Funding your study in England
If you're interested in studying for a Signature qualification in England but aren't sure if you can pay for the course upfront, don't worry! Funding might be available from various places.
The first thing to do is ask your course provider, such as the college or agency. They will be able to help you.
Some types of learners and courses are fully funded by the government. That means your course costs are paid and you don't have to pay anything back.
This might apply if you are
- aged 19-23 and want to study at level 1 to progress to your first full level 2 qualification
- aged 19-23 and want to study your first full level 2 qualification
- aged 19-23 and want to study your first full level 3 qualification
- aged 19-23, already have a level 2 qualification or above, but are unemployed and want to study up to level 2
- aged 24 and over, unemployed and want to progress to or study at level 2
If none of the above apply to you, the government might still pay some of the costs. You wouldn't have to pay any of it back, but you would have to pay the rest of the fees.
This might apply if you are
- aged 19 and over, already have a level 2 or higher qualification, and want to study a level 1 or 2 qualification
- aged 24 and over, employed and want to study a level 1 or 2 qualification
- aged 24 and over, employed, already have a level 2 qualification or above and want to study a level 1 or 2 qualification
There is more information about funding for further education courses on gov.uk, but you should ask your course provider, such as the college or agency.
Advanced Learner Loans
From 2016, if you are 19 years or older you might be able to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to help you pay your course fees. The loans are available for the full cost of a course at levels 3 to 6.
You can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan from May 2016 for courses starting from 1 August 2016.
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.
Once you do earn over £21,000 a year you pay back 9 per cent of the earnings above it. For example, if you were earning £22,000 a year you would pay back 9 per cent of £1,000 - £90 a year.
You need to ask your course provider for a 'Learning and funding information' letter.You can then apply for a loan online. If you are eligible, it should only take a couple of weeks to get the money.
You might also be able to get money from the Loan Bursary Fund if you need help with learning or living costs. That includes accommodation, childcare and course materials. Again, ask your course provider.
Funding your study in Northern Ireland
If you don't already have GCSEs, A levels or equivalent qualifications, you may be able to study for them without having to pay any tuition fees. You'll be able to get free tuition
- for a course which leads to your first full level 2 qualification; or
- if you're 25 or under, for a course which leads to your first full level 3 qualification.
You may get free tuition for a range of courses if you're receiving
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- the 'Guarantee Credit' element of Pension Credit
- Working Tax Credit
You'll also qualify if you're not working and you're financially dependent on someone who gets one of the forms of financial support listed above. In some cases, free tuition is also available to asylum seekers.
You might also be able to receive a bursary to help with living costs. You should check with your course provider.
For more information, visit the NIDirect website.
Funding your study in Scotland
If you are a full time student you will not have to pay fees as long as you meet certain residency conditions. If you are not sure whether you meet these conditions, you should check with your course provider.
You might also be able to receive a bursary to help with living costs, a dependant's allowance and help with childcare costs. What you get will depend on your age, family circumstances and income.
Most students studying part-time and on distance learning courses will have to pay tuition fees. However, if you receive certain benefits, are on a low income or are disabled you may be eligible for free tuition.
For more information on learner funding in Scotland, visit the Scottish Government website.
Funding your study in Wales
You could be charged tuition fees if you are studying full or part time. Most colleges will give you free or discounted tuition if you are on means tested benefits, have a low income or are disabled.
For more information, read the online guide to funding for learners in Wales or contact your local course provider.
You may be entitled to a learning grant, maintenance allowance or professional and career development loan. For more information visit the Student Finance Wales website.