Understanding costs of courses

Most  ACL Essex courses have some form of government funding which ACL receives from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Please be aware that course fees are correct at the time of publication but may change.

If you would like to enrol on a course that is government funded you must meet the eligibility criteria as detailed below.

Eligibility for funding

Most people will be eligible for funding if the learning is taking place in England and they:

  • Are a citizen of a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or other countries determined within the EEA, or
  • Have the Right of Abode in the UK, or have been ordinarily resident in the EEA for at least the previous three years on the first day of learning.
  • A non-EEA citizen is eligible for funding if they have permission granted by the UK government to live in the UK, which is not for educational purposes, and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least the previous three years before the start of learning.

The above information has been taken from the Skills Funding Agency Combined rules for Adult Education Budget 2016 to 2017 Version 1.

Courses which lead to a qualification (accredited courses)

a. Learners who are eligible for full funding from the SFA will not be charged a fee for any aspect of the course, including exams, resources or awarding organisation registration and fees. In this scenario ACL will draw down 100% of the fee allocation as set by the SFA so the course is free to the learner.

b. Learners who are eligible for co-funding as specified by the SFA will be funded at a rate of 50% by the SFA with a maximum of the other 50% being paid by the learner or employer. At the discretion of ACL, some courses may be charged at less than 50% for the learner.

c. Learners who qualify for no funding will pay 100% of the fee as set by the SFA. In this instance ACL draws down no funding from the SFA – the learners pay for the full fee.

Courses which lead to a qualification that are not eligible for any funding, such as First Aid, will be charged a course fee of at least £6.50 per hour plus accreditation fees. However the cost of these may change to reflect market rates.

Financial help for course fees

ACL offers a Discretionary Learning Support Fund (DLSF) to assist with cases of hardship related for example to, childcare (for those aged 20+) and transport, according to SFA regulations. Find out more about financial support.


No fee is charged to learners. Employer contributions will be charged in line with SFA guidance taking into account market rates.

Courses which are higher than Level 3

Fees will be set at funding rates advised by the SFA. We reserve the right to set some fees lower than advised rates to take into account local market conditions. Learners may wish to take out a Government provided advanced learner loan.


Those eligible for traineeships (16-24 year olds) will be fully funded and not charged a fee.

16-18 year olds (EFA funded provision)

All learners aged 16-18 years must undertake study programmes. Study programmes are fully funded and learners will not be charged a fee. Any learner aged 16 – 18 undertaking a course outside their study programme will be charged full fee.

Courses which do not lead to a qualification and courses for people with learning disabilities

a. The standard fee rate per hour is £4.70

b. The benefit rate is 50% of the standard rate i.e. £2.35 per hour

c. The supported learning rate is £2.10 per hour

d. Non EU and non-eligible learners will pay £8.50 per hour

We reserve the right to use the formula-funded approach where applicable in accordance with SFA guidance in AEB 2016 -2017 Funding Rules and 2016 – 2017 Funding Rates and Calculation refers.

A non-accredited (courses which do not lead to a qualification) and Supported Learning (courses for people with learning disabilities) bursary of £10,000 will be made available to assist with resources, childcare and travel in cases of exceptional financial hardship. £6,000 will be made available for the first term, £2,000 in the second term and £2,000 in the third term. Funds will be released on a termly basis.

Master classes (advanced learning)

Master classes will be charged at a minimum hourly rate of £6.50. We reserve the right to amend fees to reflect market rates. There is no concessionary fee on master classes. Minimum numbers of learners on courses will apply to ensure these courses remain financially viable.

Discounts and incentives on courses which do not lead to a qualification (no concessions)

At the discretion of the ACL Essex Head of Service specific, targeted discounts or incentives may be agreed and marketed.

Only one promotional offer per course is available. ACL Essex reserves the right to review and withdraw offers and incentives discount for ACL coursesthroughout the year.

The current discounts are as follows:

20% for all ECC staff (on production of a valid ID card)

10% discount for all Library Card holders (on production of a valid library card)

Bespoke courses for employers and businesses

Bespoke courses for employers offered by ACL will be costed and charged at a minimum of £90 per hour. Accreditation costs will be added.

Online courses

a. Maths and English online courses are free (subject to accredited course/AEB funding eligibility)

b. One hour promotional courses (e.g. languages) leading to an ACL course are free of charge.

c. A fee of £4.70 per hour will be charged for all other online courses.

Accreditation costs will be added.

We reserve the right to adjust as necessary according to market need.