Are you considering studying part-time at a university or college?

You’ve probably got lots of questions about how student finance for part-time students works.

This guide contains everything you need to know about part-time student finance, including:

  • Whether you can get student finance as a part-time student

  • What’s available to part-time students in different countries

  • Additional funding for part-time students

Can you get student finance for part-time courses?

Yes! All four UK student finance organisations offer some form of student finance for part-time students.

Of course, there are eligibility requirements for this student funding:

  • You’ll need to have lived in the UK for three years

  • You’ll need to be a UK citizen

  • You must study an eligible course at a UK university or college - most undergraduate degrees at UK universities and colleges will be eligible

  • You can usually only get student finance for your first higher education course (there are some exceptions, though - for example, this page lists courses you’ll still be able to get part-time student finance for in England, even if it’s your second course)

This financial support will be available to you no matter which UK country you study in. For example, if you’re from Wales but choose to study in Scotland, you’ll still be able to get part-time student funding.

You can also get tuition fee support if you study a part-time course through The Open University.

Course intensity requirements

To be eligible for part-time student finance, you must study a course with a ‘course intensity’ of 25% or more.

What does this mean? Compared to a full-time student, you must study at least 25% of the number of credits they study each year.

If a full-time student studies 100 credits per academic year, your part-time course will need to involve at least 25 credits each year to be eligible for a student loan.

And if you are eligible, you can usually get a loan for up to 16 years.

There are also some specific criteria by country or type of funding, which we’ve specified below where relevant.

Main types of part-time student funding

There are a few main types of funding available to help pay for your part-time course:

  • Tuition Fee loans: to pay for your part-time tuition fees. These never depend on household income

  • Maintenance funding: to pay for living costs while you study. These are often means-tested: the amount you get is dependent on household income and other factors

  • Bursaries and grants: these are free money that doesn’t have to be paid back!

How do you apply for part-time student finance?

You’ll apply for part-time student finance via your home country’s student finance organisation. Regardless of where in the UK you choose to study, you’ll apply to the student finance organisation of the country you normally live in:

If you haven’t got one already, you’ll need to set up an account on one of the above websites. Once logged in, you’ll fill out an online application, giving some information about your household income and proof of identity as part of this.

After you complete this application, people in your household will have to confirm their household income details with the student finance organisation.

When can part-time students apply for finance?

It’s best to apply for part-time student finance as early as possible, to give you the comfort of having everything sorted far in advance.

You don’t need a confirmed place at your university or college to apply - so as soon as you know you want to study a part-time course, start your application.

If you miss out on applying early, don’t worry. You can still apply up to nine months after the first day of your course.

When will I receive my part-time student finance?

Successfully applied and been approved for student finance?

Any tuition fee support (whether in the form of a loan or grant) will be paid directly to your university or college, so you won’t have to do anything for this.

In terms of living cost support, this is paid into your bank account. It’ll usually be paid in three instalments, one at the start of each term.

Other additional funding may be paid on a different schedule - we give some details where relevant later on.

Now that you’ve got an introduction to how the part-time student finance process works, let’s look specifically at what funding is available for students from each UK country.

Student Finance for part-time students from England

Tuition Fee Loan

Part-time students from England can get a Tuition Fee Loan to cover the fees of studying a UK course. 

You can get up to £6,935 per year.

  • If your tuition fees are more than this, you’ll have to cover the difference

  • If they’re less, the maximum you’ll receive is the fee amount - you won’t be paid the difference

Maintenance Loan

Part-time students from England can also get a maintenance loan to help with living costs while studying.

The amount you’ll get depends on many factors:

  • Household income

  • Course intensity - the more credits you’re studying, the more you’ll get

  • Where you live while studying: with family, outside of London and away from family or in London and away from family

If you’re distance learning, you might not be eligible for this - the part-time Maintenance Loan for English students is only for distance learning students who can’t attend in person because of a disability.

It’s hard to put numbers on what you’ll get since it varies a lot. But this UCAS article has some minimum amounts that you could be eligible for.

Student Finance for part-time students from Northern Ireland

Part-time Northern Irish students can’t get any maintenance support from Student Finance Northern Ireland to help with living costs. But there’s other support you can get:

Tuition Fee Loan

You can get a loan of up to £3,562.50 to cover the tuition fees for your course.

This depends on the fees your course charges: if your course fees are less than this, the maximum you’ll be able to get is the amount that your course charges.

