Any Financial Help for Improving my Skills/ Qualifications

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OverviewPile of Coins

Any possibility of financial support needs to be looked at on an individual basis and the comments below provide a general guideline and are aimed at courses below degree level. There is no automatic right to free study once you are over 19.

Any help is likely to depend on your course of study, existing level of qualification, employment status and your financial circumstances. In a time of limited resources, funding is aimed at those with low levels of qualification and those on low income benefits. 

Low income? Colleges have a Learner Support Fund to help students in financial difficulties. This support is limited and is allocated on an individual basis and may cover exam/ registration fees, travel to college, books & equipment, childcare etc. This will vary according to college policy and available funding. Allocation is generally on a first come first served basis, so it is important to apply early.

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Aged 24+ and studying at Level 3 and above, (e.g. A Levels, Access to Higher Education, Advanced/Higher Apprenticeships)? You can apply for the new Advanced Learning Loan. This is available regardless of income or benefit status and covers tuition fees The 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. They are set at 9% of your income above £21,000. Repayments are through the tax system and won’t begin until 2016. Any balance outstanding is written off after 30 years.

As this is a loan, it is important to consider your own circumstances and explore other options first.   You can get independent financial advice from the Money Advice Service.

Unemployed (and on a work related benefits)?  Specific courses are offered to help you gain the skills to get work e g childcare, computers, health and social care, hospitality and  catering , youth work and management   to name but a few. Location of courses varies and you are not restricted just to your local college but can use providers in other areas

Recently redundant?  Additional support includes the Rapid Response Fund, which is offered on an individual basis through Job Centre Plus and the National Careers Service and aims to supplement your skills /experience with a short formal qualification in order to improve your employability.

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On Benefits?  Important to check about your right to study ……………… even on a work related benefit you may be able to study (free of charge), if the course is under 16 hours per week, in order to improve your employability. You must still be looking for work and prepared to give up the course, if a suitable job comes up.

Leaving the Armed Forces, or a Veteran? Advice and possible  funding from Royal British Legion  and courses4forces 

Trust funds offer small amounts to support  particular client groups to achieve specific aims e.g. disability, single parents, women, living in specific areas etc. Applications have to be made well in advance and, on an individual basis. Information on Trust Funds can be difficult to find.  Main Libraries will hold “The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need” or you could look at the following free websites  and 

And finally………Colleges operate independently so, if possible, it is worth shopping around, comparing costs, terms of payment and criteria for support before you make your choice.  

If you need further help, want to discuss course pr need careers advice, checkout  How we Work  and Contact  Adrienne   at Work & Beyond