Whatever your age, circumstances and background, building skills is one of the best ways to achieve your career goals. But accessing further education isn’t always as easy as it sounds, with expense being one of the biggest prohibitors to earning new qualifications.
If you aspire to enter further education but aren’t sure how you’ll afford it, this guide is for you. There are several loans, grants, bursaries and scholarship schemes available to learners of all ages, and we’ve put them all together in this helpful resource.
So, whether you’re a young person at the start of their further education journey, or an older learner looking to retrain and make a career move, you may be able to access funding and support that makes your learning journey a little easier to manage.
Advanced Learner Loans
The Advanced Learner Loan is England’s primary further education loan and can be used to cover the cost of college courses and training. The great thing about these loans is that eligibility isn’t based on your income and there are no credit checks, so provided you meet the criteria, you should be able to apply.
What’s more, Advanced Learner Loans don’t require you to start repaying the loan until you earn over a certain amount. However, you’ll be charged interest from the day you take out the loan, so that’s something to consider when budgeting for the future.
How much can I get from an Advanced Learner Loan?
The amount you’ll get from an Advanced Learner Loan varies depending on the type of course and how much it costs. As a minimum, you’ll need to borrow at least £300, with all the money paid directly to your course provider.
With the Advanced Learner Loan, you can also choose to pay for part of the course yourself, meaning greater flexibility. Plus, you can apply for up to four loans as part of the scheme, which is ideal if you want to complete multiple courses at different levels consecutively.
Am I eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan?
Below, we’ve set out the full eligibility criteria for applying for an Advanced Learner Loan in England:
- You must be 19 or older on the first day of your course
- The course must be a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 qualification
- It must be provided through an approved college or training provider
- You must be living in the UK on the first day of your course
- You must be a UK national or have ‘settled status’
- You must have been living in the UK or associated territories for at least three years at the start of your course
How to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan
Before you apply for an Advanced Learner Loan, you need to check whether your course qualifies. Contact your college or training provider; they will provide a ‘Learning and funding information’ letter which you’ll need as part of your application.
From there, it’s a case of applying online through the Student Finance England website. You can also apply through the post by accessing the GOV.UK application portal.
Tip – the Advanced Learner Loan is only available in England, with different (but similar) funding options for learners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Click here to learn about regional further education loans.
Grants and Support
The Learner Support grant is designed to offer support for those facing financial hardship while studying a further education course. Provided by the government, the money you’ll receive can help towards things like accommodation, travel, course materials, equipment and childcare.
How much you get and how you’ll receive the funding depends on your circumstances and the college or training provider in question. Payments may be made directly to you or to someone else, like your landlord or childcare provider.
To be eligible for Learner Support, you need to be 19 or over and studying a course at a college or training provider funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
For full detailers on Learner Support, visit the GOV.UK portal.
Care to Learn
The Care to Learn scheme is a childcare grant that supports parents studying a further education course. If you’re 20 or over and the primary carer of a child, you could receive financial help to support you during your studies.
Care to Learn funding covers things like childcare, travel, registration fees and other associated costs. If you’re eligible, you could be entitled to £160 per child, per week (rising to £175 for learners living in London) for the duration of your course.
Find out more on the Care to Learn website.
Family Action’s Educational Grants
Welfare and support charity Family Action offers education grants to those looking to participate in further education. Provided you’re over 14 and studying a further education course at an accredited college, you could receive a grant between £200-£300 to put towards your studies.
Family Action is a charity committed to helping families fulfil their potential. They help people from disadvantaged backgrounds to better provide for their loved ones, offering support and guidance to help them find work or pursue their career goals.
Visit the Family Action website to learn more and check your eligibility.
Local Council Grants
Local councils often have a pot of cash to support adult learners in their authority area. The amount you could receive will vary, but it’s certainly worth approaching your local authority to ask about the types of funding and support available.
Generally, councils base grant funding for further education on your personal circumstances, with most money set aside for those from disadvantaged backgrounds or facing financial hardship.
Contact your local authority to enquire about the possibility of further education funding.
Bursaries and Scholarships
Advanced Learner Loan Bursary Fund
If you’re eligible to receive an Advanced Learner Loan, you may also be able to apply for more funding from the associated Bursary Fund. Available to learners from certain backgrounds or with special requirements, bursaries start at £300 and you don’t need to pay it back.
To receive a one-off payment from the Bursary Fund, you’ll first need to successfully apply for an Advanced Learner Loan and enrol on a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 course. You can use the money to cover your tuition fees, or for things like childcare and travel.
Scholarships are surprisingly common at different colleges and training institutes around the UK, with funding and support available for a range of different courses. Some scholarship schemes are very specific and are designed to encourage students from different backgrounds to consider entering further education.
If you’re interesting in applying for a scholarship, there are two tools that can help your search: Scholarship Search and Scholarship Hub. These sites essentially collate all available scholarships into one place, so you can see what’s available.
We hope this guide helps you access the education you need to pursue your goals for the future. If you have a question about further education funding or want to learn more about studying with Oxbridge, our learning advisers are on hand to help. Visit the homepage or call us on 0121 630 3000 to find out more.