So, you want to become a personal trainer but have no funds available? Government Advanced Loans, also known as 19+ loans (previously 24+ loans), seem to be an option.
A lot of course providers advertise courses available for Government Advanced Loans as government funded courses but the reality is 19+ loan is exactly that – a loan. It means that at some point you will have to repay it. This fact is often smartly covered by marketing efforts and government funded personal trainer courses seem to be free. But they’re not.
What are 19+ government loans?
The Government has introduced 19+ Advanced Learning Loans to help learners aged 19 and above to pay the fees charged by training providers for Level 3 and 4 training courses.
It is a loan which you don’t have to repay as long as you income stays below £21k/year threshold. The moment your earnings are higher than £21k you start to repay it at the rate of 9%. For example, on a salary of £22k per annum, repayments could be £7.50 per month, depending on course attended.
If for any reason, your yearly income drops below £21k your repayment stops. The loan is usually written off after 30 years.
The advanced loan covers Level 3 & 4 courses. It means you are allowed to do your personal trainer diploma course.
Pros & cons
The biggest advantage of the government-funded loan is the fact that you don’t need any money to start your fitness career. If you meet eligibility criteria you are good to go. This may open completely new opportunities to a group of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford fitness qualifications.
Another positive aspect of the scheme is the fact that loan is tied up with your income. You repay it when you can afford it – £7.50/month with the income of £22k/year needs to be considered low.
As I already mentioned – 19+ loan is still a loan. It needs to be repaid at some point. It will be always there until the moment you pay it off (or wait for 30 years).
The biggest disadvantage of Advanced Loans is the price you pay for the course. Not only is the government loan interest-bearing but the actual price of the personal trainer course is often much higher than the normal one.
Why is that?
First of all, providers offering courses have some extra admin costs to cover. There is a lot of paperwork involved which mean more working hours for admin teams.
Secondly, a lot of providers run PT courses collaborating with partner companies. Loans go through the partner companies (as they are government accredited centres) and course provider only delivers the course. As two businesses are being involved, the course needs to be more expensive so both companies can profit.
Most of the fitness course provider will require a refundable deposit. It is not a big secret that the drop off rate on “free” courses is high. To ensure most of the students actually graduate from the courses providers will take anything between £100 to £300 in a form of refundable deposit.
It means you may lose your money if you don’t finish up the entire course.
You should only consider Advanced Loan if you have absolutely no funds available. A lot of people see these loans as free and sign up for the courses to see if Personal Trainer career is something for them. Some don’t give it a second thought.
In most of the cases, if you can put money into deposit you will be able to do your courses using one of the affordable instalment plans.