Skip to content

Finance and Course Fees

On this page, you will find information about finance options, course fees, concessionary fees, advanced learner loans and instalment plans.

Many of the courses we offer are supported by funding from the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). Skills & Learning must make responsible use of this funding and has a duty to ensure it is used to support learners who are committed to achieving and live in Dorset. We welcome enrolments from those who live elsewhere but cannot guarantee the same funding.

We also offer courses that do not receive any external funding, and these are supported by the fees we charge to learners.

Please note all courses, whether paid for by the Government or yourself, require full commitment.

Each course we offer has a code which we use to identify the course and the finance options available. You can find the course code when enrolling on a course on our website or call our team to ask.

Courses Starting AA, AT, AN, QE, QN and QT

If you are unemployed, under employed, in receipt of benefits or on a low wage (under £25,000) you could study courses starting AA, AT, AN, QE, QN and QT for free. You may be eligible if:

  • You receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or any other state benefit.
  • You are unemployed or under employed.
  • Your take home pay (disregarding Universal Credit and other benefits) is less than £494 a month (if you are a sole adult in your benefit claim) or £782 a month (if you have a joint benefit claim with your partner).
  • Your earnings are less than £25,000 pa.

Contact us or read our terms & conditions and other policies to check if you’re eligible.

If you’re not eligible, you can pay via an Instalment Plan or by paying the full course fee upfront.

AH courses

AH Courses can be paid for in full or with an Advanced Learner Loan. Learner Loans help you pay for courses, and you don’t need to pay anything back until your income is over £25,000 a year. See information about advanced learner loans and how to apply here.

You can also pay for AH courses with an Instalment Plan.

AF courses

You can study on AF courses either:

  • By paying upfront in full
  • With an Advanced Learner Loan. Learner Loans help you pay for courses, and you don’t need to pay anything back until your income is over £25,000 a year. See information about advanced learner loans and how to apply here.
  • Fully funded under the ‘Free Courses for Jobs’ offer. You may be eligible if you are 19 + at the start of the course and do not already have a full Level 3 or above qualification, or you are unemployed or your earnings are less than £25,000pa. Contact us to find out more.
  • With an Instalment Plan

TG, ZA and ZN Courses

The fee shown for TG, ZA and ZN courses is the full cost. There are no subsidies available. You can pay either up front or via an Instalment Plan.

NE courses

These courses are for those who are unemployed or under-employed and are free to eligible learners.

PL, PS and PM Courses

PL, PS and PM courses can be paid for upfront in full, with an Instalment Plan, or upfront discounted with our concessionary fee. Find out more about our concessionary discount here.

Concessionary fees – 40% off leisure courses

BCP and Dorset residents who meet any of the qualifying criteria will receive a 40% discount on courses eligible for the concessionary fee:

  • Tax credits (Working Tax Credits combined with Child Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits only or Working Tax Credits combined with disability element). Household gross annual income from your current award letter should be £19,995 or less. Use your most recent award letter – if this is for the current financial year, your income will be estimated and will be accepted.
  • Housing or Council Tax Support
  • Income Support or Guarantee Pension Credit (not savings credit)
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Universal Credit
  • Job Seekers Allowance (contribution based)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Incapacity Benefit – Higher or Long-Term Rate
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • War Disablement Pension
  • Social Services Cardholders
  • Armed forces personnel and their immediate family members

You can view which courses are eligible for a concessionary fee on our course search. If you’re unsure if you qualify or would like to query a course, please call us on 01202 123444.

Instalment plans

If you are ineligible for our fully funded or subsidised funding options and cannot afford to pay the full course cost, we have the other options:

For fees over £100It may be possible to pay 50% of the course fee before the enrolment can be processed for the course, with the remainder 50% being paid in 2 consecutive monthly instalments at 25% each. An example being – If the course costs £132 and starts in September, £66 must be paid before enrolment, with £33 being paid the next 2 months after the first initial payment. So, if the first payment is taken in September of £66, £33 will be owed in October and again in November.
For fees over £650We recommend that you contact our team at Skills and Learning for further information and guidance.

Advanced Learner Loans

Are you aged 19 or over and thinking about Further Education? Are you planning to study at Level 3,4,5,or 6? You may be able to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan. For the full guide to the student loans terms and conditions for 2024 to 2025 please click here.

How can an Advanced Learner Loan benefit me?

An Advanced Learner loan will help you to pay the fees charged by Skills & Learning. Most learners aged 19+ studying at Level 3, Level 4, Level 5 or Level 6 will qualify for these loans from the UK government. It’s easy to apply, your household income isn’t taken into account and there’s no credit check. You won’t have to pay anything back until your income is over £25,000 a year.

To qualify you must be:

  • Aged 19 or over on the first day of your course (there’s no upper age limit)
  • Living in the UK on the first day of your course and have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years immediately before this unless you meet one of the exceptions detailed in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQs) available from Adult Learning Centres
  • Enrolling on an eligible Certificate or Diploma course at Level 3, Level 4, Level 5 or Level 6

How to apply

You can apply for a loan as soon as we have confirmed your place on your course. You will be able to apply online or download an application form. Ask us and we will give you more details on how to apply.
It is important you consider your own circumstances and look into all options for paying for your course before choosing to take out a loan. You can get independent financial advice from the Money Advice Service—

How much can I get?

The amount you can get depends on the course maximum amounts set by the government. The minimum loan amount is £300. You can take out a loan for the maximum amount to cover your fee or you can pay all or part of the fee yourself. The loan may not cover all the costs of the course especially if materials and equipment are required. A bursary fund is also available which may be able to support with childcare or transport.

Course fees

The fee for your course will be set by Skills & Learning. We will confirm the cost and the amount that can be covered by a loan before you enrol.

Interest Rate

The interest rate will normally be set at RPI only.

How is the loan paid?

Student Finance England will pay your agreed loan directly to Skills & Learning once they have confirmed your attendance on the course.

How many loans can I get?

You will be eligible to apply for up to a total of four loans, to study eligible courses at Level 3, 4, 5, and 6.


Repaying your Advanced Learner Loan is straightforward.

  • Your monthly repayments will be based on your income, not what you borrowed.
  • You will only start making repayments when your income is more than £524 per week, £2,274 per month or £27,295 per year.
  • You will only pay back 9% of any income above £25,000 a year.

If your income drops or rises, for example if you receive a bonus, your repayment amount will automatically change to reflect this.

You can make voluntary repayments at any time to pay off your loan more quickly.

If you are employed, you do not need to do anything. Your employer will take your repayments directly off your salary as they do with tax and NI contributions.

If you stop working, your repayments will stop and only start again when your income is more than £25,000 a year.

You will be due to start repaying your loan in the April after you leave or finish your course. Any loan remaining 30 years after you are due to start making repayments will be written off.

Limited Availability

Please be aware that Skills & Learning are allocated a limited pot of Advanced Learner Loan funding each year and when this runs out, learners will not be able to apply for a loan through Skills & Learning. If loan funding runs out, you can still enrol and pay upfront or pay via an Instalment Plan. You may also find other local training providers offering similar qualification courses that can be supported by loan funding.

Need other support or have any questions? Our team are happy to help.

Contact us today