What Are Career Development Loans and How Do You Apply?

Those applying for work-related or vocational courses may be guided towards Professional and Career Development Loan funding. How does this work?

If you are planning to take courses or training aimed at improving your prospects of getting work or boosting your career path, then you may qualify for funding under the UKs Professional and Career Loan (CDL) program. How do these loans work, who is eligible, what kinds of study will qualify and how do you apply?

How Do Career Development Loans Work?

CDLs are basically commercial bank loans that are supported by the Young Peoples Learning Agency (YPLA). They are designed to give funding to particular types of vocational or career specific study or training. Participating banks, such as Barclays and The Co-operative Bank, lend between £300-£10,000 to qualifying students for courses lasting up to two years, although this can be extended to three years if a course has a years work experience built-in.

Borrowers will not have to repay any part of their loans whilst they study as the YPLA will cover interest payments during this period and for up to one month after a course ends. At this point, you will then take on responsibility for repaying your loan according to the agreement set out by your lender.


There are certain rules on how you can use your money. Funding can, for example, only go towards up to 80% of fees (unless youve been unemployed for three months), certain course costs such as books, travel and childcare, and living expenses (if you are unemployed or not working more than 30 hours a week).

Are You Eligible for the CDL Program?

There are some criteria that you will have to meet before you can apply for this funding. You will, for example, need to be:

  • Aged 18+.
  • A resident who is settled in the UK (for at least three years before the course starts).
  • Planning to work in the UK, EU or EEA.

Meeting these conditions is not, however, a guarantee that a bank will give you a loan. Youll also have to meet their application criteria. The course you are taking may also impact on whether you qualify or not.

What Kinds of Courses and Training Qualify for Career Development Loans?

The study you undertake must be targeted at developing your career, work or vocational skills and the college or learning provider you want to apply to must be on the Professional and Career Development Loan Register. Typical courses include postgraduate degrees such as MBAs, technical or management training, diplomas or N/SVQs or professional qualifications.

How Do You Apply for Professional and Career Development Loans?

Although you apply for a loan to a participating bank, youll need to get a special application pack from Next Step (tel: 0800 100 900) before submitting it to the lender. This service can also hook you up with an advisor via email or a booked phone call if you have any questions about funding or your planned course of study.

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