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Is an Access to HE Diploma worth the financial cost?

19 March 2020

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.


Furthermore, if you receive Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) benefits, you may be worried about having to give these up.


However, an Access to HE Diploma is well worth the investment , and we also want to reassure you that there is a good chance you will be able to access alternative 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.


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 Graduate Prospects Ltd, the vast majority of university graduates find work soon after completing their degree; in 2018, almost 95% of graduates were employed six months after leaving university.


Furthermore, those with a degree are likely to earn more than those who do not have a degree. A 2018 report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that, respectively, female and male graduates are earning 28% and 8% more on average than those without degrees up to the age of 29.


Given that graduates’ earnings tend to rise more quickly during their early and mid-careers, you can expect these returns to increase further throughout your career as your skills and experience grow.


You may still be able to claim Job Seeker’s Allowance benefits

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


For more details about JSA eligibility, click 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 ESFA-funded 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.


Don’t forget that you can also access financial support through the Skills and Education Group Foundation. You can apply for a grant from the Foundation to help you pay for:


-  Educational resources

-  Transport costs

-  Living costs

-  Childcare

-  Educational events such as; organised visits, seminars which support learning outcomes etc.

-  Recreational activities such as; organising student union events, attending a sporting activity etc.


You can find out more information and download application forms here. Speak to a representative from your college or training provider if you are interested in applying.


Want to find out more about Access to HE Diplomas?

Get answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.


Browse our range of Access to HE Diplomas here.


If you have any other questions about doing an Access to HE Diploma, our team will be happy to help you. Contact us via email or call 01924 434601.