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Five ways to make studying affordable

Think you can’t afford a course? Think again. 

If you’re looking to start studying but aren’t sure you can cover the cost of a course – don’t panic. With a number of options available – whether it’s making the price of a course more manageable, or getting help with the costs that come with studying – getting financial aid might be easier than you think. 

To ensure you’re aware of what’s available and to help you decide what route is right for you, here are some of the main ways you can fund your studying: 

 

Advanced Learner Loan 

What is it? An Advanced Learner loan helps with the cost of a course taken with a college or training provider. 

Am I eligible? You won’t need to carry out a credit check and loan eligibility is not based on your income. However, you will need to be over 19, a UK national/resident, and studying a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 qualification at an approved training provider in the UK.

How much can I get? The minimum amount you can borrow is £300, which is paid directly to your college or learning provider. Once you’ve been approved for an advanced learner loan, you may also be eligible to claim from the Loan Bursary Fund. This is designed to pay for things related to your course, like travel, accommodation, and childcare, and the amount you’ll get will depend on the provider’s scheme and your individual circumstances.  

Will I have to pay it back? You will be required to pay back the Advanced Learner Loan. No repayment is needed on the Bursary (apart from in some circumstances). 

Adult learning grants: What you need to know

 

Learner Support 

What is it? Learner Support helps learners who are experiencing financial difficulties pay for the costs involved with their further education course – such as accommodation, travel, course materials, and childcare. 

Am I eligible? You’ll have to be 19 or over, and studying at a learning provider that’s funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency to be eligible for Learner Support. It can be claimed in conjunction with other types of funding, but you won’t be able to claim if you’re getting student finance for higher education. 

How much can I get? Your learning provider decides how much you get, based on their scheme and your circumstances. They’ll also decide how the money is paid, whether it’s directly to you, as a loan, or to someone else (e.g. a landlord). 

Will I have to pay it back? This depends on the learning provider and your circumstances. If they decide to give you a loan, it will need to be paid back – but they could also choose to give you a non repayable amount. 

 

16-19 Bursary Fund

What is it? The 16-19 Bursary provides financial aid to learners aged 16-19 in full-time education. It’s offered as a vulnerable student bursary or a discretionary bursary – depending on your circumstances. There are also adult bursaries available. 

Am I eligible? You’ll need to be aged 16-19 and studying at a state school or college in England, or be on an unpaid training course to apply for the 16-19 Bursary. If you’re in a vulnerable group (i.e. you’re claiming benefits, you’re disabled, you’re in (or have recently left) care) you’ll be eligible to claim the vulnerable student bursary. Students outside of this will need to apply for a discretionary bursary, which is dependent on your circumstances; including your family income and more. 

How much can I get? Up to £1,200 – depending on your situation. Your learning provider will decide how this is paid, whether it’s in the form of a cheque/bank transfer to you, or via free meals, travel passes, or books for your course. 

Will I have to pay it back? No. 

 

Pay By Instalments 

What is it? Pay by instalments is a flexible payment option offered by selected learning providers and marketplaces (including reed.co.uk). It allows students to spread the cost of their purchase over a number of months, making payments smaller and easier to manage.

Am I eligible? Your eligibility will depend on where you purchase the course, but you may need to carry out a credit check or fill out an application to qualify. On reed.co.uk, you can use the pay by instalments option when you purchase a basket of courses over £50, with the application taking just 60 seconds to complete. 

How much can I get? This is dependent on the finance option you use. With DivideBuy on reed.co.uk, there’s no upwards limit – so you can split the cost of as many courses as you want across monthly instalments for up to 12 months.  

Will I have to pay it back? Yes, but gradually, over a number of months/years – depending on the finance option you choose. Interest-free options are also available.  

 

Student Loans & Grants 

What is it? Student Loans are designed to help students pay for their university or college tuition fees (via a tuition fee loan) as well as fund their cost of living (via a maintenance loan). Grants are additionally available to vulnerable students or those from low income families. 

Am I eligible? Whether you’re eligible to apply for Student Finance depends on a variety of factors, including your university/college, your course, your age, your nationality/residency status, and whether you’ve studied before. To read the full list of requirements and to check if you qualify, visit gov.uk.  

How much can I get? A tuition fee loan covers the cost of your course, specified by your college or university – which can be up to £9,000 a year. These are paid directly to your college or university. The size of your maintenance loan is based on factors such as; your family circumstances, current location and chosen location of study. You can also check if you’re eligible for extra help (such as grants) using the student finance calculator

Will I have to pay it back? Tuition and maintenance loans will need to be paid back – but only after you’re earning over £21,000 a year. Student loan repayments are fixed at 9% of everything you earn above the £21,000 threshold. Grants will not need to be paid back. 

View all higher education courses

Student loan repayments: What you need to know

Postgraduate student loans

 

Other ways to fund your studies 

Not sure any of the above will work for you? There’s more.

Not only are there a range of lesser known funding options available (such as the Family Action’s Educational Grants Programme, Care to Learn, local council grants, and more) – you could also be eligible for a scholarship, depending on your area of study, your grades, and your location. To see what’s available visit the Scholarship Hub.

What’s more – you could study for less by utilising sales (i.e. discounted courses), where higher priced courses are temporarily reduced. There are also a variety of free courses you can take – in everything from admin to health and care. 

Or, if you’re looking to study part-time and/or from home – you’ll be able to earn money by working alongside your course, whether it’s through temp work, a part-time job or even at a work placement or internship.  

How to fit work around studying

 

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