Student loans for adults in further education and training
We’ve all heard about student loans in higher education. Now they are available for some adult learners in further education and training in England.
- What are 24+ Advanced Learning Loans?
- What about the repayments?
- Before committing, assess your broader financial situation
- Where to find more advice and support as an adult learner
What are 24+ Advanced Learning Loans?
They are an option for people aged 24 and over to fund their fees upfront for Level 3 and Level 4 courses in approved colleges and training providers in England.
However, if you are aged 19-23, you will be interested to know that 24+ Advanced Learning Loans are due to be replaced by Advanced Learner Loans for courses starting from 1 August 2016.
Advanced Learner Loans will be available to those aged 19 and over, studying courses from Level 3 (A-level equivalent) up to Level 6. Applications can be made from May 2016 for Advanced Learner Loans.
If you are under 24 or wish to gain a more basic qualification
Until Advanced Learner Loans are available, those under the age of 24 are not eligible for a 24+ Adult Learning Loan. But if you are under 24 or are seeking your first basic skills qualification, you may be able get government funding for your course.
Combining study loans
You can take out a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan and then a student loan for higher education. Your loans will be rolled into one and only one monthly repayment will be made. If you progress to higher education after taking out a loan for an Access to HE diploma course, your 24+ Advanced Learning Loan balance will be written off, on completion of your HE course.
What about the repayments?
24+ Advanced Learning Loans are no different from any other form of borrowing – you have to meet the repayment conditions.
Monthly repayments through the Student Loans Company will be a fixed proportion of your income, which start once you are earning over £21,000. Any balance outstanding is written off after 30 years.
Repayments through the tax system won’t begin until 2016, but you have the right to make payments or to pay back your loan in full at any time before then without incurring penalties.
You will need to contact the Student Loans Company to arrange repayment before 2016.
Example of repayment amounts from 2016
Monthly repayments are based on how much you earn, not how much you borrowed. They are set at 9% of your income above £21,000.
|Annual income before tax||Monthly salary||Monthly repayment|
|Up to £21,000||£1,750||£0|
Interest on your repayments
Like student loans for higher education, and any other loan, your 24+ Advanced Learning Loans will be subject to interest charges. These are linked to inflation and offer low real rates of interest.
Interest will be charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) + 3% during the period of study, and up until the April after a learner leaves their course. From this point, interest is linked to earnings and will be:
- RPI for those earning less than £21,000 a year
- on a sliding scale between RPI and RPI + 3% for earnings between £21,000 and £41,000 a year
- RPI + 3% for individuals earning more than £41,000
Before committing, assess your broader financial situation
Returning to learning to improve your skills and prospects can happen at any point during adulthood. Before you sign up, you should always consider the impact this might have on how you manage your money. This is especially the case as no credit check will be done and your household income won’t be taken into account when you apply for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan.
Before committing, always assess your borrowing needs, including any debts you already have. Ask yourself in particular if you need to borrow in the first place to fund your course. If you do, think about what your repayment plan is going to be, once you’re earning over £21,000, in the context of any other credit cards bills or loans you might have to pay back.
Budgeting as an adult learner
If you decide to return to learning, you should seek ways to make your money go further while you complete your course or apprenticeship.
Use our Quick cash finder to help you.
Where to find more advice and support as an adult learner
Speak directly to your approved college or training provider in England about 24+ Advanced Learning Loans. It is also worth checking with them if there are any non-repayable bursaries and grants available to help with additional costs related to learning, such as travel expenses and childcare.
More broadly, you can find advice and guidance on your career from:
- National Careers Service about returning to learning as an adult.
- Careers Wales
- Skills Development Scotland
- Careers Northern Ireland