Advanced Learner Loans

Advanced Learner Loans have been introduced to help support students aged 19 or above with the cost of course fees for full Level 3 to 6 courses. Find out below about what the loan covers, who can apply and the benefits they offer.

Who qualifies for the loan?

Advanced Learner Loans are not means-tested and do not require a credit check, but to be eligible for a loan you must be:

  • aged 19 or over on the first day of your course
  • starting your course on, or after, 1 August 2018
  • a UK national or have ‘Settled Status’ which means no restrictions on how long you can stay
  • a resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years immediately before starting your course
  • enrolling on a full Level 3 to Level 6 course

How much can I borrow?

The amount you can get depends on the course you want to take and whether you want to pay for any of the course fee yourself.

There is a minimum loan amount of £300. If you are paying part of, or all of the course fee yourself, Bedford College offers an affordable instalment option to help spread the cost.

What can I use the loan for?

The loan is designed to pay for part of, or the full cost of, the course fee for your full Level 3 to 6 course – the loan cannot be used to pay for individual units or awards.

Qualifications that you can use the loan for include:

  • A-Levels (up to four)
  • Access to Higher Education Diplomas
  • BTEC and other Diplomas and Certificates
  • National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
  • Note: Apprenticeships are no longer supported

What if I don't complete my course?

If you don’t complete your course you will be required to repay the loan amount relative to your attendance as well as any outstanding course fees, which will be payable direct to the College.

How much can I borrow?

The amount you can get depends on the course you want to take and whether you want to pay for any of the tuition fee yourself – you can choose a loan that pays for the full cost of your course or you can choose to pay all or part of the tuition fee yourself. There is a minimum loan amount of £300. If you are paying part of or all of the tuition fee yourself, Bedford College offers an affordable instalment option to help spread the cost – see details on below.

How does the loan work?

The Advanced Learner Loan is similar to existing loans for higher education, and is administered by the Student Loans Company (SLC). Once your loan is approved, they will pay the agreed amount to Bedford College when you start your course. You only need to apply once per course – so if, for example, your course is longer than one year you don’t need to apply separately for each year.

Can I take out more than one loan?

You can apply for up to four loans in total, simultaneously, or one after the other. Use the eligibility tool to find out more.

How much will I have to repay?

Paying back your loan is simple – you’ll only have to start making repayments in the April after you complete your course and only when you’re earning over £25,000 per year, £1,750 per month or £404 per week. Payments are automatically taken from your earnings through HMRC. Repayments will be 9% of anything you earn over the £25,000 threshold. So if, for example, you are earning a salary of £27,000 per year, repayments would be calculated as 9% of £2,000, which equals a £15 repayment per month.

If your salary falls below the earning threshold, repayments will stop. If you have not repaid your loan within 30 years the outstanding debt will be written off.

What about interest charges?

Interest on the loan is linked to inflation and is set at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI).

Whilst you are studying and until the April after you finish your course, the interest rate is Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%.

The interest rate charges after completing the course will be based on your income.
  • If you are earning £25,000 or less per year, the interest rate is at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI).
  • If you are earning £25,000 to £45,000 per year, the interest rate is at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus up to 5%.
  • If you are earning £45,000 or over per year, the interest rate is at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%.
How do I apply for a loan?

You will need your learning and funding letter provided by Bedford College. You can apply for a loan online through Student Finance England. Application forms will be available through the helpline on 0300 100 0619. 

Can I take out a loan if I have been declared bankrupt in the past?

Yes, the loan is not dependent on your credit rating.

Can I take out a loan if I had a higher education loan in the past or I am still paying this off?

Yes, so long as you do not have any arrears. If you have arrears, you will need to pay these off first. If you took a student loan out between 1990-1997 you would not have been paying your loan back via HMRC, therefore you would need to be paying this back and have no arrears.

Can I get help with other course related costs?

In addition to the Advanced Learner Loan there is a means-tested bursary to support students who are on a low income who require support with other costs related to their course (e.g. travel or childcare costs). The bursary does not form part of the loan and is a separate application.

Other ways to pay…

Taking out a loan isn’t the only way to pay for your course – for courses over £100 Bedford College also offers an affordable Direct Debit instalments option to help spread the cost of tuition fees. You will pay an initial non-refundable deposit when you enrol on your course, followed by:
  • A maximum of four further payments for courses lasting under six months OR
  • A maximum of six further payments for courses lasting over six months.

Please note: an extra £20 charge applies if you choose to pay by instalments.

Progressing to higher education from Access?

