Fees and Loans - Buckinghamshire Adult Learning

Fees and Loans

Fees & Loans

If you are unable to access or complete your learning programme because of financial considerations, we may be able to offer financial help towards tuition fees. For accredited courses, we might also be able to help with exam fees and other associated costs, such as travel, childcare, annual registration fee and materials.

Support for individuals requiring additional information or guidance during the application process is provided by Student Finance England. This can be accessed by calling 0300100 0607. More information is also available at: • nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk   • Advance learning loans.pdf • www.gov.uk/advanced-learning-loans/overview

Can I get help with my course costs?

If you have genuine financial difficulties that would prevent you from enrolling, you need to complete a Discretionary Learner Support Fund form. This form is available from any Adult Learning Centre or by phoning 01296 382403. Once submitted, we will review the information and let you know if we are able to provide some financial support. Please note, even if you pay reduced fees, additional costs such as registration fees, and/or materials may still be payable.

If you are aged 16-19 you may be entitled to a Bursary Discretionary Fund, see details below.

Certain courses are free of charge if you meet certain eligibility requirements. However, if you have not completed a paper enrolment form, we need you to sign a form to confirm this. Our accredited course codes end in the letter ‘F’.

We need to be sure that our funds are used to support those who need financial help, but we also want to keep the process as simple as possible. Where the financial help you need does not exceed £250, we only require proof of benefit and a signed statement. Where greater support is needed, we will need to collect additional information and evidence of household income. To be eligible, learners must at the time of enrolment have been a resident in the UK or EU for the past three years, or they must be ordinarily resident and be a partner of someone who meets these rules.
For students aged 16 – 18 in full-time education, their area of study must be different to that of their full-time course. They also need to have signed authorisation from their school or college in confirmation and to signify approval.
Please note: details are subject to change in response to Government guidance. Non-UK or EU learners will be charged £10.90 per hour overseas rate.

16-19 Bursary Discretionary Fund

We are pleased to be able to offer a Bursary Discretionary Fund for learners aged 16-19 (or 19 to 24 with EHCP) with funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund available to support 16 to 19 year olds who are financially disadvantaged and need support to overcome specific financial barriers to participation so they can remain in education.

To qualify for the 16-19 bursary learners must meet the eligibility criteria set out below for each type of bursary funding and as well as having an actual financial need (that is, their financial needs have not already been met and/or they have relevant costs).

There are two types of 16 to 19 bursaries:

  • Bursaries for defined vulnerable groups of up to £1,200 a year to students on a study programme of 30 weeks or more (pro-rata for study programme of less than 30 weeks)
  • Discretionary bursaries which institutions award to meet individual needs, for example, help with the cost of transport, meals, books, equipment and other course-related costs.

What is a vulnerable group?

The defined vulnerable groups are learners who are:

  • in care
  • care leavers
  • receiving Income Support, or Universal Credit because they are financially supporting themselves and / or someone who is dependent on them and living with them such as a child or partner
  • receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments in their own right as well as Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit in their own right.

Evidence of eligibility for vulnerable group bursary

Learners must provide evidence of eligibility to the vulnerable group bursary

  • For learners who are in care or a care leaver, written confirmation letter of their current or previous looked after status from the relevant local authority
  • For learners in receipt of Income Support or Universal Credit, a copy of their Income Support or Universal Credit award notice.
  • For learners receiving Universal Credit / Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, a copy of their claim from DWP.

Who is eligible for discretionary bursary?

  • Learners must be at least 16 but under 19 at 31 August of the application year to be eligible for help from bursary fund. Learners aged 19 or over are only eligible to receive a discretionary bursary if they are continuing on a study programme they began aged 16-18 (19+ continuers) or have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
  • Learners who are economically and/or socially disadvantaged and at risk of not taking up or continuing in their education. This group includes learners with physical or other disabilities, medical conditions and/or learning difficulties
  • Learners must be participating in provision that is publicly funded, or be an unpaid training course
  • Learners must meet the residency criteria for post-16 provision
  • Good attendance and attitude to learning must be maintained.

Who is not eligible for discretionary bursary?

  • Learners aged 19 or over are not eligible for discretionary bursary
  • Learners aged under 19 enrolled on higher education qualification are not eligible for support
  • Learners on apprenticeship programmes, or any waged training are not eligible for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.
  • Learners who do not meet the residency criteria.

Evidence of eligibility for discretionary bursary

  • Evidence of assessment of financial needs such as evidence used to determine household income i.e. P60s, self-employments accounts, wage slips, a letter from DWP, copies of online statement of Universal Credit
  • A copy of the learner’s individual assessment of actual financial needs
  • Receipts of purchases made, for example, bus pass, lunch receipts or book receipts.