There's more information about the Tuition Fee Loan on the SFNI website.

Tuition Fee Grant

The Tuition Fee Loan isn’t the only funding you could get to cover tuition fee costs. 

You could also get a Tuition Fee Grant paid directly to your university or college of up to £1,230 to cover these costs. 

Unlike all the student finance covered so far, to get this your course intensity must be at least 50% that of a full-time student - so you won’t be able to get it if you’re only studying 25% of the credits that a full-time student is. 

The exact amount you could get will depend on:

  • Household income

  • Course intensity

  • How much your course fees are

If your Tuition Fee Grant application is successful, your Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance Northern Ireland will be reduced. And since this part is a grant, it won’t have to be paid back, meaning you’ll have less to pay back overall. 😍 

There's more info about the Tuition Fee Grant here.

Course Grant

Another grant SFNI offers is a Course Grant, to help cover some of your study-related costs (e.g. any books you need and transport to lectures).

You can get up to £265 from this grant. While it’s a lot less than the funding talked about so far, you should make the most of any and all funding you can get. Especially when they’re grants that don’t have to be paid back.

The eligibility criteria for this includes:

  • Your course must have a course intensity of 50%

  • The amount you get is dependent on household income and is only available to students with a household income less than £28,067

If you’re approved for the Course Grant, you’ll receive it as one payment at the start of your course.

Student Finance for part-time students from Wales

Student Finance Wales offers quite a few forms of student finance for part-time students:

Tuition Fee Loan

You can get a loan to cover the cost of your tuition fees if you’re a Welsh part-time student. 

The maximum amount you could get depends on whether you’re studying in Wales or a different UK country and if you’re studying at a public or private university:

  • University or college in Wales: £2,625

  • Public university or college outside Wales: £6,935

  • Private university or college outside Wales: £4,625

  • The Open University: £2,625

Help with living costs

Welsh part-time students can get a mix of a loan and a grant to help with living costs.

The amount you can get in total depends on your course intensity, while the amount made up of a loan vs. a grant varies based on household income.

Let’s look at an example. If you’re studying a course with a course intensity of 25%, you can get £2,241 - any eligible students will get this amount. But the breakdown will look different depending on household income:

  • Household income less than £25,000: £741 loan, £1,500 grant (£2,241 total)

  • Household income between £25,000 - £35,000: £1,106 loan, £1,135 grant (£2,241 total)

There are other household income brackets too, but this is just to give an indication of how the breakdown between a loan and a grant could work. The idea is that the lower your household income, the more you’ll receive as a grant, meaning the less you’ll need to worry about paying back in the future. 

For eligible part-time students studying a course with a 50% course intensity, you’ll get £4,483.

Learn more about the Tuition Fee Loan and help with living costs.

Childcare Grant

If you’re a Welsh part-time student with children, you can get the Childcare Grant, to help cover childcare costs.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Have at least one child under 15 who depends on you financially (or under 17 if they have special educational needs)

  • Use a childcare provider registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW)

  • Also be receiving student finance to help with living costs

The amount you get will depend on:

  • Course intensity

  • Household income

  • How many dependent children you have

  • Your childcare costs

As a maximum, you can get 85% of your childcare costs covered, up to:

  • £189/week for one dependent child

  • £324/week for two or more dependent children

Get more information about the Childcare Grant for part-time students in Wales.

Parents’ Learning Allowance

This can help part-time Welsh students to pay for some of the extra costs you might have as a student with children.

You’ll be eligible if you:

  • Have at least one child who depends on you financially

  • Are also receiving student finance to help with living costs

You could get anywhere between £52 and £1,914 per year. The amount you get will depend on:

  • Course intensity

  • Household income

  • Your dependants’ income

  • If you have a partner or not

Here's more info from Student Finance Wales about the Allowance.

Adult Dependants’ Grant

This grant is to cover extra costs you face from being a student who has an adult who depends on you financially. 

You can get up to £3,353 a year. The eligibility criteria are the same as for the Parents’ Learning Allowance.

Get more details here.

Student Finance for part-time students from Scotland

Students from Scotland studying part-time undergraduate courses aren’t eligible for any living cost support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland, the country’s student finance body. However, there is one bit of tuition fee help you might be able to get:

Part-Time Fee Grant (PTFG)

This can help cover the cost of tuition fees as a part-time undergraduate student. 

