Version 1.0 - Last Updated: 24 Feb 2021

Eligibility and assessment

Armed forces personnel factsheet


Since 1 August 2017, new students may be eligible for support if:

  • they are serving members of the armed forces, or family members who have moved overseas to live with them
  • they are studying a designated course that is delivered by a UK college or training centre

Since academic year 2018/19, armed forces personnel and eligible family members living with them do not need to be studying in England to receive an Advanced Learner Loan. They may be eligible for support if they live in another UK country.

Earlier policy stated that they needed to be serving 'overseas' while now it states 'outside of England'. This means that other UK countries are also covered.

This change applies to new students starting a course from 1 August 2018 onward who are:

  • UK armed forces personnel
  • eligible family members living with armed forces personnel
  • living in another part of the UK due to being in the armed forces
  • studying a designated course by an English provider

The armed forces are defined as:

  • the Naval Service (Royal Navy and Royal Marines)
  • the Army
  • the Royal Air Force

Eligibility

Learners  must meet some essential criteria to be eligible for the Advanced Learner Loan. 

The learner must:

  • be aged 19 or over on the first day of their course
  • be living in the UK on the first day of their course
  • have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years immediately before their course
  • be studying with a college or training organisation in England approved for public funding
  • be studying an approved qualification

From 1 August 2017, learners who are not resident in the UK may still be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan if they're:

  • a serving member of the UK armed forces
  • the spouse, civil partner or family member living with a serving member of the armed forces
  • a dependent parent living with a serving member of the armed forces

The following family members will be eligible learners:

  • the spouse or civil partner living with a member of the UK armed forces serving overseas
  • a child, stepchild or adoptive child living with a member of the UK armed forces serving overseas
  • a dependent parent living with
    • a child who is a member of the UK armed forces serving overseas
    • the child’s spouse or civil partner who is a member of the UK armed forces serving overseas

Evidence

If the student is a member of the armed forces, they must provide evidence of temporary employment outside of the UK as a member of the armed forces serving overseas.

If the student is a family member of the member of the armed forces, they must provide:

  • evidence of their relationship to the member of the armed forces
  • evidence that the member of the armed forces is temporarily employed outside of the UK as a member of the armed forces serving overseas

When applying as a dependent parent (or parent’s spouse or civil partner), we also need evidence to prove dependency. This must show that the parent is wholly or mainly financially dependent on the member of the armed forces. We will review this on a case by case basis.


Evidence frequency

We only need to see evidence of being a serving member of the armed forces overseas once, at the start of a new period of eligibility. This could be:

  • at the start of a new course
  • when a returning student moves overseas
  • when a returning student (already overseas) applies due to being eligible for the first time

Acceptable evidence

Acceptable evidence is a stamped letter, or stamped pro forma, from the Armed Forces Unit Records Office. If it has the unit stamp there will be no restriction on who can sign it for the learner.

The stamped letter or pro forma is enough to prove overseas employment in the armed forces and familial relationship to the member of the armed forces. It is also enough evidence of financial dependency of a parent.

Residency evidence to prove the learner's personal eligibility can either be originals or, at the discretion of the processing unit, unit stamped readable certified photocopies.


Leaving the armed forces

Once a learner studying overseas is eligible for student support, they will remain eligible to the end of their period of eligibility (course end date or withdrawal date). This applies even if they or their family member leave the armed forces.


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