Aged 19 or over and thinking about further education?
You may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan. These loans help you to pay the fees charged by colleges and training organisations. Most learners aged 19 and over, studying at Level 3 to 6, will qualify for these loans from the UK government. It’s easy to apply, your household income isn’t taken into account and there’s no credit check. You won’t have to pay anything back until your income is over £21,000 a year.
Do I qualify?
To qualify you must be:
- aged 19 or over on the first day of your course
- 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 unless you meet one of the exceptions detailed in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Learners’
- studying with a college or training organisation in England approved for public funding
- enrolling on an eligible course at Level 3 to 6 (Level 3 or 4 only if your course begins before 1 August 2016) which includes A levels, Access to HE Diplomas and other Vocational Qualifications.
From 1 August 2017 if you are not resident in the UK, you may still be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan if you’re:
- a serving member of the UK armed forces;
- the spouse/civil partner of a serving member; or
- a dependent parent living with a serving member
These loans do not cover Degrees or other forms of Higher Education (HE). For information on funding for HE go to gov.uk/student-finance
Applying is easy
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.
If you are 19 to 23 and are studying your first full Level 3 qualification you might be able to get a grant to help pay for your course. You can choose to fund your Level 3 qualification with either a grant or an Advanced Learner Loan, but you choose to fund it with an Advanced Learner Loan, you lose your entitlement to grant funding.
If your Learning Provider does not offer a grant-funded course, you’ll need to find a Learning Provider that does. The National Careers Service will be able to advise you which Learning Providers in your local area offer the course you want to do with grant funding.
How much can I get?
The amount you can get depends on your course, the fees charged by your college or training organisation and maximum amounts set by the government.
The minimum loan amount is £300.
You can take out a loan for the maximum amount to cover your fee or you can pay all or part of the fee yourself.
The fee for your course will be set by your college or training organisation. They’ll confirm the cost and the amount that can be covered by a loan before you enrol.
How’s the loan paid?
Student Finance England will pay your agreed loan to your college or training organisation once they’ve confirmed you’ve registered on your course.
How many loans can I get?
You can have up to a maximum of four Advanced Learner Loans in total.
If you started your course before 1 August 2016, you can only take out one loan at a time for non A Level courses and you can’t get a second loan for a course of the same type and level as the one you’ve already completed.
If you start your course on or after 1 August 2016, you can apply for up to four loans at the same time for courses of any eligible type and level. You should speak to your college or provider to check that the combinations you would like to study will benefit you and lead to progression.
For A Levels you can apply for a loan to fund each course you take towards your A Levels – up to a maximum of 4 A Levels. This means you can have up to 8 loans at once if you’re taking each A Level as 2 separate courses. The courses must be in the same subject to qualify for a full A Level. You can also get up to three loans for non A Level courses.
Access to HE Diplomas
If you’re undertaking an Access to HE Diploma and then go on to complete an HE qualification, the outstanding balance of your Advanced Learner Loan will be written off.
- You can only get one Advanced Learner Loan to fund an Access to HE course.
- To qualify for this write off you must have fully completed both courses.
- You don’t need to take out a loan for the HE course.
- The HE course doesn’t need to relate to the Access to HE course you complete.
- The HE course must be eligible for funding by Student Finance England.
Repaying your Advanced Learner Loan is straightforward
- your monthly repayments will be based on your income, not what you borrowed
- you’ll only start making repayments when your income is more than £404 per week, £1,750 per month or £21,000 per year
- you’ll only pay back 9% of any income above £21,000 a year, see the table below for examples of what you’ll repay:
|Income each year before tax||Monthly salary||Monthly repayment|
|Up to £21,000||£1,750||£0|
So, if you’re paid monthly and earn £2,500 before tax you would repay 9% of the difference between what you earn and what the individual threshold is: £2,500 – £1,750 = £750 9% of £750 = £67.50
Your loan repayment would be £67 in that month. If your income drops or rises, for example if you receive a bonus, your repayment amount will automatically change to reflect this.
You can make voluntary repayments at any time to pay off your loan more quickly.
- If you’re self-employed you’ll be responsible for making loan repayments as part of your annual self-assessment tax return
- If you’re employed, you don’t need to do anything. Your employer will take your repayments directly off your salary as they do with tax and national insurance contributions
- If your income falls below £21,000 a year, your repayments will stop and will only restart once your income is more than £21,000 a year again
- You’ll be due to start repaying your loan in the April after you leave or finish your course – whichever comes first. You can make voluntary repayments at any time.
- Any loan remaining 30 years after you’re due to start making repayments will be written off.
Some of the interest on your loan will be based on inflation (Retail Price Index (RPI)).The table below shows how interest is calculated:
|While you’re studying and until the April after you finish or leave your course||Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%|
|From the April after you finish or leave your course||Interest will be based on your income.