Your loan could be written off!
If you are interested in taking one of our Access to Higher Education courses and use a Advanced Learner Loan to pay for all or part of your tuition fee, you will have any outstanding debt written off if you go on to complete a higher education qualification.

What happens if I don't start or finish my course?

If you take out a loan and notify the College in writing, prior to the intended start date of your course, all outstanding course fees will be cancelled. However, if you start a course and withdraw before completion you will be liable for the balance of course fees for that academic year.

Advanced Learner Loan Bursary

Our Advanced Loans Bursary is strictly for students aged 19 and over on 31 August 2018, who have lived in the UK/EEA for the past three years and whose total household income is less than £28,000. If you are not in receipt of an Advanced Learner Loan, please visit the Adult Financial Support page. If you are aged 16-18 please visit our 16-18 Bursary page.

Travel Bursary This is a bursary of £350 for students who live within the Bedford Bus Zone and £600 for those who live beyond. This bursary is not available to students who less than three miles from the College campus.
Essential Course Costs Bursary

The support will either be 75% or 50% of your essential course costs such as safety equipment, books or trips. Where the essential course item is provided by Bedford College, for instance, a uniform or a trip, your bursary will be transferred to your department and you will be required to pay the difference. This is not available to students on the second year of a two year course unless essential course costs are specified for the second year.

Residential Bursary Fees for halls of residence can be supported, although they are very limited.  Applications are prioritised by distance from the student’s home and/or availability of transport to Shuttleworth College. We operate a banding system for this bursary for students from very low income households.
Discretionary Hardship Bursary Up to £250 is offered in exceptional circumstances and where students can demonstrate financial barriers to completing their course and achieving their learning aims/goals. This bursary will only be awarded where attendance is 95% and over for eligible students. Subject to the availability of funding, this bursary will be offered in second and third terms.
Meals Bursary This bursary affords eligible students with a free healthy meal up to £3.00 whilst at College on the days they are timetabled to attend, usually four days a week.
Additional Learning We offer up to £250 towards any learning support requirements for students who have indicated a form of learning difficulty or disability. Access to this support will be through the Additional Support Team who can be reached on 01234 291905.
Childcare We offer a maximum of 80% of ESFA funding received.

2018/19 Financial Support Applications

After you've answered the questions in our eligibility checker, if you qualify you will then be able to start your application. You will be required to upload evidence to prove your eligibility so please have this to hand. You will also be able to save your work and come back to complete your application at a later time.

» Launch eligibility checker

Adult Support (including Advanced Learner Loans Bursary) Eligibility Criteria

Students must provide evidence of how they meet the three strands of eligibility for financial support to include age, residency and household income, as well as be studying on a programme that is subject to inspection by a public body such as Ofsted and the course must be funded directly by the ESFA or by the European Social Fund (ESF) – we can establish this fact from our college database.

Bursary applications will be judged in line with AEB funding guidance for 2018/19.

For the Advanced Learner Loans Bursary, students must have already applied for the Advanced Learner Loan. The college will verify this on the Student Loans Company (SLC) portal; bursary applications will be put on hold where we are unable to view a student’s application status on the portal.

Bursary Eligibility 2018-19

All full time and part time students (including those in receipt of an Advanced Learner Loan) studying on an ESFA funded course, including traineeships, at The Bedford College Group and its incorporated sites (Bedford campus, Kempston campus, Shuttleworth College, Tresham campuses and The Bedford Sixth Form) are eligible to apply for support where they meet the following criteria:

  • are aged 19 or over on 31 August 2018 and not on a traineeship
  • have lived within the UK / EEA for 3 years  prior to the start of the course
  • have a household income of less than £28,000
  • are in receipt of a means-tested benefit or tax credits

In addition, the following will be considered for the Adult Support Fund, those who:

  • have learning difficulties or disabilities 
  • are care leavers (previous VLB students)
  • are participating on a Prince’s Trust Team Programme
  • are on probation or supervised by the Youth Offending Service 
  • experience a sudden change in circumstances, such as redundancy

Exceptions

  • Students that have been mandated to training (full-time or part-time) by Jobcentre Plus will have their travel and childcare costs met by Jobcentre Plus (JCP) where required.  
  • Students who do not qualify for the Adult Support Fund may be considered for support via external educational charities (where available and subject to conditions). 
  • International students are not eligible for any financial support.
  • If an asylum seeker is eligible for support, we can only provide support in the form of course-related books, equipment or a travel pass. We are not permitted to give the student financial support in the form of cash. 
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