you're studying – and for one month afterwards. To be eligible, you'll need to be 18 years old or over. To find out more information regarding Professional and Career Development Loans please visit the Gov.uk website.