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Advanced Learner Loans

What is an Advanced Learner Loan?

Further education at Level 3 and above gives you the skills and knowledge that you need to develop professionally, increases your potential, and gives you the qualifications you need to progress in life and work.It also provides evidence of your skills and knowledge to potential employers and improves your chances of getting the job that you want.

For the first time, you are entitled to an ‘Advanced Learner Loan’ to cover your course fees – if you are studying at Level 3, 4 or 5, and you are aged at least 19 on the first day of your course.

You don’t have to take out a loan. But its availability means that you can improve your knowledge and skills without needing to pay the course fees upfront. You could decide to pay part of your course fees with a loan (minimum £300) and part with your own finances.

Most learners aged 19 and over, studying at level 3 and above, will qualify for these new loans from the UK Government. It’s easy to apply, your household income is not taken into account and there is no credit check. You will not have to pay anything back until your income is over £21,000 a year.

How do you qualify?

To qualify you must be:

  • Aged 19 or over on the first day of your course (there’s no upper age-limit)
  • Living in the UK on the first day of your course and have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years immediately before this
  • Enrolling on an eligible course at Level 3, 4 or 5 and above which includes: A Levels, Access to HE Diplomas and other Diplomas and Certificates

How do you apply?

Applying is easy, you can apply for a loan from May 2016 for courses starting between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017.

You will be given a ‘Funding and Information Letter’ from the college once a course offer has been made to you, this letter will contain all the information needed to apply for the loan.

You can apply online to Student Finance England using the online application form www.gov.uk/advanced-learning-loans/how-to-claim or you can download the forms and apply by post.

How much can you get?

The minimum loan amount you can apply for is £300; the maximum loan amount you can apply for is the total course fee charged by the college. Please note that if you apply for a loan amount which is less than the college’s course fee, you will be required to pay the difference to the college.

How’s the loan paid?

Student Finance England (SFE) will pay the loan directly to the college.

What happens if you withdraw from your course?

If you withdraw from your course within 2 weeks of the course start date, the loan will not come into effect and you will not have to repay anything back. If you leave the course after more than two weeks then you’ll be liable to repay the loan payments that have been made to the college on your behalf, for the time you have been on the course.

Please note you may also be required to pay the remainder of your course fees to the college.

Can you apply more than once?

Yes, once a you have completed your course you will be eligible to apply for more 24+ Advanced Learning Loans, for different qualification types, (up to a total of four loans) to help you progress in your studies.

How do you pay the loan back?

You will start repaying your loan from April 2018 and will only start making repayments if your income is more than £21,000 per year.

You will only pay back 9% of any income above £21,000 a year, see the table below for examples of what you will repay:

Income before taxMonthly salary before tax Monthly loan repayment 
Up to £21,000 £1750 £0
£22,000 £1833 £7
£25,000 £2083 £30
£30,000 £2500 £67
£35,000 £2917 £105
£40,000 £3333 £142

Here's an example to make things a bit clearer:

Salary: £25,000
Minimum salary level: £21,000
Salary on which loan repayment calculated: £4,000
Interest rate: 9%
Weekly repayment: £6.92

If you stop working, or your income falls back below £21,000, your repayments will stop and only start again when your income is more than £21,000 a year.

Any loan remaining 30 years after you were due to start making repayments will be wiped.

Are you looking at enrolling onto an Access course?

If you take out a loan for an Access to Higher Education course and then go on to complete a Higher Education course you will have your loan for the Access course written off.

Does the loan accrue any interest?

Yes, the following table gives details on the interest accrued on the loan

IncomeInterest Rate
While you’re studying and until the April after you leave the course Rate of inflation (Retail Price Index) plus 3%
£21,000 or less Rate of inflation
£21,000 to £41,000 Rate of inflation plus up to 3%
£41,000 and over Rate of inflation plus 3%

Making the right choice

It’s important you consider your own circumstances and look into all options for paying for your course before choosing to take out a loan. You can get independent financial advice from the Money Advice Service at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/loans-for-adults-in-further-education-and-training

Useful Links

Find out more

For more information about 24+ Advanced Learning Loans, including information about the application process, please follow the links below: