#career development loan
A student’s guide to career development loans
A dults who want to take vocational courses to improve their career prospects and earning potential, but who are put off by a lack of funding, might consider a government-subsidised Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL).
PCDLs are loans, available through participating banks Barclays and the Co-operative, of between 300 and 10,000, available to learners aged 18 to 69 to help with the cost of taking any approved full-time, part-time or distance learning course which will lead to employment, or boost an existing worker’s skills. Many are taken by graduates embarking on a master’s degree.
The attraction of PCDLs is that the Young People’s Learning Agency (ypla.gov.uk ) pays the interest on the loan while the student is studying, and for one month afterwards. The student only starts to repay the loan to the bank after they finish their course, and then at a fixed interest rate over a period (one to five years) agreed when they first took out the loan.
Interest rates are set so they are competitive with most commercially available unsecured personal loans.
The rate on offer from both banks is 9.9% per annum. But because the first year or two’s interest is paid for the student by the YPLA, this works out as equivalent to a typical APR of 5%-6% over the lifetime of the loan. PCDLs can be used to fund a wide range of courses lasting up to two years (or three years, if the course includes a year of work experience). The course doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a qualification, but it must be one that will help with your career. Approved courses include, for example, master’s degrees, technical or management training, a professional qualification or an additional bachelor’s degree if you’re already a graduate.
You can use a PCDL to help with course fees – up to 80% of the total, or up to 100% if you’ve been unemployed for three months – and other course costs, such as books, travel and childcare, plus living expenses, including rent, food and clothing if you are unemployed or working less than 30 hours per week.
You cannot get a PCDL to help with costs covered by other sources of public funding. So, for example, you can’t get one if you’re planning to study full time for a first degree. But if your costs are only partly covered you may be able to top up the funding with a PCDL. For example, if you’re getting a grant for your course fees, you could apply for a loan to help with living costs.
You can’t use a PCDL to help pay for the Graduate Diploma in Law, otherwise known as the Common Professional Examination, or CPE; careers advice or help with job hunting, or the costs of running or starting a business.
Advice and an application pack are available if you call the information line on 0800 585 505, open Monday to Sunday, 8am to 10pm, or visit direct.gov.uk/pcdl for details.