How will Buckinghamshire Adult Learning assess applications and allocate the 16-19 Bursary Fund

The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is a limited fund and Buckinghamshire Adult Learning will prioritise allocation. There will be three priority groups, categorised as high, medium and low. although a learner may qualify for a bursary all applicant must understand that there is a possibility of no award or a limited award dependent on funds available. Learners who are eligible for any level of funding should complete an application form and send it to Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, Gallery Suite, County Hall, Aylesbury, HP20 1UU.

All decisions on which students receive discretionary bursary and how much is received is based on each student’s individual circumstances and their actual financial needs. Decisions on how much is awarded are based on household income, cost of travel and the requirements of their study programme. The following criterion is used to gauge how much is given to students in order to support their individual need and case:

  • High Priority group: now defined as the vulnerable group (see above) – can be awarded up to a maximum of £1,200 per annum
  • Medium priority group: can be awarded up to a maximum of £800 per annum
    • Living in a household with gross annual income of less than £20,000 a year
    • Living in a household where the parent / guardian are in receipt of Universal Credit
  • Low priority group: can be awarded up to a maximum of £400 per annum
    • Living in a household with gross annual income of less than £25,000 a year
    • Living in a household where the parent / guardian are in receipt of Universal Credit

Payments

Bursary payments are made on a termly basis (i.e. three times a year) in equal instalments of the awarded amount except in the instance where the claim is the receipts of the purchase of meals, bus pass/travel tickets, books or equipment and/or any other approved programme related expenditures in which case the claim will be processed within four weeks. If programme attendance drops below 85%, future bursary payments will be reviewed and most likely to cease.

16-19 Bursary Discretionary Fund Application Form

What does a course code ending in 'F' mean?

The course is FREE if:
• you are aged 16-18 OR
• you are aged 19-23 and do not have 5 GCSEs at A*-C (or equivalent) OR
• you are aged 19-23 and do not have 2 AS/A Levels OR
• you are studying English or maths and do not have a GCSE A*-C (or equivalent) in the subject OR
• you are in receipt of a low wage (less than £16,009.50 per year)
• it is Level 2 or below and is directly relevant to your employment prospects and the needs of the local labour market, plus:
• you are your partner are in receipt of a means tested benefit (please refer to List 1) and you want to enter employment OR
• you want to enter employment and are a dependent of someone in receipt of a means tested benefit (please refer to List 1)

List 1
• Job Seeker’s allowance
• Employment and Support allowance (Work Related Activity Group)
• Universal Credit
• Income Support Housing Benefit
• Council Tax Benefit (not single occupancy)

What does course code ending in 'A' mean?

Course code ends in ‘A’

We offer a concession of 50% of the tuition fees of our courses if:

  • you are in receipt of Universal Credit or other means tested state benefit and your total household income is less than £25,000
    OR
  • you are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Personal Independent Payment (PIP) and your household income not including these payments is less than £25,000

This is funded at our discretion, limited by availability. If you have genuine financial difficulties that would prevent you from enrolling, you need to complete a
Discretionary Learner Support Fund form. This form is available from any Adult Learning Centre or by phoning 01296 382403. Once submitted, we will review the information and let you know if we are able to provide some financial support. Please note, even if you pay reduced fees, additional costs such as registration fees, and/or materials may still be payable.

Can I get further advice?

Our staff are trained to give information and advice on fees. If you would like further assistance, please phone 01296 382403 or email studentenquiries@buckscc.gov.uk

Are there registration and exam board fees?

An annual £10 registration fee applies upon enrolment.  The registration fee is not applicable for one-day workshops’

Exam board fees are included in the course fee except where indicated.

Are fees affected by the size of the group?

Fees for courses are based on a minimum enrolment of nine learners. If the class does not reach its minimum number we may close the course or offer you the opportunity to reduce the number of weeks with no corresponding reduction is fees or we may increase the fee to the small group rate of £8.05 per hour.

I am an overseas learner...

Please note that learners who have not been living in the UK or EU residents who have not been living in the EEA for at least the last three years will need to pay the Overseas Student Rate for any course which is £10.90 per hour.

Does my age affect what I pay?

The minimum age to join a course is 16 years for accredited courses. 16-18 year olds in full-time education may need signed authorisation from their school or college when they join a Buckinghamshire Adult Learning course. Most qualification courses, i.e. those ending in an ‘F’, will be provided free of charge provided the course is not a GCSE resit programme or connected with any full-time programme that they are on at school. Full fees need to be paid for any non-qualifying course.

