Julia Hogg was in charge of distributing money to students who needed to pay for childcare but instead diverted huge sums into her own bank accounts
A court heard Hogg used the money to fund a lifestyle of luxury holidays and designer clothes.
She also lavished cash on her partner, relatives and friends during the six-year deception, claiming she had inherited a large sum of money.
Hogg was finally arrested after the college carried out an audit in 2015. She was arrested and said she had taken the money in order to “buy friends” .
Leeds Crown Court heard that students were deprived of vital support and the college may have lost students who due to them missing out on financial help.
Hogg began working at the college in 2009 and had a salary of £14,800.
She was in charge of overseeing Government-funded payments to childcare providers in order to allow students to attend the college.
Robert Galley, prosecuting, said Hogg diverted large sums into her own bank account.
At the height of her offending she stole £141, 000 in a single year.
Hogg was dismissed in October last year after her offending came to light.
Mr Galley said: “She made full admissions saying that she spent the money buying items for her partner, holidays and she deceived relatives in to thinking that she had received a large inheritance.
“She had spent money on other people’s children, said that she was depressed and would try to buy friends.”
The court heard Hogg stole at least £479,379. The actual figure is likely to be higher but computer records of her first two years of the offending could not be obtained.
Leeds City College have had to put new accounting systems in place as a result of the offending.
Hogg, of Field Lane, Thorpe Willoughby, near Selby, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and false accounting.
She was jailed for three years, eight months.
Kara Frith, mitigating, said Hogg had pleaded guilty to the offending at an early stage.
She said Hogg was ashamed of what she had done and was shocked when she was made aware of the extent of her offending.
She said: “Payments increased and it was motivated part by greed and part by a desire to be liked by others.”
Jailing Hogg, judge Peter Benson said: “You squandered this money on high living.”