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advanced learner loan alternatives

12 Advanced Learner Loan Alternatives

There are numerous funding opportunities made available by the UK government for mature adults who want to further their education. Some of these government-backed funding, like the Advanced Learner Loans, are paid directly to the colleges and training providers. In comparison, others are available for those with extra responsibilities outside their studies.

Even though Advanced Learner Loans are not dependent on income, credit score, or upper age limit, there are still strict eligibility requirements. The same goes for other government funds.

So, if you are not eligible for the Advanced Learner Loan, this article will discuss a comprehensive list of different loans and funding available for you to choose from. Read on to learn more about the different Advanced Learner Loan alternatives.

But first, let’s discuss Advanced Learner Loans and how they work, shall we?

What is an Advanced Learner Loan?

Advanced Learner Loans are loans made available by the UK government to adults over 19 who want to take endorsed level 3 to 6 qualifications at approved universities and training organisations. Unlike the Adult Education Budget, these loans need to be paid back once the learner crosses the income threshold – which is currently £27,295. Advanced Learner Loans are also directly paid to the institutions rather than the individual.

The amount of money a learner will get depends on the course type, course fees, and the maximum available loan. This means you can borrow up to the available maximum amount or choose to cover some of the tuition costs yourself. However, not every qualification is approved for Advanced Learner Loan funding, so learners need to be aware of this before applying.

Some of the approved Level 3 to 6 qualifications, which includes vocational qualification, Diplomas, A and AS Levels, and Tech levels, are highlighted below:

  • Adult Care
  • ICT Systems and Principles
  • Professional Cookery
  • Nail Services
  • Work-based Horticulture
  • Leadership and Management
  • Forestry and Arboriculture
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Body and Spa Therapy
  • Business and Professional Administration
  • Land-based Technology
  • ICT Systems Support
  • Bricklaying
  • Furniture Design and Making
  • Primary Care and Health Management
  • Hairdressing
  • ICT Professional Competence
  • Hospitality Management
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Site Carpentry
  • Engineering
  • Domestic Plumbing and Heating
  • Education and Training
  • Jewellery and Silverware Manufacturing
  • Gas Utilisation Installation and Maintenance
  • Equine Management
  • Fabrication and Welding
  • Digital Marketing
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Advanced Vehicle Diagnostics and Management
  • Health and Social Care
  • Stonemasonry
  • Electrical Installation
  • Plastering
  • Barbering
  • Agriculture

You can apply for a maximum of four loans and get more than one at the same time. Besides, your eligibility for an Advanced Learner Loan depends on your age, training provider, nationality, and course of study.

Now that we have discussed the basics of the Advanced Learner Loan let’s look at some alternatives, shall we?

Advanced Learner Loan Alternatives

1. Higher Education Student Loans

Different higher education student loans are made available by the UK government, like Undergraduate Loans, Postgraduate Master’s Loans, and Postgraduate Doctoral loans. Student Finance England pays directly to the institution for the Undergraduate student loans, while the Postgraduate Loans are paid directly to you.

You can get up to £9,000 if you are a full-time undergraduate student, and if you are studying an accelerated degree course, you can get more than £10,000. Part-time undergraduate students can still get a loan if their course has over 25% course intensity – they can get over $6,000 in an academic year.

The eligibility for a higher education student loan depends on your course, age, nationality, university, and if you have studied a higher education course before. Some of the eligible courses for student finance include

  • A first degree, like a BA, BSc, or B.Ed.
  • A Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • An integrated master’s degree
  • A pre-registration postgraduate healthcare course
  • A Foundation Degree
  • A Diploma in Higher Education
  • A Certificate of Higher Education
  • A Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • An Initial Teacher Training course

2. Disabled Students’ Allowance

The Disabled Students’ Allowance is funding available to cover study-related expenses for people with mental health problems, physical illnesses, and other disabilities, for example, dyslexia, anxiety, visual impairment, and cancer. You can get this funding on its own or with other funding opportunities. Unlike other funding types, the DSA depends more on the needs of the individual rather than the household income, and you do not need to pay it back.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students can get over £20,000 a year for support, which helps pay for specialist equipment, non-medical helps, extra travel, and additional disability-related study support. However, this allowance does not cover disability-related expenses unrelated to your studies.

3. Parents’ Learning Allowance

If you are a full-time student with children, you can get a Parents’ Learning Allowance. But the amount you get depends on your household income. You can get between £50 and £1,863 annually, typically paid directly to your bank account in three installments. This allowance is usually paid alongside other student finance funding, and you do not need to pay it back like the Advanced Learner Loan.

To be eligible for this allowance, you must take a full-time undergraduate course or an Initial Teacher Training course with dependent children. You can apply for the Parents’ Learning allowance while applying for student finance.

4. Childcare Grant

This grant helps full-time higher education students with children under 15 years with childcare costs. Like the Parents’ Learning Allowance, it is a supplement grant that does not need to be paid back, but you must be eligible for student finance to apply for this grant.

