For Service-leavers the Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) scheme can provide a useful fund towards the costs of undertaking approved courses.
The ELC scheme is a government-led initiative that can provide eligible Service-leavers with funding towards courses that will help them to reach their full potential once they’ve left the Forces.
The scheme is managed and administered by the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service (ELCAS) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as part of an overall commitment towards lifelong learning for Service-personnel. ELCAS provides administrative support and regulates service providers for the ELC scheme.
Eligibility and entitlements
First you must have already been registered to become a Scheme Member and have accrued a sufficient amount of Service before you can submit a claim.
If you are still Serving in the Military you must obtain a Claim Authorisation Note (CAN) from your line manager and education staff. Service-leavers who have already left can obtain a CAN from their Single Service Representative. (This should be done a minimum of 25 working days prior to your course start date/registration date.)
Entitlements for registered scheme members are calculated using your length of Service as the baseline. Once you’ve reached four years’ Service you are entitled to lower tier funding or £1,000 and after eight years’ Service this is increased to higher tier funding of £2,000. Service-leavers are entitled to make up to three claims from the funding scheme but are limited to one per financial year. If you are still Serving speak with your local Education Staff as they will be able to check your entitlement for you. (If you have left the Forces contact ELCAS as they can also make the appropriate checks.)
Only courses that are rated at level 3 or above by the National Qualifications Framework will attract ELC funding.
Making a claim
Eligible Service-leavers retain the right to submit a claim up to five years after they leave the Forces (although Service-leavers who left before the 31st March 2016 should read JSP 898 for the expiration date of claims.)
Whilst you can only make one claim per financial year (1st April to 31st March), if you have Served between six and eight years you are eligible to aggregate all three claims together. If you are claiming in the last year of your eligibility, study must commence before scheme expiry date.
The procedure is surprisingly simple with the details submitted to Education Staff on paper or by email a minimum of 25 working days prior to your course start date/registration date and simply includes your fully completed form, full information about the course that you wish to undertake (and your registration date). Once you’ve received your Claim Authorisation Note (CAN), present it to your chosen Learning Provider before the course is due to start.
According to the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service website: “Before making an application Service-leavers are advised to first check the national position on existing support with the relevant national education authority (e.g. in England BIS or SFA). There may already be existing ‘free’ provision by another route e.g. those aged 25 years or under are already entitled to a first level 3 in England; free entitlement for all who fulfil the residency requirements on degree/HND level courses in Scotland; Welsh residents also attract some support for FE and HE provision. It makes sense for SL to explore alternative routes before considering support and access through the ELC ‘top up’ scheme but there are safety measures in place to prevent any possibility of double funding.”
Selecting your learning provider
You may have an idea of the course you’d like to undertake and with which learning provider but you need to make sure that the organisation you’ve selected is an ELC approved provider.
Only organisations that have met the MoD’s criteria and become properly accredited as approved providers are permitted to run courses that qualify for ELC funding (at level 3 or above on the National Qualifications Framework/Regulated Qualifications Framework).
The ELC Administration Service (ELCAS) maintains a full list of approved providers but they will consider organisations wishing to apply for approved status if they have somebody wishing to undertake one of their courses with ELC funding. The process can take time and should be started well in advance of the course start date.
Although Service-leavers are encouraged to use preferred suppliers, the system is flexible enough that they may use the IRTC for any resettlement programme approved by their line manager and resettlement specialist.
Check the Approved Provider list on the ELCAS website: www.enhancedlearningcredits.com
Just because a learning provider is an approved organisation it may still be the case that not all of their courses are approved by MoD. Only MoD approved courses will appear on the provider’s course listing on the ELCAS website Learning Provider Search Engine.
Terms you’ll come across when looking into ELC.
You will be expected to find a 20% minimum personal contribution when using ELC towards the cost of any higher-level learning courses (level 3 and above only) you choose to undertake. The fee should be paid upfront by the claimant directly to the course provider. Any element of IRTC used to fund the learning can be claimed in advance (up to 80%) or in full or part on course completion.
IRTC – Individual Resettlement Training Costs
If you intend to leave the Armed Forces within two years you will be entitled to a grant of £534 that can be used towards the cost of training courses for your own personal development. You can also use this grant in conjunction with ELCs, either as a payment towards the cost of a course, or to finance your personal contribution.
SLC – Standard Learning Credits
The Standard Learning Credits (SLC) scheme allows Military personnel to claim up to £175 per financial year as contributions towards training and personal development costs.
(SLCs can be used in conjunction with IRTCs.)