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Funding your learning

If you're a carer and haven't had a paid job for a long time, you may want to take a training course to learn new skills or improve your existing ones.

Some carers and former carers worry if they can afford to pay for a training course and the other costs associated with it, such as travel or childcare. However, there are many ways you can learn for free.

Learning for free

Many literacy and numeracy courses that teach or improve basic skills are free. Tuition fees for most courses leading to your first qualification equivalent to a GCSE or A level are also free. BBC Learning offers free online learning in basic skills and other courses. You can find out about English, maths and IT courses on GOV.UK.

Professional and Career Development Loans

You may also be eligible for a Professional and Career Development Loan. These are bank loans of between £300 and £10,000, which help you pay for learning that enhances your job skills or career prospects. For more information, read our page about Help getting work.

Other funding

Tuition fees aren't the only costs you'll have to consider when planning on taking a training course. Even if your tuition is paid for there may be other costs, such as examination fees, course registration fees, travel and childcare. You may be able to get help with these from the following sources:

  • Discretionary support fund, which is given at the discretion of the college and can be used to cover costs such as equipment, tuition fees or childcare.
  • Trust funds (grants from charities), such as Family Action or Turn 2 Us.
  • Care to Learn, which can help with childcare and travel costs if you're under 20.

For more information about what funding you may be eligible for, contact the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900.

Studying while being a carer

Barbara is a full-time carer for her autistic children. Watch how she keeps an outside interest by studying with the Open University.

Media last reviewed: 05/08/2013

Next review due: 05/08/2015


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

mdme Ping said on 11 January 2011

I joined a university as a carer of a terminal ill mother. When there came a hospital appointment and I went to the pastoral officer to ask for mitigating circumstances she suggested that Ithere was no movement for mitigation becuase I knew I was a carer when i enrolled. and I said I enrolled parttime but your universtiy rules forced me into full time for no really good reason plus why is there no ability to miss one lecture and catch up - and this is becuase of the last Govt's encouragement of vast numbers of students who didnt turn up to lectures but lived on their loans a mature student who needs to work to support my loved one why am I penalised for the govt's inability to strike non attending students off the loan system and allow mature students who will need work in the future and so will make every real effort to attend , feel second class?

Apparently in order to accomodate teh inability of young people to do concentrated end of term work /study, most degrees are now cut up into bitesize bits of work which means there is no way of missing and catchign up...well not if you are not really an able student adn perhaps that is the matter in reality...we give out loans on the basis of those never having had a degree, but do not emphasise how lucky they are, whereas a carer is penalised for being someone who shows civil duty to their loved one...

carers and those returning to work from care shoujdlbe given automatic mitigation.

Or otherwise swop my place with the lazy student and give me their full loan and grants please...

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Page last reviewed: 09/04/2014

Next review due: 09/04/2016

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

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Media last reviewed: 17/07/2013

Next review due: 17/07/2015