Fees Policy

This page outlines the fee policy for Adult Community Learning (ACL) Essex for the 2020-21 academic year. To download the full guide click here.

Wooden figures stand in a circle together


This policy outlines the fees and charges for Adult Community Learning (ACL) Essex for the 2021-2022 academic year, and is aligned to the strategic aims and priorities of the service to:

  • Ensure that ACL is fit for the future
  • Create great places to live, work and learn
  • Provide a high-quality learning experience
  • Provide a curriculum that adds social and economic value

Fees and charges relate to our learning and apprenticeship programmes, room hire, nurseries, pre-schools and salon treatments.

To ensure compliance with any mandatory changes imposed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Essex County Council may be required to amend course fees within the academic year.

ACL’s primary source of income is from the funding received from the ESFA to deliver programmes of learning, to residents and businesses across Essex, including in some instances, its borders. In addition, learners pay fees towards the cost on some of the courses. Full cost and non-government funded provision may also be available.

ACL is on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and able to deliver apprenticeship provision to both Levy and Non-Levy employers.


Content of this document:

  1. Types of Programme
  2. Eligibility
  3. Payments
  4. Financial Support
  5. Refunds and Cancellations
  6. Nursery and Preschool Fees
  7. Salon Treatments
  8. Room Hire

Annex. A provides further explanation of the terms, course levels and acronyms used in this document.

Annex. B provides the Eligibility Criteria for ESFA funded courses

Information on exams and apprenticeship end point assessment can be found in the ACL exams policy


Types of Programme

  • Accredited Learning (Courses which lead to a qualification)
  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.
  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.

Learners who do not qualify for 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 the full fee.  Learners may be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan to cover the cost if the course is at level 3 or above. See 3.2.

Learners on accredited courses that are not funded by the ESFA (full fee) will be charged a course fee from £9 per hour plus the cost of qualification accreditation (exam fees).

The above fees apply to both classroom based and online courses.

Eligibility criteria for funding can be found in Annex B.


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

  • The standard fee rate per hour is £6.30
  • For adults on certain benefits, and/or a gross annual income of less than £18,525 per annum the rate per hour is £3.15 (50% of the standard rate) see Annex. B.
  • For adults with learning difficulties (supported learning) the rate per hour is discounted to £3.30 with no further concessions
  • Non-eligible learners as defined in the ESFA funding guidance will pay £9 per hour

The above fees apply to both classroom based and online courses.

Non-accredited courses that are not funded by the ESFA (full fee) will be charged at £9 per hour


1.3 Community engagement programmes and projects

In each academic year ACL will offer programmes and projects that meet a particular social or economic need within Essex. These courses will be free to participants. Programmes and projects may include, family and community-based learning, Social Prescribing and Get Back into Work.


In addition, ACL may deliver specially commissioned programmes and projects throughout the year which are funded by either Essex County Council or an external organisation or body. Courses are free to participants unless otherwise stated in the course information.  Programmes and projects include: Mental Health Recovery, The Nightingale Bursary and You Can! (NHS funded programme)


1.4 Taster sessions

Throughout the year ACL may run short taster sessions of an hour or less for promotional and engagement purposes including ‘Learn at your Leisure’ programmes. These sessions will be free of charge to the participant.


1.5 Short courses (non-accredited)

Throughout the year ACL may run short introductory courses for promotional and engagement purposes. These will be new courses that last no longer than 3 hours and will cost £10 to the participant with no concessions.


1.6 Apprenticeships

No fee is charged to apprentices undertaking an apprenticeship programme. All employers must pay towards the cost of the apprenticeship training.  Using an agreed formula, a negotiated price for each apprentice will be agreed between the employer and ACL prior to the commencement of the apprenticeship programme.  The cost for each apprenticeship will be detailed in the Employer Agreement and Apprenticeship Commitment Statement, which is signed prior to the commencement of an apprenticeship programme.  Pricing bands can be located on our website Employers – ACL Essex


Levy Paying Employers

Levy paying employers are those with an annual pay bill greater than £3m. These employers pay a government levy of 0.5% of their annual payroll. The levy is accessed via their Digital Apprenticeship account and is used to pay for the apprenticeship training. Levy paying employers who have exceeded their levy allocation are still able to access apprenticeship funding and will pay 5% of the agreed cost for any new apprentice not covered by their levy – the remaining 95% will be funded by the ESFA.