The amount of money you will get depends on your household income and the number of dependent children you have. The maximum amount you can get is about £183 a week for a child and £315 for two or more children. Besides, this grant is paid directly into a Childcare Grant Payment Service account, and you can only use it to pay your childcare provider.

5. Care to Learn

The Care to Learn scheme is a grant that helps students with childcare costs while they study. To be eligible for this scheme, you must be under the age of 20 at the beginning of your course, live in England, and be the child’s main carer.

You can get about £160 per child weekly if you live outside London and £175 if you live in London. These will help with the cost of childcare, including registration fees and deposits, childcare during summer holidays, and a childcare taster session. Plus, the childcare payments are paid directly to your childcare provider, and travel payments are paid to your school

6. 16 to 19 Bursary Funds

If you are between the ages of 16 to 19, this bursary fund can help you with education-related costs like transport, clothing, books, and others. However, you must study at a publicly funded school or college in England or be on a training course to qualify for these funds.

There are two types of bursaries available; bursaries for students in vulnerable groups and discretionary bursaries. The amount you will get will depend on your course requirements and their costs, including travel, books, and equipment expenses.

7. Adult Education Budget

The Adult Education Budget targets adults over the age of 19 and is used to fund level 3 qualifications and below. Low waged earners above 24 years can also get funding for these qualifications. To be eligible, you must consider the courses and the learning providers.

Some of the approved qualifications funded by the Adult Education Budget include the following:

  • English and mathematics
  • Essential Digital Skills qualifications
  • English for non-native English speakers
  • Traineeship
  • Adult community learning

You can take any of these courses in further education colleges, independent training providers, sixth-form colleges, and universities.

8. Learner Support

This funding is for people aged 19 or over who face financial difficulties while furthering their education. Learner Support will help you pay for things not covered by tuition, like accommodation, learning material, childcare, travel costs, and others. The funding you will get depends greatly on your circumstances and the scheme available in your learning institution.

The money could be in the form of a loan, a grant you don’t need to pay back, or funds paid directly to someone else, like a childcare provider or landlord. To be eligible for Learner Support, you must be 19 or older, studying for a Level 3 qualification or lower, and in financial hardship. On the other hand, you are not eligible if you are already getting student finance for higher education, have taken an Advanced Learner Loan Bursary Fund, or studying a Community Learning course.

9. Maintenance Loan

If you are a full-time student, your household income and where you live while studying will determine how much Maintenance Loan you can get. While for part-time undergraduate students, the course intensity matters. The loan is paid directly into your bank account at the start of every term. Using the student finance calculator, you can calculate how much Maintenance Loan you’ll get and your eligibility for additional grants. However, you may not get the complete estimated amount.

If your course is a long course that lasts over 30 weeks, you can also get extra money in your Maintenance Loan, called a Long Course Loan. You can also get additional help with travel expenses if you study far from home but live in England. Plus, you must pay back the maintenance loan like every type of loan.

To be eligible for a Maintenance Loan, your course has to be one of the following:

  • A first degree
  • An integrated Master’s degree
  • An Initial Teacher Training course
  • A Diploma of Higher Education or Foundation Degree in dental hygiene and dental therapy

10.    Adult Dependants’ Grant

This grant is for full-time students in higher education that have an adult that depends on them financially. The amount of money you can get depends on your income, the adult dependant’s income, personal circumstances, and other grants you receive. But, you can get over £3000 depending on your academic year, and you do not have to pay back the money.

However, this grant is paid directly into your bank account in three instalments and will affect any tax credits or income-related benefits you might get.

To be eligible for this grant, your adult dependant has to be a relative, like a parent or a grandparent, or partner, like a husband or a wife. You are not eligible if the adult dependant is your child, already receiving student finance, or a relative that earns over £3,796 annually. Additionally, if you are getting a Postgraduate Loan, you are not eligible for this grant.

11.    Student Finance for Care Leavers

You can apply for student finance as a care leaver if you’ve been in the care of your local authority for at least 13 weeks after you turn 16. With this funding, your parent’s income will not be considered when calculating how much funding you can get. However, you must prove that your Local Authority looked after you to Student Finance England.

Besides, you can apply for the same funding as other students, but your parents’ income won’t be considered.

12. Finance for Independent Students

If you apply for financing as an independent student, Student Finance England will not consider your parents’ income when calculating how much you can get. You will be classified as independent if you fulfil one of the highlighted conditions:

  • You have no living parents
  • You have a dependant under the age of 18
  • You are married or in a civil partnership before the beginning of the academic year
  • You’ve supported yourself for the last three years before starting your course
  • You are permanently estranged from your parents or haven’t spoken to them for at least one year before the start of the academic year.
  • A family member or friend has fostered you.

Student Finance England may require some proof, depending on your circumstances. However, you cannot apply as estranged because you don’t live with your parents or get on with them.

To Wrap It Up

There are numerous funding opportunities for learners in the UK, and most end up being underspent. All you need to do is find the ones you are eligible for and apply, maki