Part-time Student Finance 2021
Student Finance can seem like rocket science, and it's even more complicated for part-time students. Let us guide you through what funding you can get, and how you can get it...
Up until recently, there was a real lack of funding for part-time students. Fortunately, the tide is turning and, in 2021/22, England and Wales are offering significant maintenance and tuition support for part-time students.
Scotland and Northern Ireland also offer part-time Student Finance, although not quite as much as elsewhere in the UK, and the funding is mostly focused on tuition.
Hold tight, as we're about to explain everything you need to know about part-time Student Loans.
What's in this guide?
Eligibility criteria for part-time Student Loans
As with most aspects of part-time Student Loans, eligibility criteria vary depending on where you live in the UK. That said, there are some conditions that you must meet no matter where you live:
- You must be a UK or Irish citizen or have settled status.
- You must have been living in the UK for at least three years immediately before the start date of your course.
- You must ordinarily live in the part of the UK that you're applying for funding from. Note that the Student Finance organisation you apply to is determined by where your permanent home is and not where you're studying. So if you live in England and are going to a Scottish uni, you apply to Student Finance England.
Now, we say you 'must' meet these conditions, but really these are just the residency criteria you need to meet if you want to be sure of receiving funding.
If you don't meet some of these criteria, you may still be able to apply (if you're a refugee, for example). Check out the website of your Student Finance body for full details.
Part-time Tuition Fee Loans and Grants
Part-time tuition fees are usually calculated based on the number of modules that you'll be studying compared to a full-time student. For instance, if the full-time equivalent of your course contains eight modules per semester, and you're studying four per semester, you'll be charged 50% of the full-time fees per year.
Financial support to help you cover your tuition fees will vary drastically depending on where in the UK you live. However, wherever you live, the funding will always be paid directly to your university, and not to you.
Scroll down to find out what funding you can apply for, based on whereabouts in the UK you are from.
Part-time Tuition Fee Loans – England
|You're studying part-time at a...||Maximum Tuition Fee Loan available|
|Public university or college||£6,935|
|Private university or college (with a TEF award)||£4,625|
|Private university or college (without a TEF award)||£4,500|
In England in 2021/22, the annual cost of tuition for part-time students at a public university is, at most, £6,935 – in other words, your loan will cover your tuition fees in full. Remember that if your fees are lower than £6,935, you will only receive a loan for as much as your fees are.
At private unis, the annual cost of tuition could exceed the maximum Tuition Fee Loan available. If that's the case for you, it'll be down to you to make up the difference.
If you're unsure whether your university is public or private, don't worry – most UK universities are publicly funded. However, if you want to make doubly sure, we'd recommend contacting your university to check.
And, if you know your uni is private but don't know if it has a TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) Award, this page lists all the institutions that do.
Part-time tuition fee support – Northern Ireland
If you're a part-time student from Northern Ireland, you have the option of applying for two different types of tuition fee support – but only if your course meets the intensity requirements (how much longer it takes to complete compared to the full-time equivalent).
To be eligible for a part-time Tuition Fee Loan in Northern Ireland, your course must be at least 25% as intense as the full-time equivalent course. However, to apply for a part-time Tuition Fee Grant the requirements are much stricter – you must be studying at 50% intensity or higher.
Part-time Tuition Fee Loans for students from Northern Ireland
In 2021/22, assuming your course meets the intensity requirements outlined above, you can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £3,397.50, or however much your annual fees are – whichever is lower.
If you're also receiving a Tuition Fee Grant, this will reduce the size of Tuition Fee Loan that you're eligible for (but don't let this put you off applying for a grant – grants don't need to be repaid, so you should apply for as large a grant as possible!).
Bear in mind that Northern Irish tuition fees are capped at £4,530/year for full-time courses, so it's unlikely that your part-time tuition fees will exceed £3,397.50 if you study in Northern Ireland – and if they do, it shouldn't be by much.
That said, part-time tuition fees in the rest of the UK can be much, much higher than £3,397.50. So, if you study outside of Northern Ireland you may end up having to cover the remaining amount yourself.
Part-time Tuition Fee Grants for students from Northern Ireland
|Household income||50% – 59% intensity||60% – 74% intensity||75% or more intensity|
|£16,842 or less||£820||£985||£1,230|
|£16,843 – £25,420||£50 – £770||£50 – £935||£50 – £1,180|
|£25,421 or more||None||None||None|
As well as needing to meet the course intensity requirements, you must also meet some household income requirements if you want to apply for a Tuition Fee Grant in Northern Ireland.
If your household income is £16,842 or less, you'll be eligible for the highest possible grant for a student on a course of your intensity. However, if you have a household income of £25,421 or more, you won't be eligible for any Tuition Fee Grant – regardless of your course intensity.
If your household income is between the lower and upper thresholds, you'll receive a partial Tuition Fee Grant based on a sliding scale down to a minimum amount of £50.
Again, those with a lower household income will receive a larger sum, so the £50 grant is given to those at the very top end of this band (students with a household income of £25,420).