Payment by Direct Debit

To help spread the cost of your learning, we offer a direct debit option for course fees over £150. Where the course is more than 25 weeks, a 34% deposit is due, followed by two equal direct debit payments due on 15 November and 15 February. In all other cases, a 25% deposit is payable followed by three consecutive month direct debit payments.

A Direct Debit mandate must be returned within ten working days, or the full fees become immediately payable. We will phone you to obtain a debit or credit payment. If you would like to discuss the direct debit option in more detail, please phone 01296 382403.

Can I get help with childcare costs?

If you are claiming a full concession for a qualification course, you may be entitled to apply for help with childcare costs, for the time you are attending your course/s. This help is available for those aged 20 and over.

Can I get help with travel and material costs?

If you are claiming a full concession for a priority qualification course, you may also be able to claim back the cost of getting to your course and for the cost of essential books and course materials.

Course fees do not include materials or book costs, except where otherwise stated. It is inadvisable to buy materials for your course until you are certain it is running and until your request for financial assistance has been approved. For further details, contact our Adult Learning Enrolment team on 01296 383582.

** the amount we have available to fund discounts and provide financial assistance towards other costs is limited. Applications may not be successful if funds have already been committed. Once support has been offered, however, this will apply for the whole of the course. In order to support as many students as possible, we may limit the amount provided to an individual learner.

Course Loans

Do you want to do a Level 3 or higher course?

Will you be aged 19 – 23 and already have a first, full Level 3 OR you are aged 24+?

Then you can apply for a loan to cover the cost of your course

From 1 August 2013, the Education and Skills Funding Agency will no longer fund us directly for anyone aged 24 or over undertaking a Level 3 (or higher) qualification, unless this is an Apprenticeship programme. Instead you can apply for a loan from the Student Loans Company. This loan is referred to as a ‘Learning Loan’. The loan is not means-tested and anyone can apply. However, the minimum loan that can be taken out is £300. This loan starts to be repayable once earned income exceeds £21,000 per annum and any balance that has not been repaid is written off after 30 years.

What courses/qualifications are covered?

The Level 3 qualifications that we offer include the following:

  • Certificate & Diploma in Accounting (AAT) – Level 3
  • CACHE – Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools – Level 3

What will the qualification cost me?

For every qualification, there will be a specified maximum amount of loan that can be applied for. In all cases, we have set our fees at this amount so that the full tuition fees may be funded through a loan. You do not have to take out the full amount of the loan. You can pay all or some of the fees directly. The loan does not cover materials and other costs relating to your qualification.

What information do I need to apply for a loan?

Once you have chosen the course that interests you and you decide to enrol please contact us and we will send you a Learning and Funding Information Letter. This will contain all the essential information you will need to complete an application, should you decide to apply for a loan from the Student Loan Company. The Student Loan Company will notify you if your application has been successful. It is your responsibility to ensure the loan is available to cover the cost of your course. If the loan application is not approved you will be personally liable for the fees.

How much will I need to repay?

Your monthly repayments will be based on your income. You will only start making repayments when your income is more than £404 per week, £1,750 per month or £21,000 per year. The amount of the repayment will be 9% of your income above these amounts.

What happens if I stop working?

If you stop working, so that your income drops below £21,000, (£1,750 per month or £404 per week), your loan repayments will be suspended.

How much interest will I pay?

While you are studying, the interest rate is Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%. After April 2016, the interest is based on your income:

  • £21,000 or less – RPI
  • £21,000 to £41,000 – RPI plus up to 3% depending on income
  • £41,000 and over – RPI plus 3%

Can I start my course before I have obtained my loan?

If you enrol and state that your method of payment will be a Learning Loan, we will allow you to start your course and remain on it for a maximum of six weeks, whilst the loan facility is being organised. However, we will require you to complete a direct debit mandate to enable us to collect the fees over the remainder of your course, should either the loan request be declined or you decide not to proceed with the loan application. This will only be processed once the 6 weeks have elapsed and if we have not received any payments from the Student Loan Company by this time. If subsequently we do receive such fees, we will refund you appropriately.

Please remember – By enrolling on a course, you are agreeing to pay the total price for the whole course, including all outstanding balances. Once your loan application has been approved, the Student Loan Company will on your behalf, pay us a pro-rata amount of the loan you have taken out. Whilst you are attending, if you withdraw, the Student Loan Company will not make any further payments to us and the loan you have taken out will not increase any further. However, you will be liable for the balance of the fees due in respect of the course on which you have enrolled in. Please also remember that if the Student Loan Company rejects your application you will still be responsible for the total price of the course.

How much interest will I pay?

It’s important for you to consider your own circumstances and look into all options for paying for your course before choosing to take out a loan. You can get individual financial advice from the Money Advice Service at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk