Learners will be able to apply for a further education loan from March 2013, according to a clarification by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The announcement, published in ‘A Guide to Further Education Loans for colleges and training organisations’ last week, states: “The FE Loans system will be launched in March 2013, at which point learners can apply for an FE Loan in advance of courses starting in the 2013/14 academic year.”

Anyone aged 24 or above and studying a course at level 3 or higher will be eligible for the new funding scheme, worth up to £4,000 depending on the qualification.

A final Impact Assessment and Equality Impact Assessment of FE Loans is expected to be published by BIS in April 2012, according to the document.

In the report, BIS states: “This follows the publication of a draft Impact Assessment and a Screening Equality Impact Assessment alongside the New Challenges, New Chances consultation in August.”

Applications will be assessed by the Student Loans Company, mimicking the support already in place for learners accessing higher education.

Learners that choose to take out an FE loan will only be asked to make repayments once they have left the course and started earning over £21,000.

Individuals can take out consecutive loans if they study a new qualification, however they won’t be eligible if they want to study course previously started at the same level.

The guide to FE loans, available to download here, answers a number of questions frequently asked by colleges and providers, including dates for implementation, eligibility for an FE loan, and what advice providers will be required to give learners.

The report states: “As a college or training organisation you will need to work with the individual to identify a suitable learning programme to meet their identified needs as per your current processes.

“The individual will need to understand the cost of this programme and their options for funding this.

“You will not be expected to offer any financial advice to the learner but you can signpost them to further information about FE Loans.”

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