Fees Policy

Wooden figures stand in a circle together

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.

Due to the devolution of AEB funding to the Greater London Authority and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, learners that reside in postcodes in these areas are no longer eligible for the ESFA funding that ACL operates under. In these instances, we will signpost learners to the provision that they are eligible to access. If they prefer to undertake a course with ACL, full cost recoverable charges will apply.


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, including those with bilateral agreements such as Switzerland, or have settled status or the Right of Abode in the UK, and
  • have been ordinarily resident in the EEA or other countries determined within the EEA, including those with bilateral agreements such as Switzerland, for at least the previous 3 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 3 years before the start of learning.

The above information has been taken from the ESFA funded adult education budget (AEB): funding and performance management rules 2019 to 2020 Version 3


Courses which lead to a qualification (accredited courses)

  1. Learners who are eligible for full funding from the ESFA 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 ESFA. Full eligibility criteria is available on request.
  2. Learners who are eligible for co-funding as specified by the ESFA will be funded at a rate of 50% 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.
  3. Learners who qualify for no funding will pay 100% of the fee as set by the ESFA. In this instance ACL draws down no funding from the ESFA – the learners pay for the full fee but may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan depending on the course undertaken.

Accredited courses that are not eligible for any funding such as, for example, First Aid, will be charged a course fee from £6.70 per hour plus the cost of qualification accreditation (exam fees) We reserve the right to amend fees to reflect market rates on courses that are not eligible for funding.


Financial help for course fees

ACL offers limited financial assistance from a Discretionary Learning Support Fund (for those aged 19+) to assist with cases of hardship related to, for example, childcare (for those aged 20+) and transport, according to ESFA regulations. Find out more about financial support.



No fee is charged to learners undertaking an apprenticeship. Employer contributions will be charged in line with ESFA guidance and the levy/non levy government policy taking into account market rates.

Levy paying employers are those with an annual payroll greater than £3m. Such employers pay a government levy of 0.5% of their annual payroll. This money is used to support their own apprenticeship schemes.

Non-levy employers are all those employers who have annual payroll costs below £3m. They are not subject to government levy contributions but are encouraged to take on apprenticeships which are predominately funded by government funds.


Accredited courses (those leading to a qualification) at Level 3 and above.

Fees will be set at funding rates advised by the ESFA. 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.


Courses for people with learning disabilities

  • Made up of small discrete classes for adults with learning disabilities which lead to the achievement of personal goals.
  • Provision also includes courses for learners with specific difficulties including mental ill-health, stroke and head injury, sensory and physical impairments.
  • Provision is delivered in main centres, outreach accommodation including day centres, care homes and secure hospitals.

a. The non-accredited supported learning fee rate is £3.20 per hour.
b. Non EU and non-eligible learners will pay £8.75 per hour.


Family Learning

Courses that you the opportunity to learn together to build strong relationships, develop new skills and raise aspirations for all the family. The courses available include English, English for speakers of other languages, maths, steps into pre-school & nursery, school readiness, steps into secondary school, online safety, understanding children and managing behaviour. All classes are free.


Courses which do not lead to a qualification (Non-Accredited Learning)

  • The standard fee rate per hour is £6.10
  • The benefit rate is 50% of the standard rate i.e. £3.05 per hour
  • Non-EU and non-eligible learners will pay £8.75 per hour

ACL reserves the right to use a formula-funded approach where applicable in accordance with ESFA guidance.

A non-accredited and supported learning bursary fund of £10,000 in total will be made available to distribute to learners to assist with learning resources, childcare and travel in cases of exceptional financial hardship.


Full cost classes 

Full cost programmes are not government funded and will be charged at an hourly rate of between £8.75 and £10.50. We reserve the right to amend fees to reflect market rates. There is no concessionary fee on full cost classes. Minimum numbers of learners on courses will apply to ensure these courses remain financially viable.

Inclusive rates are available for groups of learners who wish to undertake the same full cost course. The inclusive group fee is £100 an hour and is not subject to class size. This inclusive fee includes refreshments and biscuits.


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

At the discretion of the Principal ACL, specific and targeted discounts or incentives may be agreed and marketed throughout the year.


Bespoke courses for employers and businesses

Bespoke courses for employers, businesses and charities offered by ACL will be costed and charged from £100 per hour per cohort of learners. Accreditation costs (exam fees) are not included. Refreshments and lunch can be arranged at an additional cost.


Online courses

  • Maths and English online courses are fully funded (subject to accredited course/AEB funding eligibility)
  • One hour promotional courses (eg languages) leading to an ACL course are free of charge.
  • A fee of £6.75 per hour will be charged for all other online courses.

Accreditation costs (eg exam fees) are not included.