Educational grants

Statutory sources

It is difficult to comprehensive guide to statutory entitlements for people in education. The situation is very complex and changes constantly, but the state is still the largest provider of educational support. There are a number of organisations which provide comprehensive guides, information and advice to students wishing to study in the UK and overseas.

The four main goverment education departments are listed below. Please note that a list of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) can be found on the DfES Student Support website at:

Department for Education and Skills: Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3BT (08700 002288; Fax: 01928 794248; e-mail:; Website:

Welsh Office Education Department: Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ (029 2082 5111; Website:

Department of Education for Northern Ireland: Rathgael House, 43 Balloo Road, Bangor, Co. Down BT19 7PR (028 9127 9279; Fax: 028 9127 9100; e-mail:; Website:

Scottish Education Department: Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ (0131 556 8400; Fax: 0131 244 8240; e-mail:; Website:

Career Development Loans

Career Development Loans (CDLs) are provided by three high street banks which incur no interest or repayments until the course is completed. The interest during the duration of the course (and one month afterwards) is met by the DfES; this effectively means the individual is in the same position as if they had taken out the loan at the completion of the course, but allowing them to receive the payments upfront to cover the costs of the study. Due to the beneficial nature of the payments from DfES, CDLs are only given to people without the means of undertaking the course from their own funds

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

  • be undertaking a vocational course which will provide employment prospects currently unavailable to the applicant (this excludes qualifications at a level already gained, access courses leading to further study and courses intend to provide job search or similar skills to help navigate the recruitment process rather than increase employability)
  • be aged 18 or over at time of application
  • live or intend to train in Great Britain (comprising of England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland)
  • intend to use the skills learnt for work in the UK, European Union or European Economic Area (which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) once the course is finished.

CDLs can not be given for courses financed through another publically-funded source, such as an ILA (Wales), student loans or non-means tested NHS bursary. Employed people receiving a grant from their employer are also ineligible.

Amount available
The amount available ranges from £300 to £8,000. Loans, and deferments, can be made for up to two years (three if a years practical experience is included as part of the course). Therefore, for courses lasting longer than this, it is recommended that the CDL is only taken for the final two years to avoid repayments starting whilst still studying. For part-time courses, the loans can be used for up to 80% of the course fees (or up to the full amount if the applicant has been unemployed for at least three months), whilst full-time students can claim up to 100% of their living expenses as well as the course fees entitlement. As CDLs can affect benefit claims, it is worth considering the full implications of a loan before agreeing to one. However, people claiming as full-time students are entitled to work for up to 30 hours a week during their study without eligibility for a CDL being affected (provided they do not have the means for financing their study from these wages).

For course fees, payment is paid directly to the learning provider as and when needed. For living expenses, payments are only made once the bank has received notification from the provider that the individual has started the course. Living expenses are normally paid in instalments rather than in full at the start of the course. There is no obligation to bank with the financial institution providing the CDL, the only benefit of already being a customer is that it sometimes involves having less forms to fill in rather than affecting the outcome of the application.

Repayments begin one month after the completion of the course. This is interpreted as the intended finishing date at the start of the course, the day the learner withdraws from the courses or extensions provided due to ill health or similar unforeseen circumstances. Extensions given for other reasons, such as late submission of a dissertation, are not accepted as a new finishing date. Similarly, submitting a dissertation before a deadline, for example, does not affect the referral date.

There are options to postpone the start of repayments if you are receiving a statutory means-tested benefit at the end of the course, although this must be agreed by the bank. Therefore, people actively looking for employment and receiving Jobseekers Allowance, for instance, may be able to defer, whereas people opting to spend a year travelling before looking for work cannot.

The rate of interest is agreed when the loan is taken out and a plan for repayments is made. These can be spread over one to five years. Banks can offer different interest rates within the scheme. For example, a £8,000 for a two-year course, repayable over five years will work at £181.09 a month with Barclays or £178.85 with The Co-operative Bank, which amounts to a difference of £134.400 over the lifetime of the loan (based on figures contained in the banks CDL brochures in August 2004, unfortunately Royal Bank of Scotland did not provide an example of this loan in their publicity). Given there are only three banks in the scheme, it is easy to obtain quotes from all three banks and simply select the cheapest.

Further information
A booklet on the scheme, including the literature from each of the participating banks, is available by: telephone on 0800 585 505 (8am to 10pm every day except New Years Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day); minicom on 0800 100 900; or via the internet at Repayment details can be obtained from branches of the three participating banks:

  • Barclays Bank PLC, Career Development Loans, PO Box 228, Liverpool L69 7RU (0845 60 900 60).
  • The Co-operative Bank, Freepost, PO Box 200, Delf House, Skelmersdale, Lancashire WN8 6BR (08457 212 212).
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland, Customer Lending Centre, 100 West George Street, Glasgow G2 (0800 121 127).