POVERTY among students is so great that most colleges are having to dip into their own limited reserves to help them out.
Changes in the way students receive grants and other financial support have had a devastating effect on poorer families.
A pilot scheme giving some students up to pound;40-a-week in education maintenance allowances (EMAs) was introduced by Education Secretary David Blunkett.
But local cash was pooled towards a pound;100 million national fund for the three-year EMA pilot, leaving very little for most colleges.
Findings from a survey carried out by the Association of Colleges, revealed exclusively to The TES, are the first sign that Mr Blunkett's strategy to encourage more 16 to 19-year-olds to stay in education is having mixed results.