You don't have to pay for a course up front
Advanced Learner Loans are a fantastic option if you are 19 years of age or above and would like to get new qualifications, but don’t feel you can afford to pay for a course upfront.
Many people take out student loans for thousands and thousands of pounds every year to pay for a university courses through a student loan – the Advanced Learner Loan is exactly the same process except you must be 19 or over and you can borrow from as little as £300. In fact, it’s even the same, Government Approved, Student Loan Company from which you are borrowing the money!
To access an Advanced Learner Loan you must be:
- 19 years of age or above on the first day of your course
- Planning to study a Level 3 or above course
(see our Apprenticeship page for info on levels)
There are additional eligibility criteria regarding:
- Nationality and/or residency
- The course you choose
- If the training company is approved for Public Funding
To get a rough idea if you’re eligible or not there is a handy tool at the bottom of this page – just scroll down.
Top tip: If you are interested in studying a course at Level 3 or above, the simplest thing to do is talk to a training company about the course you’re thinking of studying. They will then be able to tell you if they are eligible to offer loans, if that particular course qualifies and if you meet the criteria to receive a loan. Simple!
You don’t have to start paying back the money until you are earning over a certain threshold. In the case of Advanced Learne Loans, that is currently £21,000 per annum.
Once you are earning over £21,000 – a small amount will come out of your pay packet each month, just like tax and national insurance. The amount that comes out will be in relation to how much you earn. There is a guide on the Student Loan Company’s website for you to work out how much you’d pay back each month. At time of writing, if you earn £21,000 you pay back £20 a month - that's the same price as many people's mobile phone bill.
What if you lose your job or you pay goes back below £21,000?
Unlike a bank loan or mortgage, your loan is pay-related and comes out of your wages. Therefore, if you were to be made redundant or go part-time your loan repayments will stop until you are earning over £21,000 again (n.b. the threshold could change in the future, but is likely to be in line with inflation).
Top tip: The loan is not based on achievement. If you don’t complete your course, don’t attend or don’t pass – you are more than likely to still have to pay the loan back, so make sure (just like a Student Loan) you are totally committed to the course before starting.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to borrow the whole amount – so if you wanted to pay for some of the course up front and borrow the rest (if more the £300), you can do so.
Once you take out an Advanced Learner Loan you won’t physically see the money – this will go directly from the Student Loans Company to the training provider you have chosen to study with. You can just turn up to your lesson/seminar/webinar etc knowing that payment is taken care of.
Although the Advanced Learner Loan is for learners, an employer of an SME may decide to part-fund a course for their staff - with the employee taking out a loan for the remainder. By splitting the cost, the employer safeguards some of their investment should the employee decide they are leaving the company soon after completing their course, plus with the learner investing in their own future - they are more likely to achieve the qualification. Concurrently, the learner may feel that paying for their own training will give them peace of mind should they decide to leave their current company on completing.
If you are an employer that doesn't offer staff training because you are concerned about the implications training could have on staff retention - it might be worth speaking to your staff to ascertain their views - some are likely to feel that paying for their own training is more beneficial to their career than no training at all.
How to apply
Once you have spoken to your training provider and found out if they, the course and you are eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan – the training provider will issue you with an offer letter. The information in this letter is needed to apply – so don’t lose it.
Next, you can apply online (have your letter to hand) through the GOV.UK website. You will need to register first.
For more information
Visit the Advanced Learner Loan section of the GOV.UK website