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Advanced Learner Loans

English and maths Bedford College students

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.

Important Information

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 2023
  • 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  £27,295 per year. Payments are automatically taken from your earnings through HMRC.



What about interest charges?

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

When you’re at uni or college– while you’re studying, up until the April after you leave your course, the interest charged will normally be RPI plus 3%.

When you’ve left your course– from the April after you’ve left your course, interest will be based on your income, up to a maximum of RPI plus 3%.

If you don’t keep your details up-to-date– you’ll normally be charged RPI plus 3%, whatever your income, until the Student Loans Company has all the information they need.

For more information please visit:

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.

Please be aware when making your loan application online, Student Finance England may suggest a fee amount that is standard to the sector, but not necessarily the amount charged by Bedford College. Please ensure you enter the amount specified in your learning and funding letter provided by Bedford College. If you have any questions regarding charges, please contact Bedford College’s admissions team.

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 an 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.


Our Advanced Loans Bursary is strictly for students aged 19 and over on 31 August 2023, who have lived in the UK/EEA for the past three years and whose total household income is less than £42,500. 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 16-18 Bursary section. If you are starting a course with us from September 2023 onwards, you will not be able to apply for any bursary until after the 1st July 2023. Important eligibility criteria is available at the bottom of the page.

Travel Bursary

This is a means-tested bursary of £550 or £600 per annum. This bursary is not available to students who less than three miles from the College campus.

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 meal’s bursary affords eligible students with a free healthy meal up to £5.00 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.


We offer a maximum of 80% of ESFA funding received.

2023/24 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