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I’m a student aged 19 years old or older – what further education funding can I get in England?

By David Malcolm

Friday 12 April 2013 Further education

If you live in England and you’re 19 years old or older when you start a course of further education, you can get funding from the government in England. Here’s an overview with links to more information.

This topic contains the following:

Can I get further education funding in England?

If you normally live in England, and you and your course are eligible, you may be able to get funding from the government to take a course of further education. For more details, see Can I get further education funding in the UK?

If you’re eligible for funding in England and you’re 19 years old or older, the following information is for you. If you want to study in Wales or Scotland, check with your learning provider what support is available.

Do I need to pay tuition fees?

Whether you need to pay tuition fees or not depends on the course you want to take and your age.

You don’t need to pay tuition fees for a basic literacy or numeracy course, no matter what your age. Also, you don’t need to pay for the following, depending on how old you are:

  • training that leads to your first Level 2 qualification (the equivalent of five GCSEs at grades A* to C – though you can’t take GCSEs for free), if you’re under 24 years old at the start of your course
  • your first full Level 3 qualification (the equivalent of two A Level passes), if you’re under 25 years old at the start of your course.

If you can’t get free tuition because of your age or the course you want to take, some colleges and providers may not charge you tuition fees in some circumstances (eg if you get some government benefits like Jobseekers’ Allowance, or you’re taking a basic Skills for Life course).

Speak to your learning provider (eg your school or college) to find out if you need to pay fees.

Can I get government help to pay for tuition fees?

If you’re 24 years old or older and need to pay tuition fees for your course, you may be able to get a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan from the government to help you. The following figures are for 2013/2014.

The amount you can borrow depends on the type of course you take and how much the fees are. It doesn’t depend on your household income, and there’s no credit check. You don’t have to borrow the full cost of your course if you don’t want to. The minimum loan you can get is £300.

The money is paid directly to your college or training organisation once they confirm that you’ve attended the course for two weeks.

To get a loan you must be:

  • 24 years old or older at the start of your course (there’s no upper age limit)
  • taking a course at Level 3 or 4 (such as A Levels or a higher or advanced apprenticeship) that starts on or after 1 August 2013

You don’t need to start repaying the loan and its interest until you’re earning over £21,000 a year. If you get a loan to cover tuition fees for an Access to HE course (eg a course that prepares you for higher education such as university) and then complete a higher education course afterwards, you don’t have to repay the remaining loan for the access course.

You can apply for the loan online from April 2013 onwards. Ask your learning provider for more information. Here’s the government’s information about 24+ Advanced Learning Loans, including details of the rates of interest you pay, and how you make your repayments.

What other government support is available?

As well as the support outlined above, other further education funding is available, depending on your circumstances. Find out more here:

What if I’m in financial difficulty?

If you’re taking a further education course funded by the Skills Funding Agency and facing financial hardship, you could get Discretionary Learner Support. For more information, see I’m a student in further education – where can I get help if I’m in financial difficulty?

Can I get help to study for a City & Guilds qualification?

If you’re studying for a City & Guilds qualification or a National Proficiency Tests Council course, you may be able to get a bursary (a grant of money that you don’t need to pay back) to help with your living costs. See Can I get funding to study for a City & Guilds qualification?

Can I get funding to study while I work?

If you want to undertake a course of vocational training and work at the same time, you might consider doing an apprenticeship. Alternatively, some employers and other organisations may sponsor you to take a course of further education. For more information, see Can I get funding to study for further education while I work?

Where can I find more information?

Here are some links to more information:

This information was updated in March 2013. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.