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 £26,575 year threshold. The moment your earnings are higher than £26,575 you start to repay it at the rate of 9%. For example, on a salary of £28k per annum, repayments could be £10.69 per month, depending on the course attended.
If for any reason, your yearly income drops below £26,575 your repayment stops until you earn above the threshold again. 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 Level 3 Personal Trainer Diploma course with this, subject to eligibility and availability.
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 (unless the provider asks for a deposit as discussed later in this article). If you meet eligibility criteria and get accepted onto a course with an approved provider who is offering the 19+ loan, then 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 earn over a certain amount – £10.69/month with the income of £28k/year needs to be considered fairly low in comparison to a bank loan.
As 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 for it to be written off).
Another disadvantage of Advanced Learner 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 charged by a provider is often fixed at a standard amount rather than any kind of special offer / discounted price that may apply to self-funded courses.
Some fitness course providers will ask for 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 some providers will take anything between £100 to £300 in a form of refundable deposit. It is important to note however that there are other providers who do not ask for such deposits.
Paying a deposit as described above means you may lose your money if you don’t finish up the entire course.
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! But remember this is a loan, not a grant and you may still have to pay this back even if you don’t complete your course. It is therefore important to make an informed decision looking at all factors before you decide if an Advanced Learner loan is for you.