Levy Transfers

Levy-paying employers can transfer a maximum amount of 25% of their annual funds. They can make transfers from their apprenticeship account to as many employers as they choose.  Transferred funds will be used to pay for the training and assessment cost of the apprenticeships agreed with the receiving employer and ACL.


Non-Levy Paying Employers

Non-levy employers are those who have an annual pay bill of less than £3m. These employers will contribute to the cost and pay a co-investment fee. This will be 5% of the negotiated price of each apprenticeship.  The remaining 95% will be funded by the ESFA. Funding is secured through the Digital Apprenticeship Service.  Availability of funding for non-levy employers is subject to the amount made available from the ESFA.


Additional qualifications within an apprenticeship

Where an additional non-mandatory qualification is requested and delivered as part of the apprenticeship the employer shall be liable for any additional costs.  This will be agreed prior to commencement of the programme.


1.7 Bespoke courses for employers, schools and charities

Bespoke courses will be costed and charged from £100 per hour. Accreditation costs (e.g. registration or exam fees) are not included and may incur an additional charge. A Bespoke Course Agreement will be completed by ACL and the organisation and a 10% non-refundable deposit will be required to secure the course booking. Full payment of the course will be required 14 days before the planned start date. Where the course is due to be delivered within 14 days of booking, full payment will be required at the time of booking.

A reduced rate of £85 per hour will be applied to charities and volunteer groups.

Refreshments and lunch can be arranged at additional cost.


1.8 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

A reduced rate of £300 will be applied for ESOL learners who enrol on and study both the reading and writing components of the course at the same time.



To receive funding from the ESFA for courses, learners will need to satisfy the eligibility criteria as specified in the ESFA funding rules.

All learners must meet the residency criteria to be eligible for funding. A learner must be one of the following:

  • A UK national or other person with right of abode* AND lived in the EEA (including the UK) for at least the last 3 years
  • An EEA national in the UK must have obtained either pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme# AND lived in the EEA (including the UK) for at least the last 3 years
  • Other non-UK nationals with eligible immigration status (see additional guidance)

Evidence of eligibility will be collected and made available for ESFA audit

*Persons with the right of abode have the right to live and work in the UK. All British citizens have the right to abode.

#Evidence of settled status can be either a copy of the settled status decision letter or the learner can provide a ‘share code’ so the settled status can be viewed on GOV.UK

See Annex B more more details.

Due to the recent devolution of AEB funding in some areas of the UK, learners that reside in postcodes within these areas are no longer eligible for the ESFA funding that ACL Essex operates under (this does not include apprenticeships). 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 Essex, full fee charges will apply.


For those unable to make a payment in full at the time of enrolment, several payment options are available.


3.1 Direct Debits and Instalment Payments

Direct Debits

Direct debits are available on courses with a fee of £100 and above. Learners must complete a Direct Debit Mandate and pay the 35% deposit at the time of enrolment.  The balance is paid on a monthly basis by direct debit over the duration of the course.  The number of instalments depends on the length of the course.

Apprenticeship co-investment payments can be made by direct debit.  The monthly amount will be agreed with the employer prior to the apprenticeship start date. Any outstanding balance will need to be settled prior to the apprentices End Point Assessment.

Instalment Payments

In exceptional circumstances e.g. hardship, an individual may request to pay for their course in instalments. An affordable instalment plan will be agreed prior to the start date of the course.  This request will be approved by the relevant Centre Lead.

Pro-rata payments to attend only part of a course are not permitted.

Missed Payments

If a payment is missed, learners will not be allowed to attend their course again until payments are up to date.

If an apprenticeship payment is missed, the apprentice could be removed from their programme.

Learners deciding not to return to the course and who have paid by direct debit, advanced learner loan or instalment payment arrangements, are still liable for payment of the full course fees.

Fees that remain outstanding will be invoiced to learners or employers by ECC finance.


3.2 Advanced Learner Loans

Where a learner is not eligible for ESFA funding, an Advanced Learner Loan may be applied for.  Eligibility does not depend on an individual’s income and there are no credit checks.  The course undertaken must be at level 3 or above to qualify.

Information including how to apply can be found at https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan


Financial Support

Financial assistance could be available for childcare and transport costs or to provide IT equipment and books for study. To be eligible, learners must have either a gross household income of less than £30,000k per annum (not including house shares, or where rent is paid separately) or a personal gross income of less than £18,525 per annum. Full details can be found in the Financial Support Guidance document on our website or on request.  https://aclessex.com/funding-support/