Part-time Tuition Fee Grants – Scotland
|You're studying for a...||Maximum Tuition Fee Grant available|
|Publicly-funded degree level course||£1,805|
|Eligible 120 credit, non-campus-based university course||£1,820|
|Publicly-funded Higher National award (HNC/HND)||£1,274|
|Course at a private provider||£1,195|
Unlike the rest of the UK, Scotland doesn't offer part-time students Tuition Fee Loans – it only offers Tuition Fee Grants, which don't have to be repaid.
How much you're eligible for depends on the type of course that you're studying, and how intense your studies are. The SAAS (Student Awards Agency Scotland) measures intensity by the number of credits you do each year compared to a full-time course.
To save you from needing to do the maths yourself, the SAAS provide a handy calculator on their site. All you need to do is select your qualification type and enter the number of credits you'll be doing, and the calculator will tell you the amount of Tuition Fee Grant you're eligible for. Simple as!
As tuition fees for Scottish students in Scotland are capped at £1,820/year, your part-time Tuition Fee Grant should cover the cost of your tuition in full if you study in your home region.
However, if you go to university in a different part of the UK, the tuition fees would be higher, so the grant might not be enough to cover the full fees.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and part-time funding for students from Scotland
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SAAS has changed the application process for part-time Fee Grants. They're asking students to apply via their university. There should be info on how to do this on your uni's website but, if you're unsure, contact them or SAAS directly.
However, they have said on their website that this should not have an adverse effect on funding and that the rules surrounding eligibility will not change.
Part-time Tuition Fee Loans – Wales
|You're studying at a...||Maximum Tuition Fee Loan available|
|Public Welsh university or college||£2,625|
|Public university or college in the rest of the UK||£6,935|
|Private Welsh university or college||£2,625|
|Private university or college in the rest of the UK||£4,625|
|The Open University||£2,625|
Part-time Tuition Fee Loans for students from Wales vary depending on the type of institution that you're studying at, as well as where that institution is.
In the case of students at public Welsh universities and colleges, The Open University and publicly-funded universities in the rest of the UK, your Tuition Fee Loan is intended to cover your fees in full.
If you're studying at a privately funded UK university or college outside of Wales, your part-time Tuition Fee Loan may amount to less than your total fees for the year. In this case, you'd need to fund the remaining amount yourself.
Maintenance Loans and Grants for part-time students
While all parts of the UK offer some kind of tuition fee support for part-time students, the maintenance support (designed to cover student living costs like rent and food) on offer are far less consistent.
Part-time Maintenance Loans – England
Part-time Maintenance Loans in England are calculated as a percentage of the amount that a full-time student in the same circumstances (where you live and study) would receive.
For context, here's how much Maintenance Loan full-time students receive based on their individual circumstances (note: the household incomes are just examples – the amount you receive is on a sliding scale based on income, not by bands of income):
|Household Income||Living at home||Away from home (outside London)||Away from home (London)|
|£25,000 or less||£7,987||£9,488||£12,382|
Note that the figures in bold represent the upper household income thresholds for each type of student: £58,220 for those living at home, £62,286 for those living away from home and outside of London, and £70,004 if you're living away from home and in London.
If your household income exceeds the upper threshold for a student with your living arrangements, you'll receive the minimum loan in that category (adjusted for part-time students, of course).
How part-time Maintenance Loans are calculated for students from England
Part-time Maintenance Loans are calculated as a percentage of the full-time loan, based on the intensity of your studies. However, it's not an exact percentage – instead, intensities of study are grouped into bands, and the lower end of the band determines how big a loan you receive.
This table explains how big a Maintenance Loan you can expect, based on the intensity of your studies:
|Intensity of study||Maximum part-time Maintenance Loan (% of full-time amount)|
|Less than 25%||None|
|25% to less than 33.3%||25%|
|33.3% to less than 50%||33.3%|
|50% to less than 66.6%||50%|
|66.6% to 75%||66.6%|
|75% to less than 100%||75%|
So, to calculate roughly how large a part-time Maintenance Loan you're entitled to, look at the first table and find the living/studying situation relevant to you, and the household income closest to yours.
Use the second table to establish your band of study intensity, and apply that to the amount you took from the first table.
For example, let's say you're a student in London, living away from home. Your household income is £45,000/year, and you're studying at 55% intensity.
As a full-time student, you'd get £9,620 in Maintenance Loan, but as you're studying at 55% intensity, you're in the 50% band – meaning you'd get a part-time Maintenance Loan of £4,810 (50% of the full-time amount).
Part-time Course Grants – Northern Ireland
|Household income||Course Grant available|
|£26,029 or less||£265|
|£26,030 to £28,066||Partial grant between £50 and £265|
|£28,068 or more||None|
Maintenance support for part-time students in Northern Ireland is, unfortunately, pretty scarce. The only money on offer comes in the form of a Course Grant which has its fair share of positives and negatives.
On the plus side, a Course Grant is at least a grant – that is, it doesn't have to be paid back. However, as it's only intended to cover some of the costs entailed by studying (like necessary equipment and travel to placements), the full amount is fairly small.
What's more, you'll need to be studying at 50% (or higher) of the intensity of the full-time course to be eligible for the grant, and have a household income of below £28,068.
