Exploring pros and cons of funding a Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer course via a Government 19+ loan versus self-funding.
Advanced Learner Loans (also called 19+ loans), are like university loans and can be used to fund training through a student loan. The first thing to note however is that this is a loan - not a grant. It must be paid back, with interest once you are earning above the repayment threshold.
Currently, this means the Government pay the fees - and then you only start to pay back this loan when you are earning £27,295+. Then the more you earn, the more you will pay back, with interest, until it is paid off. This option is open to UK residents (who have lived in the UK for the last three years) aged 19 or over - subject to finding a provider who is offering this.
Delivery of a 19+ funded Personal Trainer course versus self funding
It is important to note however that many of the top Personal Trainer course providers in the UK (especially those offering online courses) do not accept 19+ loans – they are more commonly seen in colleges and similar attendance-based educational institutions. The reason for this is that anything to do with Government loan funding requires a rigid structure with regular monitoring, which means things like regular physical attendance throughout an academic year, set hours of classes each week, weekly homework and the embedding of additional training like English, Maths, Employability skills etc.
This is conflicting to what you would find with a online course, where you simply study the Personal Trainer course online at your own pace with no (or little) physical attendance hence why you do not really see online course providers offering 19+ loans - however at colleges you will see they are often available.
Costs of funded versus self-funded Personal Trainer courses
Due to the nature of 19+ funded courses (e.g., heavy on physical attendance) you will often see providers charge much higher fees that would be seen for self-funded online courses. This is because attendance based learning incurs higher costs to deliver than online training.
Repayment of a 19+ Loan
If you take a 19+ loan repayments are calculated at 9% of the money you earn over and above £27,295. Basically, the more you earn the more you pay each month until it's repaid – remember you will also pay back interest! Repayments come out automatically from your PAYE or if you end up being self-employed (as many PTs do) then you will need to declare your 19+ loan in your tax returns so repayments due can be calculated.
19+ Loan Application
If you decide to fund your course using a 19+ loan, then the first thing to do is to find a provider offering this such as a college or attendance-based educational institution. Then, if the loan is available, the provider will arrange an interview then, if successful, issue an funding letter and go through the application process with you. You will need your passport / birth certificate to prove identification at this point. The College will also need you to undertake mandatory English & Maths screening before enrolling you – if there are any shortfalls here the College may offer you an English / Maths course first.
The approval process usually takes up to 6 weeks, but it can take longer to get an answer if there is any issue with your eligibility. Then once approved, you will receive confirmation and the College will usually invite you in for an induction and let you know of their next start date.
Alternatives to loan-funded Personal Trainer courses
The obvious alternative to using a 19+ loan is to self-fund. Here you simply pay for the course you wish to do and start right away! Many providers offer interest free instalments to break down the cost of training. Its worth noting that the cost of self-funding an online course is almost always significantly cheaper that taking out a loan for an attendance-based course. Another advantage is that many students are attracted to the convenience of flexible online study, which is something that providers don’t offer through the Government loan (due to the rigid structure of attendance etc) however self-funding allows for this.
Hopefully this article has made you aware of the pros and cons of funding your training with a 19+ loan. Below is a concise summary of the pros and cons:
Pros - funding your Personal Training course
- Can be useful if you simply don’t have the money to self-fund
- You only pay the loan back when earning a reasonable salary
- If you are employed, repayments come out automatically from your PAYE
- Readily available in colleges
Cons - funding your Personal Training course
- Not compatible with flexible “work at own pace” online courses
- Fees are usually much higher than self-funded online courses
- It’s a loan – not a grant – and interest does apply
- You need to wait to get approved then wait for the next cohort
It is of course up to you to appraise this information and decide on the best option for you. If you think 19+ loans are right for you then you may wish to start by approaching your local college. If you think that self-funding would work better for you then please click the following link to see Study Active’s range of self-funded, online/ blended, personal trainer courses.