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ELC 101: getting started

ELC 101: getting started


25 Jun, 2021

There are several stages to the ELC process. Full details are set out in Joint Service Publication 822 (JSP 822).

How does it work?

You must be a registered scheme member and have accrued sufficient service before submitting a claim for ELC. If you are still serving, speak to your local education staff; if you have already left the Forces contact your Single Service Representative (SSR) – click here to find out how. Appropriate checks can then be done before you are issued with an online account. Note that you may access your member account only if you have been sent an email to confirm the logon email and password provided by the appropriate MoD authorising personnel. Again, all out-of-Service personnel should contact their respective SSR.

Once your member account has been set up, log on to the ELCAS website to search for an Approved Provider and course. Once you have found an approved course you would like to apply for, simply log in and submit your claim.


At the end of your chosen course, you must complete a course evaluation when requested, as further claims cannot be processed until any previous course evaluation has been completed.


Any ELC claimants who are attending courses or intending to do so are requested to comply with current government guidance. If a learner must self-isolate, then all efforts will be made to offer an alternative option, but you must ensure you notify your appropriate MoD authorised personnel. In such cases it is recommended you refer to the cancellation and reinstatement guidance found on the ELCAS FAQs page.

What kind of course can you take?

Subject to certain eligibility criteria – click here to find out the details – the ELC scheme offers currently serving or former Service personnel access to a first full level 3 (GCE A-level or vocational equivalent), or a first higher education (HE) qualification (e.g. a foundation degree or a first undergraduate degree or equivalent) free from tuition fees. Here’s the basic information you need to know …

  • The ELC lower tier offers up to three payments of up to £1,000 in three separate financial years; the higher tier offers up to three payments of up to £2,000 in three separate financial years. The three separate years do not have to run consecutively, and may be a combination of both higher and lower levels.
  • ELC may be claimed for the same learning course if it continues for more than a year, or for a different learning purpose each year.
  • If one course combines with others for a single learning purpose they can be combined to claim ELC.
  • There is also an aggregated lower-tier award, which is a single payment of up to £3,000 for those with six or more years of qualifying service, which will count as all three awards.
  • The Publicly Funded Further Education/Higher Education (PF FE/HE) scheme provides Service leavers and Service personnel in their qualifying resettlement phase with access to a first full level 3 or a first HE qualification (a foundation degree or a first undergraduate degree or equivalent) with support towards tuition fees.
  • ELC are available for full- or part-time study for a qualification at level 3 or above, as defined on National Qualifications Framework/Regulated Qualifications Framework (NQF/RQF),* or level 6 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), with an organisation on the Approved Providers list maintained by ELCAS on its website


  • AS and A-levels
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma 
  • Advanced Apprenticeship 
  • BTEC Diplomas, Certificates and Awards 
  • BTEC Nationals 
  • OCR Nationals

Claiming and your contribution

  • Only one ELC claim can be made in any one financial year (1 April to 31 March).
  • You must make a contribution to your learning of at least 20% of the cost (the ELC element includes VAT, but excludes travel, accommodation, food, books and materials). 
  • You must discuss your plans with your line manager and education adviser before making any financial commitment.
  • You may not claim ELC for Service training, civilian accredited Service training (unless at least 30 hours extra work is involved, together with a separate exam, assessment or assignment), membership fees, books and materials, normal Service sport and adventurous training.

What if you need to withdraw from a course?

Withdrawal once payment has been made due to foreseeable postings/Service activities will usually mean that no further claims will be allowed. However, if unexpected Service or compassionate reasons cause your withdrawal, you should seek advice from your education staff or learning adviser.

Are you eligible?

All Regular Service personnel (SP) currently in service will be auto-enrolled on the ELC scheme, as will future SP on completion of their Phase 1 training.

The qualifying service required for both ELC lower-tier and FE/HE awards increased from four to six years as of 1 April 2017. If you had already accumulated four years’ qualifying service before 1 April 2017, you keep your entitlement to use ELC lower-tier award and FE/HE.

You can start claiming when you have accumulated the necessary qualifying years of service. For example, if you registered on the ELC scheme and have been serving since 1 April 2000, you will have been entitled to start claiming at the £1,000 level from 1 April 2004 and at the £2,000 level from 1 April 2008.

In brief …

To take advantage of ELC support, you must:

  • have completed four years of full-time service or, since 1 April 2017, six years
  • have joined (or, since April 2016, been automatically enrolled) on the scheme and completed four years’ (or, from 1 April 2017, six years’) qualifying scheme membership
  • apply only for a first eligible FE/HE qualification at the level for which you are academically qualified to enter learning on leaving the Service
  • have left the Service or entered your qualifying resettlement phase on or after 17 July 2008 
  • meet UK residency requirements to qualify for full state subsidy.

Medically discharged?

Special eligibility criteria apply if you were medically discharged from service before achieving the required number of years’ service. If this is the case, please seek advice from your unit education staffs.

What if you are made redundant?

Whether or not you applied to be made redundant, you will cease to accrue service for ELC eligibility on the day you leave. If you have accrued six or more years’ service since registering on the scheme by your last day of service, you will still be eligible to claim ELC at the lower tier (£1,000). If you have accrued eight or more years’ service since registering on the scheme by your last day of service, you will be eligible to claim ELC at the higher tier (£2,000), subject to meeting the other conditions associated with the scheme.

No longer serving?

If you have already left the Service or are in your resettlement phase, you may be eligible to claim under the terms of PF FE/HE scheme. For full details and to check the detailed eligibility rules, visit the ELCAS website

Find out more

Much more detailed information is available in JSP 822, which can be downloaded from the ELCAS website

Useful contacts

Need to know more? Here’s who can help …

For general enquiries about the scheme, eligibility and qualifications, seek advice from the following single-Service education and resettlement staff in the first instance, not ELCAS.

  • RN: RN/RM Education and Resettlement Officers (EROs), Learning and Development Officers (LDOs) and Naval Resettlement Information Officers (NRIOs) at RN/RM Learning Centres. Education and Resettlement Staff seeking further clarification of sS instructions should contact SO3 EL3R, at ‘NAVY TRG HQ-LDO POL RESET ELC’ (Mil: 93832 5954)
  • Army: Individual Education and Resettlement Officers (IEROs) and Learning and Development Officers (LDOs), at Army Education Centres, which must be used by SL on resettlement. Education and Resettlement Staff seeking further clarification of sS instructions should contact the relevant SO2 Retention and Resettlement in Regional Command (RC): RC-Pers-ETS-N-RetResSO2 or RC-Pers-ETS-SRetResSO2
  • RAF: Personal Learning Advisors (PLAs), and Resettlement and Education Coordinators (RECs) at RAF Learning Centres. Education and Resettlement Staff seeking further clarification of sS instructions should contact SO3 Accreditation and Education Wing at ‘22TrgGp-CTSAndEWg-SO2’ (Mil: 95751 6888)

* Although the NQF has been replaced by, first, the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) and subsequently the RQF, national standards and qualifications remain defined within the nine levels of the NQF, which is still referred to in JSP 822. Further details of the different qualification frameworks and levels can be found in JSP 822, downloadable from the ELCAS website

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