If you are aged 19 years or over and already have a Level 3 (A Level equivalent) qualification, an Advanced Learner Loan is a way to spread the cost of any further studying you want to do. Read on for more details about what they are and how you can apply.
If you are aged 19 years or over and don't have Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) qualifications, there is a whole range of qualifications that you can do for free; please get in touch to find out what's available.
What is an Advanced Learner Loan?
These loans have been created by the UK Government to help people aged 19 or over pay fees for courses at Level 3 and above. (Previously called 24+ Learner Loans, they are extended to include 19+ learners studying from September 2016).
Level 3 (and above) courses include A levels, Access to Higher Education Diplomas and other Certificates. Visit the Advanced Learner Loans qualifications catalogue to find out if your qualification is eligible - or talk to BCoT!
Getting a Loan doesn’t depend on your household income and there’s no credit check. You won’t have to pay anything back until you’re earning over £21,000 a year and repayments can start from as little as £7 per month.
Will I be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan?
They are available to everyone aged 19 and over for study at level 3 to level 6. There is no upper age limit.
To be eligible for a loan you must:
Advanced Learner Loans do not cover degrees or higher education courses (separate Student Loans are available for these) but may cover your Apprenticeship; please talk to BCoT for more details.
How do I apply for one?
You can apply from May each year for courses starting in September of that year.
Before you apply, you will need to have made your application for the course you wish to study; the College can then confirm places are available and provide you with the course information that you will need to make your application.
It’s important to apply in good time before the start of your course as not having your loan confirmed might affect your enrolment on the course. (You cannot apply for a loan after you have completed the course).
Applications should be made to Student Finance England either online at https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-register-login (you will need to create a login) or ask BCoT to provide you with a paper copy of the form.
When applying, you will need to provide the following information (your learning provider will usually supply you with a letter detailing all of this):
What is the maximum loan I can take?
This will be based on the type of qualification you want to do and BCoT can advise what the charge will be. You cannot take out an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for anything other than your course.
How will the loan be paid?
Once your loan has been confirmed, the money will be paid by Student Finance England in instalments directly to the College after you have been on the course for at least two weeks.
What if I change my mind about the course?
If you stop attending your course or withdraw from it, the College will stop receiving payments. However, we will ask you to sign an agreement when you enrol that will confirm what our cancellation and withdrawal policy is and you may still be liable for course costs.
You will only have to repay the loan amount (including any interest) for what has been paid to the College
If you change your mind before the course has started, you can contact Student Finance England to cancel your loan application and you will have nothing to repay.
Can I take out a loan if I already have a similar qualification?
It is likely that, if you have already received a loan to complete a qualification, you will not be able to apply for a loan for a qualification of similar content and similar level. However, please check your eligibility with BCoT as further Government guidance is being issued regularly.
How many loans can I take out?
For non-A Level courses, you can only take out one loan at a time but you can have up to four loans in total.
How do I repay the loan?
When your income reaches £21,000 a year, payments will automatically be deducted from your wages through the tax system.
The amount you pay will depend on your income; you will pay 9% of your income over £21,000. Therefore, if you earn £25,000 per year, you will pay back about £30 per month. This amount is based on your income not on the number of loans you have.
If your income falls below £21,000, your payments will stop until your income increases again. Loans are only calculated against taxable income; pension income is not included. Loans are excluded from bankruptcy debts so you will still be liable to make repayments once your bankruptcy is discharged.
After 30 years, if you have not paid off the full amount of any loan(s), the balance is written off.
Can I pay back a loan early?
You can make voluntary payments at any point after you’ve completed your course; you do not have to wait until your income reaches £21,000. Repayments above the basic rate will help to reduce the amount of interest that your loans accrues.
We recommend that you seek independent, impartial financial advice if you plan to pay back significant amounts early, or if you’re not sure if an Advanced Learner Loan is the right loan for you.
To find out more:
Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more about Advanced Learner Loans.
Use the Student Finance Repayment Calculator to find out how much you would pay back each month based on your annual salary.
Visit the Money Advice Service for impartial money advice.