SDS Individual Learning Accounts (ILA)

Get up to £200 towards the costs of learning or training with an SDS Individual Learning Account (ILA).

What will you do with up to £200 for learning or training?

Graphic showing pound sign and arrows around it

You could use the money to build up your skills to get a job. Or learn something new to take your career in a different direction. Whatever you want to do, there is a wide range of courses on offer, all over Scotland.

And because it’s not a loan, you don’t need to worry about paying it back.

Sounds good? Check if you’re eligible below, and find out how to apply. Then when you receive your ILA number, you can book a course.

Am I eligible?

Use our eligibility checklist to find out. To apply, you must be:

  • a British citizen;


  • a national of a member state of the European Economic Area who has utilised their ‘right of residence’;


  • settled within the United Kingdom within the meaning of section 33(2A) of the Immigration Act 1971.  You are only eligible for support if you are ‘settled within the UK’. If you are in Scotland on a temporary student or work visa then you are not entitled to SDS Individual Learning Account funding. 'Settled' means being both ordinarily resident in the UK, and without any immigration restriction on the length of your stay in the UK. 'Settled' can include those with Indefinite Leave to Remain/Enter and those with Refugee status. You do not have 'settled status' if you have a time limit on the length of your stay in the UK, as shown by your current immigration permission. For example, those with 'Limited Leave'.


  • You must be ordinarily resident* in Scotland.
  • Aged 16 years or over
  • Have an income of £22,000 or less, or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit
  • Not hold a UK degree or postgraduate qualification or overseas equivalent
  • Not enrolled in any form of secondary, further or higher education
  • You are considered to be in secondary education until the date you leave school
  • You are considered to be in further or higher education from the date you enrol on your course
  • You can’t use ILA to fund any part-time course that is already funded by the part-time fee grant
  • If you’re participating in training through the Employability Fund or Modern Apprenticeship, or participating on the Community Jobs Scotland programme you're not eligible for ILA.

Please note: If your application for ILA funding is successful, you will be unable to apply for a Student Awards Agency For Scotland (SAAS) Part-Time Fee Grant for the duration of your ILA learner year.

If you have previously opened an Individual Learning Account and wish to renew it, we will need to confirm your continued eligibility. To find out more contact us on 0800 917 8000.


Apply now

Fill in your details below, and we'll send you an application pack. 

If you're renewing an existing ILA, or you'd prefer to speak to someone, call the helpline on 0800 917 8000.

Email notifications

Did you know you can reduce the time it takes for us to let you know the outcome of your application by registering to receive account notifications by email? Simply select email as your contact preference, enter your email address and follow the simple instructions on the email we will send you. At the moment, we are unable to send you an application pack or any course booking tokens by email.

What do I do next?

When you receive your application pack, read through it carefully. Then complete the application forms and return them to us. Once your ILA is set up, we’ll send you a welcome pack to tell you how to use it. You’ll also receive your ILA number, which you’ll need to book your course.  It is important that your funding is in place prior to the course start date, as the SDS ILA scheme rules do not permit us to pay retrospectively.

How to book your course

Have you received your ILA number? Then it's time to book a course.

Here's how it works. You'll follow this process every time you use funds from your ILA:

Check your course

First, check that your learning provider is registered with ILA, and that the course you want is eligible. You can’t use your ILA funds for courses which are not listed in the ILA database. Use the Learn and train search to find eligible courses, or call the ILA helpline on 0800 917 8000 to check before you book.


Enrol for the course and tell the provider that you want to use your ILA funds to help pay for it. Give them your ILA number.

Your details go in

The learning provider will enter the details of your chosen course on the ILA system, which will reserve the money required in your account. It won’t actually be paid out until you’ve started the course.


We’ll send you confirmation of the course details and a statement showing how much of your account will be used to pay for it. You’ll also receive a learning token, which you must keep safe until the course begins.

Pay the balance

If your ILA funding doesn’t cover the full cost of the course, pay the learning provider any balance you owe.

Hand in your learning token

Give the learning token to your learning provider when you attend the first class. If it’s a distance learning course, send the token to the provider when you’ve received your learning materials and are happy with them. This is confirmation that you’re happy for your ILA funds to be paid towards the course.

Your funds are paid

The learning provider will put the details on to the ILA system, and the money reserved in your account will be paid to them.

Asylum Seekers

If you have any restrictions on taking up employment or seeking benefits in the UK, then you may not be eligible to make an application. If you’re not sure, please supply a photocopy of your most recent Home Office documentation (or stamp on your passport), confirming your status to remain in the UK, along with your application.

Forces Personnel

Under the temporary non-resident arrangements, forces personnel are treated as being resident at the establishment where they are based. If they are ordinarily resident* in Scotland but are serving overseas, they would be eligible.

*Ordinarily resident means that you live in Scotland year after year by choice, apart from temporary or occasional absences such as holidays or business trips. Living here totally or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education may not count as being ordinarily resident. If you are not a UK national, you must be settled in Scotland (as set out in the Immigration Act 1971) immediately before the date on which you made your application.


You can request a translation of our application pack and welcome pack in audio CD format, Braille, large-print format or the following languages:

  • Chinese (Cantonese)
  • Gaelic
  • Hindi
  • Polish
  • Punjabi
  • Urdu

If you have a disability or any special requirements and would like additional help, please contact the ILA helpline on 0800 917 8000.

You can email us at Please note, we’re unable to answer account related queries by email. If your question is about your account balance, learner year end or the status of your application please call the helpline.

We have a Textphone (for customers who are deaf): 0141 573 4883