ELC 101: The basics
Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the ELC scheme offers currently serving or former Service personnel access to a first full level 3 or a first higher education qualification 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 these can be combined to claim ELC.
A new Publicly Funded Further Education/Higher Education (PF FE/HE) ELC was created in 2016. It’s 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 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) free from tuition fees.
- Only one ELC claim can be made in any one financial year (April to 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.
- ELC are available for full- or part-time study for a qualification at level 3 or above, as defined on the NQF or SCQF, with an organisation on the approved providers list maintained by ELCAS.
- 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.
- Withdrawal once payment has been made due to foreseeable postings/Service activities will usually meant that no further claims will be allowed.
- If unexpected Service or compassionate reasons cause your withdrawal, ELC may be carried forward for two years, or a refund may be possible and an extra ELC authorised; all cases will be judged on their merits.
The aim of ELC is to help Service leavers like you achieve your first full level 3 (or national equivalent) or first HE qualification, to assist you in your return to civilian life, or to provide assistance at a later stage for those of you who have already left in achieving a useful, nationally recognised qualification.
As competition becomes fiercer, having skills and qualifications in addition to the wealth of experience gained in the Armed Forces may give you the edge when seeking employment. All tuition fees are free, so the cost to you is time and effort.
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