level 4 - Student Finance for part time course

xcathx Registered Posts: 6 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐

I have just signed up to do my level 4 at the local college two nights a week. As I'm currently out of work, I could do with some help to pay the fees (no remission offered) and was advised by Student Finance England that I could apply for a fee and course grant, IF my course was considered at least 50% intensity in comparison to a full-time equivalent.

I have just been informed by my tutor that it will only be 48% (!)

Is there anyone else applying for the same funding for their level 4, and if so, have you been told the course will be more than 50% study rate?

I would prefer to be working and able to pay for the course myself, but there doesn't seem to be any jobs available in my area. I have previously worked as an Accounts Manager but at the moment all I can find is voluntary admin work. If I can't get this funding, I'll need to find over £800 for my fees, which may not be possible.

Thanks for taking the time to read, any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • uknitty
    uknitty Registered Posts: 591
    I honestly don't know how the study rate is worked out - I know that under the QCF framework each unit is allocated a certain number of hours which represent the hours learning required. If the basis of "intensity" is worked out on these standard hours per unit then it will be the same amount of intensity no matter where you study. Of the optional units Personal tax carries 6 credits (60 Hours) Business Tax carries 7, and auditing carries 8 credits.

    Where abouts in the UK are you ? Do you have a local Community Voluntary Council? I work with my local CVC and some of the projects we run are aimed at helping people get funding for training that will help them back to employment. Funding varies from region to region though.

    I know that you can get funding for Open University foundation courses if your household income is less than £16,845 or you recieve certain benefits then your course will be funded. I know this doesn't answer your initial question about AAT funding, but it does present another option for funding towards studying a higher level qualifiction. If you can get it funded free then it may compliment your AAT studies and enhance your career prospects ?
  • xcathx
    xcathx Registered Posts: 6 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
    Thank you for the reply.

    According to the application form, they need to decide how many credits/modules/units I am getting, compared to if I were doing an equivalent full time course. Apparently no one at my college has ever seen one of these Student Finance applications before and I'm not sure they know how to work this out.
    Doing a quick search online for colleges that offer the level 4 qualification shows that most of them are 1 year courses too. Surely this would suggest that my study rate is 100%?

    I live in NE UK. I've asked the job centre and college about possible funding but they both said they don't know of any for level 4 courses. I found out about Student Finance when searching online and when I called them and told them I was doing AAT 4, they assured me I would be able to get full funding.

    I've not tried our local CVC, I'll give them a call on Monday to see if they can help, thanks.

    I know certain benefits allow for discounts/full remission for level 2 and 3 courses directly with the colleges, but they only way I could find to get help with level 4 is to apply through Student Finance.

    For anyone not aware of them, you can get a Fee Grant and Course Grant, depending on the type of course you're doing, where you're studying etc. The amount awarded is based on your household income for the previous tax year and the intensity of your course.
  • ajm
    ajm Registered Posts: 17 Dedicated contributor ? ? ?
    According to Ofqual, http://register.ofqual.gov.uk/Qualification/Details/500_8323_5 AAT Level 4 is 41 credits and I know a full time university course is 120 credits per year (the first year of university is level 4). I don't know if that is what they consider full time for funding purposes though.
  • uknitty
    uknitty Registered Posts: 591
    This link has advice on suggested funding sources and benefits that you may be entitled to

  • Sulew17
    Sulew17 Registered Posts: 174 ? ? ?
    Hi, I have also been looking at Fee grants & Course grants for Level 4 for next year. If you're on jobseekers allowance it looks like you would qualify for maximum help. The following comes from direct.gov.uk:

    Step two: check if you qualify for maximum help automatically

    You’ll get the maximum Course Grant and maximum Fee Grant available for your course’s intensity (up to the actual amount you’re charged for tuition fees) if you’re receiving any of the following benefits:
    •Income Support

    •Housing Benefit (including Local Housing Benefit)

    •Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

    •Council Tax Benefit

    •income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

    •New Deal Allowance

    Otherwise, what you get will be based on your income - and usually, if you live with a partner, their income too.

    I don't know if this would help. Good luck

  • xcathx
    xcathx Registered Posts: 6 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
    Thanks everyone.

    It's not looking good, is it?

    I think I need to speak to my tutors - I can't work out which figures they used to reach 48%.

    Sulew - regardless of benefits you receive, you can only apply if your study rate is 50% or more.

    I could apply for the college's Learner Support Fund, but it's likely that wouldn't be much more than £100. Would help to buy books, but I'd still need to find another way to pay the fees.
  • uknitty
    uknitty Registered Posts: 591
    Can't you look at doing it distance learning and spreading the cost of the course in installments ?

    It will bring the cost of the course down and make the payment of fees more manageable. I thought it was going to be awful doing level 4 "alone" but its not that bad.

    There are lots of other people currently studying level 4 distance and a fair few on here that have completed it already.

    Out of interest how much do you need to find to cover the course fees at your college ?
  • zara5034
    zara5034 Registered Posts: 170 ? ? ?
    I recently completed Level 4 at a college in Cornwall.

    When I started, the full price of the course was £990, the apprentice rate was £500 and the concessionary fee was £380, so I opted for the concessionary fee, which I was eligible for due to receiving low earnings. I also applied for the student support grant, which I ended up receiving part way through the year which gave me about £300, so all in all, I paid very little.

    The college did also offer all student the option to pay their fees over 10 monthly installments. which was fairly affordable. Having completed Level 3 at Distance Learning, I paid a fortune through The Home Learning College and received a very poor service so would warn anyone against using them as it cost me £90 A month for 2 years!

    Have you tried Link into Learning for advice?
  • xcathx
    xcathx Registered Posts: 6 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
    I've considered distance learning but think I'd struggle to discipline myself enough without having regular classes to attend.

    Thankfully my college doesn't expect full course fees upfront. I've had to pay £200 for the two modules I'm studying this term, £400 will be due in Jan and £200 after Easter. (This is not including registration and exam fees.)

    There are no special rates offered for people from low income households, although there is a Learner Support Fund which offers help to buy books.

    I've just googled 'Link into Learning' but it appears to be a Cornwall based service for people with basic literacy/numeracy issues so isn't really relevant to my circumstances. Thanks for the suggestion anyway.

    After several weeks of being passed from one staff member to another at college, I've managed to pin down someone who gave me a study rate of 51%... However, I have also spoken again to Student Finance England who now say that AAT level 4 is not a 'Designated Course' which means it doesn't qualify for any funding from them anyway, despite explaining my situation to them in August and being assured I would receive full funding.

    Not good news, but I hope this helps anyone else who is thinking of applying for these grants.
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