Version 1.0 - Last Updated: 24 Feb 2021

Eligibility and assessment

Learning aim levels and types factsheet

The Advanced Learner Loan (ALL) is available to support learners studying at Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) approved learning providers in England. They must be studying one of the following types and levels of ESFA-designated learning aims:

  • a programme of A levels (AS or A levels)
  • an Access to HE Diploma
  • general and technical qualifications at levels 3, 4, 5 and 6

Course duration

Learners are eligible for a loan for the duration of their course. However, there is a maximum time period before they enter repayment.

This maximum period of learning will depend on their course:

  • a programme of A levels (AS or A levels) – 2 years for each A level or AS
  • an Access to HE Diploma – 2 years
  • general and technical qualification at levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 – a maximum period of 3 years

A learning aim must be at least 2 weeks long. This ensures that all learners meet the initial 2-week liability period.

Distance learning

Learners can apply for loans for distance learning courses.

These are defined as courses delivered outside classrooms, of the provider’s hub and bespoke locations.

They must be based in England except in exceptional circumstances agreed with ESFA, for example serving members of the armed forces.


There is no distinction between full-time and part-time learning in further education. Advanced Learner Loans are available to eligible learners regardless of their intensity of study. However, they will only be paid over a period of up to 3 years. 

Previous and concurrent study

Learners can have up to 4 loans for the same type of vocational qualification. They can study the 4 learning aims in any order or at the same time. They do not need to progress through the learning aim levels. For example, a learner may want to study a certificate in a trade after completing a diploma in management.

Learners will only be entitled to one Advanced Learner Loan for:

  • a programme of A levels (up to 8 separate loans if studying 4 AS levels followed by the corresponding 4 A levels)
  • an Access to HE Diploma

This is because these learning aims are focussed on a progression-related outcome. This applies whether the qualification is achieved or not. The only exception is if a learner has had to withdraw from their studies due to compelling personal reasons (CPR).

Learners will be entitled to an Advanced Learner Loan while they are in receipt of a higher education loan. This includes postgraduate master’s, doctoral and maintenance loans. Similarly, a higher education applicant will be entitled to a higher education loan while they are in receipt of an Advanced Learner Loan.

Change of learning aim

You or the learner must tell us when they change to a different learning aim at your college or training centre, as this may affect their eligibility.

If you have not confirmed the learner’s initial attendance, they are pre-liability. This means they can change to any other type or level of learning aim.

However, once you have confirmed the learner’s initial attendance, they are post-liability. This means they can only transfer to a learning aim of the same level and type. If the learner decides to change learning aim type or level, they must withdraw from their current learning aim and make a new application. This applies even if they have achieved units that are part of the rules of combination of the new learning aim.

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