Advanced Learner Loans

Advanced Learner Loans have been introduced to help support students aged 19 or above with the cost of course fees for full Level 3 to 6 courses. Find out below about what the loan covers, who can apply and the benefits they offer. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is subject to available funding allocation for 2020/21 academic year. 

Who qualifies for the loan?

Advanced Learner Loans are not means-tested and do 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 2020
  • a UK national or 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 to Level 6 course

What can I use the loan for?

The loan is designed to pay for part of, or the full cost of, the course fee for your full Level 3 to 6 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

What if I don't complete my course?

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.

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.

How much will I have to repay?

Paying back your loan is simple – you’ll only have to start making repayments in the April after you complete your course and only when you’re earning over £25,575 per year. Payments are automatically taken from your earnings through HMRC. Repayments will be 9% of anything you earn over the £25,725 threshold. So if, for example, you are earning a salary of £27,000 per year, repayments would be calculated as 9% of £1275, which equals a £9 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.

What about interest charges?

Interest on the loan is linked to inflation and is set at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI).

Whilst you are studying and until the April after you finish your course, the interest rate is Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%.

The interest rate charges after completing the course will be based on your income.
  • If you are earning £25,725 or less per year, the interest rate is at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI).
  • If you are earning £25,725 to £45,000 per year, the interest rate is at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus up to 5%.
  • If you are earning £45,000 or over per year, the interest rate is at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%.
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 installments.

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?

For courses starting August 2020 or later, if you take out a loan and notify the College in writing, prior to the intended start date of your course, or within 14 days of teaching commencing, all outstanding course fees will be cancelled*. However, if you start a course and withdraw more than 14 days after teaching has commenced you will be liable for the balance of course fees for that academic year. Please refer to our fee policy for further details.

*subject to an administration fee.

Please find a short video here explaining more about the Advanced Learner Loans from Student Finance England​

Advanced Learner Loan Bursary

Our Advanced Loans Bursary is strictly for students aged 19 and over on 31 August 2020, who have lived in the UK/EEA for the past three years and whose total household income is less than £30,000. 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.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are starting a course with us from September 2020 onwards, you will not be able to apply for any bursary until after the 1st July 2020. 

Important eligibility criteria is available at the bottom of the page.

Travel Bursary This is a means-tested bursary of £360 or £600 depending on where you live to help with the costs of travelling to college. It is only available if you do not receive subsidised travel through your local authority; you live more than three miles from the campus and have a household income of less than £30,000.
Essential Course Costs Bursary

The support will either be 75% or 50% of your essential course costs such as safety equipment, books or trips. Where the essential course item is provided by Bedford College, for instance, a uniform or a trip, your bursary will be transferred to your department and you will be required to pay the difference. This is not available to students on the second year of a two year course unless essential course costs are specified for the second year.

Residential Bursary Fees for halls of residence can be supported, although they are very limited.  Applications are prioritised by distance from the student’s home and/or availability of transport to Shuttleworth College. We operate a banding system for this bursary for students from very low income households.
Meals Bursary The meals bursary affords eligible students with a free healthy meal up to £3.00 whilst at College on the days they are timetabled to attend.
Funds are loaded on student ID cards, daily and this can be used towards the cost of purchases at tills in the college refectories.
There is also the option to top-up your ID card with additional money to buy additional items – available at Cauldwell and Shuttleworth campuses.
Funds not taken up on the day will not be carried over, students must use it on the day or lose it.
Additional Learning 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.
Childcare We offer a maximum of 80% of ESFA funding received.

2020/21 Financial Support Applications

After you've answered the questions in our eligibility checker, if you qualify you will then be able to start your application. You will be required to upload evidence to prove your eligibility so please have this to hand. You will also be able to save your work and come back to complete your application at a later time.

» Launch eligibility checker

» View Adult Support (including Advanced Learner Loans Bursary) Eligibility Criteria

List of Eligible Programme Types 2020/21

Your course must be either:

  • funded directly by ESFA or by ESFA via a local authority
  • funded or co-financed by the European Social Fund
  • otherwise publicly funded and lead to a qualification (up to and including Level 3)
  • accredited by Ofqual or is pursuant to Section 96 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000

Students must provide evidence of how they meet the three strands of eligibility for financial support to include age, residency and household income, as well as be studying on a programme that is subject to inspection by a public body such as Ofsted and the course must be funded directly by the ESFA or by the European Social Fund (ESF) – we can establish this fact from our college database.

Bursary applications will be judged in line with AEB funding guidance for 2020/21.

For the Advanced Learner Loans Bursary, students must have already applied for the Advanced Learner Loan. The college will verify this on the Student Loans Company (SLC) portal; bursary applications will be put on hold where we are unable to view a student’s application status on the portal.

Bursary Eligibility 2020-21

All full time and part time students (including those in receipt of an Advanced Learner Loan) studying on an ESFA funded course, including traineeships, at The Bedford College Group and its incorporated sites (Bedford campus, Kempston campus, Shuttleworth College, Tresham campuses and The Bedford Sixth Form) are eligible to apply for support where they meet the following criteria:

  • are aged 19 or over on 31 August 2020 and not on a traineeship
  • have lived within the UK / EEA for 3 years  prior to the start of the course
  • have a household income of less than £30,000  are in receipt of a means-tested benefit or tax credits

In addition, the following will be considered for the Adult Support Fund, those who:

  • have learning difficulties or disabilities 
  • are care leavers (previous VLB students)
  • are participating on a Prince’s Trust Team Programme
  • are on probation or supervised by the Youth Offending Service 
  • experience a sudden change in circumstances, such as redundancy

The following categories are not eligible for adult bursaries:

  • Students eligible for 16-19 bursary support, see 16-19 bursary policy for further details
  • Students who meet the criteria for the Academic Excellence Bursary (AEB) at the Bedford[CE1]  Sixth Form
  • Students participating through partnership arrangements
  • Students on apprenticeship programmes, or any waged training
  • Students on higher education programmes
  • International students are not eligible for any financial support


  • Students that have been mandated to training (full-time or part-time) by Jobcentre Plus will have their travel and childcare costs met by Jobcentre Plus (JCP) where required.  
  • Students who do not qualify for the Adult Support Fund may be considered for support via external educational charities (where available and subject to conditions). 
  • If an asylum seeker is eligible for support, we can only provide support in the form of course-related books, equipment or a travel pass. We are not permitted to give the student financial support in the form of cash. 

» View Adult Support Fund and Advanced Learner Loans Bursary Policy

YouTube Instagram LinkedIn Moodle Higher Education Moodle Have Your Say