Part-time maintenance support – Scotland
The SAAS (Student Awards Agency Scotland) currently offers no form of maintenance support to part-time students. This is far from ideal, but if you're a part-time undergraduate from Scotland, don't panic!
While your funding body doesn't provide any financial support, your university might. If you think you'll need some funding, be it in the form of a grant or a loan, contact your university directly to see if they offer any additional support.
If you're still hitting a dead-end, check out our guide to bursaries, scholarships and grants – this has everything you need to find extra funding.
Part-time Maintenance Loans and Grants – Wales
Part-time Maintenance Loans and Grants in Wales work in a similar way to Student Finance for full-time students.
Students with similar circumstances (in this instance, intensity of studies) will receive the same amount of money. The only difference is how much of the sum is a loan (which must be repaid) and how much is a Welsh Government Learning Grant (WGLG) (non-repayable).
The proportion of loan versus grant is determined by your household income, with students from wealthier backgrounds receiving a smaller percentage as a grant, and those with lower household incomes receiving larger grants.
Unlike in England, the intensity of study isn't grouped into bands – instead, your course's study intensity compared to the full-time equivalent will be the exact percentage of the 'full' amount (£7,640). In addition, there's no variation in the amounts on offer based on living arrangements.
Note, however, that the 'full' amount isn't the same as the maximum amount a full-time student can receive as a Maintenance Loan.
Here are guidelines of the amount of Maintenance Loan and Welsh Government Learning Grant you could receive as a part-time student based on your course intensity:
Maintenance Loans and grants for students from Wales with 25% course intensity
|Household income||WGLG||Maintenance Loan||Total|
|£25,000 or less||£1,500||£410||£1,910|
|£59,200 or more||£250||£1,660|
Maintenance Loans and grants for students from Wales with 50% course intensity
|Household income||WGLG||Maintenance Loan||Total|
|£25,000 or less||£3,000||£820||£3,820|
|£59,200 or more||£500||£3,320|
Maintenance Loans and grants for students from Wales with 75% course intensity
|Household income||WGLG||Maintenance Loan||Total|
|£25,000 or less||£4,500||£1,230||£5,730|
|£59,200 or more||£750||£4,980|
Remember that the above tables are guidelines and the amount you'll receive will be based on the percentage of your course intensity.
So if, for example, you're studying at 52% intensity, your overall package would be 52% of the 'full' amount (£3,972.80, which is 52% of £7,640). The proportion of WGLG and Maintenance Loan that you'll receive will be determined by your household income.
How to apply for a part-time Student Loan
While the specifics of part-time Student Finance vary massively from full-time Student Finance, the application process is pretty much exactly the same.
As ever, you just need to apply through your relevant funding body (remember: it's based on where you normally live, not where you'll be studying) before the deadline.
The only difference is that the application window typically opens a little later than for full-time students, usually sometime in early summer as opposed to the spring.
For a rundown of everything you need to know, check out our guide to applying for Student Finance.
Repaying a part-time Student Loan
Like the application process, the repayments on part-time Student Loans are also the same as the full-time equivalents.
We go through the details in full in our guide to understanding your Student Loan repayments, but here are the main things to remember:
- There are three types of undergraduate Student Loans: Plan 1, Plan 2 and Plan 4. Where you're from and when you started uni will determine whether you have a Plan 1, 2 or 4 Student Loan.
- Although the repayment structures for Plan 1, 2 and 4 loans are different, they have one thing in common: they're all very manageable. You'll only ever repay 9% of your income over a threshold (£19,895 for Plan 1, £27,295 for Plan 2 and £25,000 for Plan 4), and if your income falls below the threshold, you stop repaying. In other words, if you earn more, you repay more; if you earn less, you repay less.
- You don't start repaying your Student Loan until the April after you graduate, and even then you must be earning over the repayment threshold.
- Student Loan repayments don't affect your credit score, meaning they won't have a significant impact on your ability to get a mortgage. We say 'significant', as they will be factored into your affordability rating – a score that measures your monthly incomings and outgoings (of which Student Loan repayments are one) and decides whether you can actually afford to make the mortgage repayments. However, as the repayments are a small percentage of your income, the impact will be minimal.
- Your Student Loan debt will eventually be written off. How long this will take depends on whether you have a Plan 1, Plan 2 or Plan 4 loan, but it'll be around 30 years after you first become eligible to repay (the first April after you graduate). The year it's written off is unaffected by how much or how little you've repaid.
- There's a good chance that you'll never repay your Student Loan in full. In fact, it's estimated that 83% of students with Plan 2 loans will have at least some of their loans written off.
- Keep up with updates to your loan's T&Cs, but try not to stress too much about changes to the interest rate on Student Loans. As the debt is so big, and the repayments are so small, increasing the interest rate just adds more money to a sum that you're unlikely to repay anyway.
- As the terms are so favourable, you should really think long and hard about whether it's worth repaying your Student Loan early (spoiler alert: it probably isn't!).
Hoping to work alongside your part-time degree? Have a read of these tips on how to balance a job with your studies.