Written by Sean Maguinness

Marketing Executive

Phil Davis, Head of Student Support at Bishop Grosseteste University, and also Chair of the SLC’s ‘Bursaries Administration Group’, as well as a member of the SLC’s ‘Operations Group’, and ‘HE Advisory Group’, explains what Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) is, including: 

  • What is LLE? 
  • When does LLE come into effect? 
  • Which courses will be in scope for LLE?
  • What will providers have to do to account for LLE? 
  • Will course design have to change to account for the LLE?

Please note that all information is potentially subject to change.

What is LLE?

Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) is a new initiative the government is reviewing to offer learners a loan equivalent to four years of post-18 education to use up until the age of 60. 

The details of LLE are still being developed, but many questions are being raised about how Higher Education Providers (HEPs) need to prepare for a funding system that is more modular and dependent on credit value.

When does LLE come into effect?

LLE is due to launch in the academic year 2025/26 for new students and students with previous studies looking to start a new course who are ordinarily a resident in England. 

While one of the selling points of LLE is the way it can be used to fund modular courses as well as full-time courses, modularity won’t be required for degree courses until the academic year 2027/8. 

The SLC also realises that there could be courses, especially those with public sector regulatory bodies behind them, that may never be able to move over to the modular approach, such as medicine, initial teaching training, architecture and veterinary science.

Will LLE replace the current SFE funding package?

For new students, the LLE will replace the current HE Student Finance System, as well as the current Advanced Learner Loan (ALL) system. 

LLE is being created to be a provision for level 4-6 study and, because of this, will combine the funding that has been available for the ALL and the funding available under the current tuition fee loan, and replace both. 

However, there are still aspects of the SFE funding package which will remain the same:

  • Maintenance loans and other similar dependence grants will continue to run alongside the LLE
  • The ALL will still exist for Level 3 study
  • The LLE will still be subject to Plan 5 repayments

There are also plans to include an ‘Information and guidance’ section in students’ personal accounts to advise them on how best to allocate their LLE over their journey of study.

Over the age of 60

Despite the ‘lifelong’ part of LLE, students over the age of 60 will not be eligible for this funding. 

The only exception would be a scenario in which a student starts a full-time course at 59 and turns 60 during the full-time course. In this case, it will not disrupt their LLE. 

However, in the case a 59-year-old student enrols on a modular course using LLE in their first year and then comes to enrol on the second year of their study (now 60) on another modular course, they would need some sort of additional support as in this case, they would no longer be eligible for LLE funding.

What are the eligibility rules for returning (continuing students)?

Students continuing and transferring will remain on the current regulations for Higher Education Students Forecast (HESF) and, therefore, will not move onto the LLE. 

But, students who choose to take a gap in their studies, like deferring students, will move to LLE. For example, if a student could have started their course in 2024/25, but chose to defer until 2025/26, they will move to the LLE arrangements.

This will be an important message to pass on to applicants as universities and HE providers move towards the 2024/25 recruitment cycle.

Which courses are in the scope of the LLE funding?

All courses that are currently funded under SFE undergraduate regulations will be in the scope of the LLE funding as well as: 

  • Integrated Masters 
  • Foundation years
  • PGCEs
  • 5-6 year courses

These courses will all be classed as ‘Specialist Years’. 

‘Specialist Subjects’ will also be in scope for LLE funding, and will be the same as the standard exemption list outlined in the current regulations, such as medicine, initial teaching training, architecture and veterinary science. In addition, some of the ALL-funded Level 4-6 courses will be included. The confirmation of which ones are due to be announced in early 2024 for the Further Education (FE) sector.

Which courses, in the scope of the LLE, will attract maintenance support? 

Maintenance loans will remain available under the LLE in the same way that they are available to designated courses under the current system. 

Do Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) rules still apply to courses in the scope of LLE? 

No equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) rules will apply. Meaning if a student already holds a Level 6 qualification, they will still be able to study elements of Level 4, and Level 5 modules with no barrier on the LLE. 

However, the idea of ‘previous study’ still applies to students on LLE. In other words, a student’s eligibility for future LLE will still be weighed up according to how much funding they have received for their previous studies. 

Are distance learners in scope for the LLE? 

Distance learning rules are remaining as is under the LLE, but apprenticeships will not be in scope. 

What will providers have to do to account for LLE? 

Are there changes to the course information required? 

LLE is dependent on credit value, which means how much LLE a student is eligible for is based on how many credits of study they are taking within a certain time period. 

There is potential for a new version of Course Management Service (CMS) to be introduced, where credit value will need to be provided in order to work out a student’s entitlement.

Moving from ‘academic years’ to ‘course years’

Due to entitlement being assessed on credit value, regulators are moving away from the concept of an ‘academic year’ to a ‘course year’. 

A ‘course year’ is the period in which a student will undertake 120 credits worth of study. The minimum amount of credits needed to be eligible for LLE is 30, so in a case where a student was to use 30 credits a year for four calendar years (25% each year), the ‘course year’ would be equivalent to four calendar years. 

Other additional information may be needed but has not yet been confirmed.

When will SLC need course information?

As of November 2024, the new version of CMS will launch to account for the administrative changes that will come with LLE. As it currently stands, the proposed title for this new CMS is “Courses and Provider Service” (CAPS).

There will no longer be a distinction between full and part-time courses with LLE, as with modular applications, it means study starting and stopping at different times throughout the year.

Will HE providers need to upload both courses for continuing students and courses for LLE for English-domiciled students? 

Yes, the existing CMS will run alongside the new version of CMS being created for the LLE. For staff teams managing applications in England, this could mean managing two CMS systems simultaneously.

However, because the LLE is only for England, CMS will continue as is for students from the home nations (students from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).

Will course design have to change to account for the LLE?

Do I have to modularise all my courses? 

Providers will not need to offer any modules separately from their parent course. They will have the freedom to choose which courses and modules they offer. The Government has set out the criteria for modules to be eligible for funding as part of its LLE Consultation Response.

Are credits required only for modules? 

Credits will determine fee limits and loan entitlements under the LLE – so credits are fundamental to how the LLE works. 

LLE is based on cost per credit, and providers will only charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per 120 credits. 

HEPs will be able to charge up to 180 credits in one academic year but only to facilitate accelerated courses, equating to £13,875.

Can a module be designed to be stand-alone? 

No, it must form part of a designated course. As long as that requirement is met, a student can access LLE for a minimum intensity of 30 credits – and that can be made up of a number of smaller modules (e.g two 15 credit modules) as long as they are part of a designated course. 

However, any additional study a student decides to undertake also needs to meet the minimum threshold. So if they only took an additional 15 credit module, they would need additional funding.

Three categories for courses on the LLE

As of 2025/26, any HE course will fit into one of the following three definitions created by the SLC. 

  1. Fixed – this is seen as the ‘as is’ provision, for courses that will continue being delivered before the introduction of LLE. 
  2. Default – for courses and subjects that don’t easily fit the credit value required for LLE, like courses classed as ‘Specialist Courses’ or ‘Specialist Subjects’. These courses will be classed as ‘non-credit bearing’ and will have a default value of 120 credits for the LLE. 
  3. Flexible – any course will be a modular arrangement: anything from 30 credits to 180 credits in a calendar year will be allowed for the LLE.

More info

All the information in this blog is on policies that are still evolving and subject to change. 

Download the slides from the CPD-accredited staff training webinar on the LEE here.

Find more info about LLE at:

If you would like to submit your own queries regarding LLE, you can send them to fundinginformationpartners@slc.co.uk or contact your local SLC account manager. 

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