Cost is one of the most frequently-cited barriers by those in the fitness industry who are looking to advance their training and gain qualifications. One route for securing funding is the Government’s 24 Plus Advanced Learning Loan, while another avenue is the Professional and Career Development Loan.
Essentially this is a bank loan used to pay for courses and training that will help you further your career or provide the catalyst for getting into work. With regards to the fitness industry, it could be used to advance your skills from a Level 2 Gym Instructor to a Level 3 Personal Trainer, or embark on a more specialised path such as working with pre and postnatal clients or an Exercise Referral Diploma.
What is it?
The Career Development Loan is a bank loan used to pay for courses and training. For the duration of your course, and one month after it’s finished, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) pays the interest on the loan. Once that month has elapsed it’s then up to you to begin repaying the loan and subsequent interest.
What do I need to know?
There are few stipulations that you should be made aware of:
You can only apply for a loan through Barclays or Co-Operative
There are currently two banks offering access to the loan and you should apply three months before your course is due to start.
You may be able to borrow £300-£10,000
Once the loan amount has been decided, you’ll then need to reach an agreement with the bank regarding how long you’ll take to pay it back. Repayment can anything from 12 to 60 months, or as a lump sum.
Courses can only last up to two years
However, if you’re undertaking a year of work experience then courses can be three years.
You can’t have savings over £16,000
If you’re taking out a loan then you are required to sign a legally binding agreement with the bank stating the money you’re borrowing is going to be used to pay course fees or living expenses.
What can it be used for?
In order to be granted a career development loan, your chosen course must help with your career. That doesn’t mean it has to directly lead to a job however, you could already be working in the fitness industry and looking to add new skills to your existing repertoire. For example, if you currently possess a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification, but are keen to expand into Pilates, Yoga or Exercise to Music.
How can I apply?
Providing you are 18 or over, have been living in the UK for at least 3 years before your course starts, and plan to work in the UK, EU or European Economic Area after your course, you’re eligible to apply.