You won’t be eligible if you earn more than £25,000 per year. The maximum amount you could get depends on the type of course you’re on:

  • Publicly-funded degree-level courses: £1,805

  • Eligible 120 SCQF credit university courses which aren’t campus-based: £1,820

  • Publicly-funded Higher National Awards: £1,274

  • Courses at private providers: £1,195

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

The DSA provides additional support for those with mental health problems, long-term illnesses or other disabilities, to help them with costs that come up directly related to their studies.

It depends on each person’s individual needs and household income isn’t a factor in how much you can get.

You can receive money to pay for:

  • Specialist equipment - this could be a special computer needed based on your disability

  • Non-medical helpers - e.g. a specialist note-taker or an examination support worker 

  • Extra costs of travel to attend your course - such as special transport that’s required to help you get to your lectures

  • Other disability-related study costs -  additional printing costs or a small fridge to store medication, etc. 

This funding can’t be used to cover any costs you would’ve had if you hadn’t been studying or any costs that any other student would also have.

Every UK country offers a DSA, but the amount you could receive each year varies by country:

  • England - up to £26,948

  • Northern Ireland - up to £25,000

  • Wales - up to £33,460

  • Scotland - up to £20,520 for Non-Medical Personal Help, up to £1,725 for Consumable Items and up to £5,160 for Equipment, Software and Accessories (this last amount is for the duration of your course, not per year)

Because you’re studying part-time, the maximum you’ll be able to get will be given pro rata based on your course intensity.

Additional funding for part-time healthcare students

There are a couple of bits of funding available to part-time healthcare students in the UK. The criteria are specific for each one, so be sure to check all the details through the links below. 

NHS Learning Support Fund (LSF)

If you’re studying one of several healthcare courses, you could get additional funding to help with the costs of study.

The full list of eligible courses is available here.

The LSF is available to any students studying an eligible course in England - not just English students.

You can get:

  • Training grant - to be used on any expenses you have

  • Parental support - if you have dependent children

  • Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses allowance - for extra costs of travel and accommodation while doing placements

  • Exceptional Support Fund - if you’re faced with financial hardship

The NHS website lists maximum amounts, but part-time students will get a pro-rata amount of the training grant and parental support, dependent on course intensity.

NHS Bursary

Part-time students can also get this to help with study and living costs, but it’s only available to Medicine and Dentistry students.

To be eligible, you have to:

  • Normally live in England (so unlike the LSF, it’s only available to English students)

  • Have been living in the UK for three years

You can only apply for this from the fifth year of a five/six-year undergraduate course - meaning it’s only available for the later stages of your studies.

You can get:

  • Bursary, dependent on household income

  • Grant - £1,000 for full-time students, reduced amount for part-time

  • Tuition fees paid for by the NHS

Here's everything you need to know about the NHS Bursary.

Repaying your student loan

At some point, you’re going to have to pay back any student loans you took out. 

As a part-time student, you’ll be eligible to start repaying your loans from the April which falls four years after you start your course. 

But you won’t repay anything unless you’re earning above the repayment threshold set by your country’s student finance organisation. And even if you’re earning over that, you’ll only pay a percentage of everything you earn over that amount. 

Our student loan repayment guide has everything you need to know.

Other ways to get money as a part-time student

Scholarships, bursaries and grants

There are millions of pounds of scholarships, bursaries and grants available to students in the UK which many don’t even know exist.

Some of these are specific to students at certain universities, while others are for students studying certain subjects (such as social work bursaries).

The eligibility criteria will vary for each one, but they all have something in common - they’re free money that you won’t have to pay back!

This means that if you’re successful in applying for any, you’ll get additional money to cover the costs of your studies, giving you more peace of mind and less stress around the financial side of your studies. 

Check out our Funding Hub, where we list many of the different scholarships, bursaries and grants that are out there. Then check out our scholarship top tips to give yourself the best chance of success when applying.

Making money alongside your studies

If you have time, there are lots of ways to make money alongside your studies.

We've listed 10 of them here that are perfect for part-time students.

Hardship funds

Hardship funds are a last resort but are there to help if you come into any sort of unexpected financial difficulty. 

Look to make the most of all other sources of funding available to you. But if you’re struggling, your university should have a hardship fund to help you out.

So that’s a whistle-stop tour of student finance for part-time students and what’s available for students from different UK countries. 

Next, check out our ultimate guide to student budgeting to learn how best to manage your money and budget as a student.

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