Are Access to HE Diplomas worth the financial cost?

22 March 2023

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You may understandably be concerned about the costs associated with doing an Access to HE course – not just the course fees, but your living costs while you study too.

However, an Access to HE Diploma is well worth the investment, and there is a good chance you will be able to access financial support, in the form of grants, loans or bursaries, which will ensure you do not miss out on the long-term benefits of higher education.

Read on to find out more about why an Access Diploma is worth the financial cost.

An Access to HE Diploma has long-term financial benefits

Doing an Access to HE Diploma course opens the door to a higher education qualification such as a BSc, BA, or a higher-level apprenticeship, which will significantly increase your employability and earning potential throughout your career.

According to the Luminate Prospects ‘What do graduates do?’ report (2023), the majority of graduates find work soon after completing their degree; 57% of graduates were in full-time work 15 months after graduating, despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For certain degree subjects, this figure is much higher. For example, 94% of those who study nursing land a job within six months of graduating – and nursing is one of the most popular degree subjects for Access students.

Furthermore, those with a degree are likely to earn more than those who do not go to university. A 2020 report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that about 80% of students are likely to gain financially from attending university.

Over their working lives, men will be £130,000 better off on average by going to university after taxes, student loan repayments and foregone earnings are taken into account. For women, this figure is £100,000.

If you receive Job Seeker’s Allowance benefits, you may still be able to claim these while you study

If you receive Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) benefits, you may be worried about having to give these up when you start an Access course.

Though most full-time students are not able to claim JSA benefits, there are some exceptions to this rule. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may still be able to claim some benefits. This applies if you are:

  • A lone parent
  • A member of a couple with a child where both of you are full-time students and you claim during your summer holidays

You can find more details about JSA eligibility here. If you are unsure whether you are eligible to continue claiming benefits whilst studying, please speak to your Jobcentre Plus (JCP) Advisor for guidance or contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus here.

Financial support may be available to help pay for course fees and living costs

If you are aged between 19-23 years old, your Access to HE Diploma will be fully funded as part of the Adult Education Budget.

If you are aged 24+, the Advanced Learner Loan should be your first port of call when seeking financial support for your course. This pays for your course fees, is available to you regardless of your income – and there is a good chance you will not have to pay it back.

For this, you apply directly to your college or training provider, who will inform you if they can support you to access this.

You only start repaying the loan once you earn over £25,725 per year, and if you go on to complete a higher education course following your Diploma, any remaining repayments are written off.

If your application for an Advanced Learner Loan is approved, you can then apply for a bursary from the Loan Bursary Fund. This can help you pay for:

  • Accommodation and travel
  • Course materials and equipment
  • Childcare
  • Classroom assistance for a disability or learning difficulty.

For this, you apply directly to your college or training provider. Speak to your student services department if you need support with your application or are unsure about your eligibility.

You may also be eligible for a grant to help you pay your course fees and/or living costs. The Turn2Us website allows you to search for grants from charities for which you may be eligible, depending on your age, gender, location, and other factors. Grants are an attractive option as you do not have to pay them back.

Find out more about Access to HE Diplomas

You can find out more about funding for Access to HE Diplomas on our Student Information page.

For a general introduction to Access to HE Diplomas and how they work, read this blog post.

We have a useful student information section with lots more information to help you with your studies. Visit our Student Information Hub

Visit our Student Information Hub