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How to fund your training – yes, you can afford to go back to school

Taking training can be costly. Yes, it’s an investment, and yes, it’s one of the best ways to spend money, improving yourself and gaining knowledge that could progress your career, but there’s no getting round it, education at this level just doesn’t come for free.

Jade O'Donoghue
12th February 2016
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It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself forking out the average £21,000 university students pay for tuition but, like anything in life, if you want good quality you will have to part with your hard earned cash.

It all sounds a bit bleak so far doesn’t it? Thankfully, it’s not and there are plenty of options to help you fund your training and ensure that taking a course becomes a reality and not just something you dream of while staring mindlessly at your computer monitor.

 

There’s no way I can afford it...

This might not be true. Courses vary greatly in price, depending on what you want to study, and even then different course providers might charge different amounts. Some methods of studying are cheaper too – for example, studying online can be significantly less because there are few overheads for the course provider. Studying part time can also be a cheaper option in some cases since you will be expected to do more work at home. If you look at the initial price of a course and gawp, you’ll probably find there are cheaper options if you ask the course provider directly.

 

Footing the bill

So you’ve found the course you want to do and now you need to figure out how to pay for it. The obvious option is to save up, though for many this isn’t possible, so payment plans might be more suitable. You could pay in instalments, spreading the cost so it doesn’t hurt as much in the beginning. For some courses you can even pay as you go. This is often the case for smaller adult learning courses such as music lessons or fitness classes but there might be options to do this for longer training courses, particularly if they’re held on a one to one basis.

 

24+ loans

Another option could be borrowing money. Fear not, this doesn’t have to mean going to your bank and paying interest for years. 24+ loans are similar to student loans in that you can take them out to pay for the cost of training and you don’t have to pay them back until you earn over a certain amount per year (currently £21,000). There are a few catches though, the course must be a Level 3 or 4 course and you have to be over 24 to be eligible to apply for the money. Have a look at the gov.uk site for more information on this type of funding.

 

Doing it for work?

If you’re lucky, you might even be able to get your employer to pay for your training. Usually you’ll need to prove that the training is relevant to your job but many workplaces will support their employees in further training even if it’s not directly related. You might struggle to get them to fund your journalism degree if you’re working as a nurse, but it’s worth asking your employer if you are interested in something a bit left field because they may have schemes to help.

 

Free money (sort of)

It sounds too good to true but there are lots of options out there for getting your course paid for entirely by someone else. There are bursaries, which are often calculated based on your income and that of those who you live with; scholarships, which are usually awarded based on academic ability; and even in rare cases, sponsorship, where companies or individuals will pay for your training. Speak to the course provider you’re hoping to take a course with and ask if they know what options are available, as they should be well versed in this based on others who have studied with them.

 

Is it all worth it?

This is a question only you can answer really – you need to weigh up how much you’re going to gain through taking a course in the long run and how much it’s going to cost. If it’s training for work or to progress your career you need to work out how it’s going to do that and thus whether it’s worth the money. On the other hand, a fun evening course can also still be worth the money, even if it’s not going to return you any financial gains because it can be beneficial to your well being and personal development.

 

What now?

However you look at it, there are definitely financial considerations to look at when choosing a training course but even if you’ve got very little in your bank account it’s not impossible. Start your search today and once you’ve got an idea of what you might like to do, it’s time to look into these different funding options. Best of luck!

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