Advanced Learner Loans

The Advanced Learner Loan was previously known as the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan. The eligibility criteria has been expanded and they are now available to everyone aged 19 and over, studying courses from Level 3 (A-Level equivalent) up to Level 6. Find out below about what the loan covers, who can apply and the benefits they offer...

Who qualifies for the loan?

The Advanced Learner Loan is not means-tested and does 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
  • A UK national of 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, Level 4, Level 5 or Level 6 course (details below).

What can I use the loan for?

The loan is designed to pay for part of or the full cost of the tuition fee for your full Level 3+ 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

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.

What happens about repayments?

Paying back your loan is simple – you’ll only have to start making repayments after you complete your course and only if you’re earning over £404 per week, £1,750 per month or £21,000 per year. Payments are automatically taken from your earnings through the tax system.

How much will I have to repay?

Repayments will be 9% of your wage above £21,000 per year, £1,750 per month or £404 per week. So if for example you are earning a salary of £25,000 per year, repayments would be calculated as 9% of £4,000, which equals a £30 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. 

You’ll only need to start repaying the loan after you’ve completed your course and you’re earning more than £21,000 per year.

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. 

What about interest charges?

Interest on the loan is linked to inflation and is set at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3% when you are studying your course. 

The interest rate charges after completing the course will be based on your income, charged at RPI for incomes of £21,000 or less, RPI plus an increasing percentage up to 3% for incomes of £21,001 to £41,000, and RPI plus 3% for incomes of £41,001 and above.

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.

Information for learners

Support for individuals requiring additional information or guidance during the application process for Advanced Learner Loans is provided by Student Finance England. This can be accessed by:

  • calling 0845 24 02 024, Monday to Friday, 8.00am-8.00pm and Saturday to Sunday, 9.00am-4.00pm
  • post to – Advanced Learner Loans, PO Box 302, Darlington DL1 9NQ.

Advanced Learner Loan Bursary

Our Advanced Learner Loans Bursary is subject to a household income of less than £30,000 for students aged 19 years and over in receipt of the Advanced Learner Loan; please see below for our eligibility criteria and the categories of the bursaries we offer.

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 16-19 Bursary page.

Travel Bursary

This is bursary of £350 for students who live within Bedford and £450 for those who live beyond. This bursary is not available to students who less than 3 miles from the College campus.

Shuttleworth College Bus The Shuttleworth College Bus Pass can be purchased at a discounted fee dependent on your household income. The travel bursary (£450) will go towards the cost of the Shuttleworth annual bus pass, which costs £895 and  
  • you will be required to pay a discounted fee of £405 if you pay in one instalment or
  • you will be required to pay a discounted fee of £450 if you pay in three termly instalments of £150.00
Where your household income exceeds £30,000 you can purchase a college-subsidised bus pass at £225 per term.

Meals Bursary

This bursary affords eligible students with a free healthy meal up to £2.50 whilst at College on the days they are timetabled to attend, usually 4 days a week. There is also the option to top-up your ID card with additional money to buy additional items – Cauldwell Street campus only.

Course Costs Bursary

You could get up to 90% of essential course costs such as safety equipment, books or trips. If the essential course item is purchased from Bedford College, for instance, a uniform or a trip, the award will be a discount and you will have to pay the difference.

20+ Childcare Bursary

The 20+ Childcare Bursary is very limited and will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis. The bursary is paid to the childcare provider direct and they must be Ofsted registered.

The childcare bursary will be paid in 10 termly instalments starting from October 2017; these payments will be made in arrears once we have confirmation of the student’s loan status* and attendance.

There’s also the 30hrs free childcare or Tax Free childcare for working parents (who earn a minimum of £120 / week) starting in September 2017. More information can be found at Childcare Choices.

You could get weekly payments through Care to Learn if you're under 20 at the start of your course.

* The maximum childcare funding per year will be the equivalent of 80% of the total value of your approved loan funding.

Discretionary Hardship

Up to £100 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 the second and third terms.

Additional Learning Support

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.


Download this document to view a summary of the eligibility criteria and level of support available.

How to apply

Please contact 01234 291000 (Bedford) or 01234 291276 (Shuttleworth) for assistance with your application or complete application form below:

Bursary Application Forms for New Learners (January enrolments only)
Bursary Application Forms for New Learners (2017/18 enrolments)

Note: The bursary application is now only open to continuing students who become vulnerable learners during the course of the academic year and those taking on a course which started after January 2018.

2018/19 applications

2018/19 Bursary guidance and application forms will be available from Friday 1 June 2018.

You will be required to upload evidence to proof eligibility for one of our bursaries. Please have this to hand; you will be able to save your work and come back to complete your application at a later time.

YouTube Instagram LinkedIn Moodle Higher Education Moodle Have Your Say