What is an Advanced Learner Loan?
Advanced learner loans are available for individuals aged 19 or above to undertake approved qualifications at levels 3 to level 6, at an approved provider in England.
- Advanced learner loans give individuals access to financial support for tuition costs similar to that available in higher education and are administered by Student Finance England.
- The availability of loans at level 3 for 19 to 23 year olds does not replace an individual’s legal entitlement for full funding for a first full level 3 qualification.
- Advanced learner loans are paid directly to the college or training organisation on behalf of an individual.
- They are not means tested or subject to credit checks and any individual who meets the criteria will be able to apply for a loan regardless of their current employment status.
Check if you’re eligible before you apply for an Advanced Learner Loan.
Different funding is available if you want to study in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.
Whether you qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan depends on your:
- college or training provider
- nationality or residency status
You must be 19 or older on the first day of your course.
Your course must be:
- a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 qualification, for example A Levels or graduate certificate
- at an approved college or training provider in England
Ask your college or training provider if you do not know if your course is eligible.
What you need to know
You cannot apply until you get a ‘learning and funding information letter’ from your college or training provider.
You can apply for a loan without a National Insurance number but you must have one before the loan can be paid.
What you’ll get
How much you get depends on:
- the type of course
- your course fees
- the maximum loan available for your course
The minimum loan you can get is £300 and is paid directly to your college or training provider.
You do not have to borrow the full cost of your course – you can pay for some of it yourself.
Number of loans you can get
If your course started before 1 August 2016
You can apply for up to 4 loans but you can only get one loan at a time.
You cannot apply for another loan to take the same level of a course, for example the same level qualification in French if you’ve already had a loan for the same level in Italian.
If your course starts on or after 1 August 2016
You can apply for up to 4 loans and you can get more than one at the same time.
You can apply for another loan to take the same level of a course, for example the same level qualification in History if you’ve already had a loan for the same level in Maths.
You can only apply once for an Access to Higher Education course.
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 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 get 3 more loans for non A Level courses either before or after your course of A Levels.
Your nationality or residency status
In most cases, all of the following must apply. You must:
- be living in the UK on the first day of your course
- have been living in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for 3 years before starting your course
- be a UK national or have ‘settled status’ (this means there are no restrictions on how long you can stay)
You may also qualify if you’re:
- a UK national, or someone with settled status, but you live somewhere else in the European Economic Area (EEA)
- an EU national or a family member of one
- not a UK national but you’ve lived in the UK for at least 20 years (or at least half of your life)
- a refugee or a relative of one
- a migrant worker
- the child of a Swiss national
- the child of a Turkish worker
- under humanitarian protection or a relative of someone who has been granted it
- staying in the UK as a stateless person (or their family member) and your course starts on or after 1 August 2018
- a serving member of the UK armed forces (or their spouse, civil partner or a dependent parent or child living with them) doing a distance learning course from outside the UK that started on or after 1 August 2017
How to apply
- Check with your college or training provider that the course qualifies.
- Ask them for a ‘Learning and funding information’ letter – you need this to complete the application. It contains the details about your course.
- Apply online – you’ll need to register first. You can apply by post if you cannot apply online.
- You’ll get a letter confirming your loan – usually within 2 weeks if you apply online (postal applications take longer).
Apply by post
If you cannot apply online, apply by post – the address is on the form.
Proof of identity
If you’re a UK national, include your UK passport details in your application as proof of identity. If you forget, use the ‘UK passport details form’.
If you do not have a UK passport (or it has expired), send your birth or adoption certificate using the ‘Birth or adoption certificate form’.
If you’re from another EU country, send your EU passport or identity card the first time you apply.
Use the ‘Evidence return form’ if you need to send extra information to support your application, such as proof of residency status.
Change an application
Once your application has been approved you can log in to your account to make a change online.
If you just want to change your loan amount you can use the loan request form instead.
When you repay your loan
You’ll have to start repaying your loan when your income is over a certain amount (the ‘threshold’ amount).
The earliest you’ll start repaying is either:
- the April after you leave your course
- the April 4 years after the course started, if you’re studying part-time
You’ll only repay when your income is over £494 a week or £2,143 a month (before tax and other deductions).
You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment.
Loans are written off 30 years after the April you were first due to repay.
There’s no penalty for paying some or all of your loan off early.
If you’ve nearly paid off your loan
The Student Loans Company (SLC) will contact you when you’re close to repaying all of your loan.
If someone with a student loan dies
SLC will cancel the person’s student loan.
You need to let SLC know that the person has died and provide evidence (for example an original death certificate), as well as the person’s Customer Reference Number.
If you can no longer work because of illness or disability
SLC may be able to cancel your loan if you claim certain disability benefits. You’ll need to provide evidence (for example a letter from the benefits agency) and your Customer Reference Number.