Working part-time while you study can help you earn extra money. But it’s also a great way to meet new people and enhance your CV. 💼

If you’re considering working part-time, you may be wondering - does a part-time job affect student finance?

We’re going to cover everything to do with student finance and working part-time, such as: 

  • How Student Finance is calculated in the UK

  • How part-time earnings may impact student loans

  • Regulations around working and student finance

  • Benefits and challenges of working part-time while studying 

How much do you get from Student Finance? 

How much you’ll get from Student Finance will depend on where you live in the UK, which student loan plan you’re on, your household income and whether or not you live at home. 

There are two types of Student Finance loans: 

Student Tuition Fee Loan

Tuition fee loans cover the cost of your course fees. The amount you receive depends on your course and the tuition fees set by your university or college. These loans are paid directly to your university, so you won't need to worry about managing the fee payments yourself. 

UK students generally pay around £9,250 per year, unless you're Scottish and studying in Scotland, in which case tuition is free. 🙌

Student Maintenance Loan

Maintenance loans help with day-to-day living costs, such as accommodation, food and transport. The amount you get varies depending on factors like household income, where you study and whether you live with your parents or by yourself. 

Maintenance loans are paid directly to you, the student, in line with the term dates set by your university or college. 

For 2024/2025: 

  • In England, the maximum you’ll receive is £13,348, and the minimum is £3,790

  • In Scotland, the maximum you’ll receive is £11,400 and the minimum is £8,400

  • In Wales, the maximum you’ll receive is £15,170 and the minimum is £10,315

  • In Northern Ireland, the maximum you’ll receive is £10,852 and the minimum is £3,938

For a full overview, see our ultimate guide to student maintenance loans

How is Student Finance calculated? 

Student finance is calculated based on the following: 

  • Household income - if you’ve got a higher household income, you’ll usually get less support from Student Finance

  • Residential status - each country within the UK has its own Student Finance department. If you’re a non-UK citizen studying in the UK, you may or may not get financial support, depending on where you’re coming from

  • If you’re living at home - generally, students living away from home will get more financial support - and those living in London may be eligible for even more 

  • The length of your degree - if you’re studying an accelerated degree, for example, you may be eligible for additional funding 

You can use this calculator to see how much student loan you may be eligible for. 

Benefits of working part-time while studying

There are many reasons you may want to work part-time while studying: 

Additional income 💰

Working part-time is one of the best ways to help with costs during university or college. It can give you a bit of extra change for groceries, rent and transport or help you enjoy a night out, stress-free. 

‘Approximately 59% of students work while attending university. 58% of working students say that they work for extra income to spend on socialising.’ - Think Student

If Maintenance Loans are enough to get you by, you could also consider using the additional money to save a bit each month. It can be a great way to get your savings going before you enter the working world. 

Learn more with our Savings Pathway

Work experience

Part-time work allows you to gain valuable work experience that can enhance your future career prospects. Any kind of work experience, whether or not related to your field of study, can help you stand out in a highly competitive job market. 

You can also look into paid internships or apprenticeship opportunities while you study. These are generally related to your degree and can help you network in your field and gain relevant experience.  

Develop soft skills

Even if your part-time work isn’t directly related to your future career, you’ll gain essential skills and experience transferable to any job. Soft skills such as time management, communication and teamwork are essential in any workplace. 

These skills can also help you succeed in your degree. For example, learning to balance work and study (aka time management) will help you become more organised overall - sometimes, having less time can make you better at managing your time.  

Meet new people

Part-time work is a great way to meet new people while you study. It allows you to expand your social networks and meet people from diverse backgrounds. 

These connections can be beneficial both personally and professionally, opening doors to new opportunities and experiences you might’ve never known otherwise.  

Does working part-time affect Student Finance? 

In general, working part-time doesn’t significantly affect Student Finance eligibility. But it may impact the amount you get - depending on how many hours you’re working and whether your job is your only source of income. 

According to GOV.UK: 

  • If you’re over 18, you can work up to 48 hours a week, as long as the average over 17 weeks is less than 48 hours a week

  • If you're under 18, you can’t work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week

Since your Maintenance Loan eligibility is based on household income, if your part-time work places you in a higher income bracket, it may affect how much financial support you get.

But you’d need to be earning a lot for that to happen. 

If you are worried about your part-time job affecting Student Finance, you could consider adjusting your work hours. This will also help you maintain a balance between work and study while maximising the loan amount you can get. 🙏

Working part-time as an international student

If you’re an international student, working part-time alongside your studies can be a great way to meet new people and gain valuable experience while living away from home. You can work part-time while you study if you’re a full-time student and you hold a valid student visa. 

However, your visa will likely have limitations on how many hours you can work in the UK. 

On a Tier 4 Student Visa, you can work a maximum of 20 hours per week while studying, if: 

  • You’re a full-time student

  • You hold a valid student visa

  • You’re completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course

  • You’re sponsored by an eligible overseas institution for short-term degree-level study in the UK 

You can work a maximum of 10 hours a week if: 

  • You’re studying for a lower qualification such as a diploma or certificate course

If you’re a part-time international student, you can’t work. 

It’s also important to note that these regulations can extend into the summer months if you choose to stay in the UK and are looking to work part-time. If you’re paying rent throughout the summer and only working part-time, assess whether it’s feasible so as not to go into debt. 

Check out our Debt pathway for more information about the risks of debt

Jobs you can and can’t do as an international student in the UK 

If you’re on a Tier 4 Student Visa, there are certain jobs you can’t do while studying: 

  • Full-time permanent job

  • Entertainer

  • Self-employed or freelance (this includes ‘gig’ economy work such as an Uber driver)

  • Initiate or partake in a business activity

  • Professional sportsperson, including sports coach

  • Work as a dentist or doctor in training, except if you’re part of a foundation programme

If you’re unsure what work you can and can’t do, contact your university or college’s Student Immigration Service. 

Are there tax implications if you’re working part-time and studying? 

Depending on how much you earn, you may need to pay income tax on your part-time work while studying.  

As a rule of thumb, if your income exceeds the annual personal allowance threshold of £12,570 you’re liable to pay income tax. Or, if your weekly earnings surpass £242, you’ll have to pay National Insurance contributions.

In the UK, the tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 of the following year. And tax returns are usually due by 31 January. 

How much tax do you pay while working part-time and studying? 

The amount you pay depends on your income. You can use the government’s tax calculator to get an estimate of how much tax you’ll pay. If you’re unsure, you can always contact HMRC.  

International students - working part-time and paying tax in the UK

If you’re an international student working part-time in the UK, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with the UK tax system. 

In the UK, there’s general income tax as well as National Insurance (NI) contributions. What you pay will depend on how much you’re earning and your residency status. 

Generally, income tax and NI will be automatically deducted from your pay. So while it’s important to know how much you’re paying, you don’t need to do anything as it’ll all be done for you by your employer. 

Challenges of working part-time while studying 

As a student, it can already feel like there are ‘no hours in the day’. What’s more, it can feel like work is the more important priority since they’re the ones signing the payslip. But it’s important to remember you’re working part-time only so that you can complete your degree

Here are some strategies to help you manage your time effectively:

  • Create a schedule for your work and uni hours - include exam and assignment dates, how much time you need to study a day, etc.  

  • Set realistic goals - for both work and study to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Break large tasks into smaller, manageable steps and set deadlines to stay on track 

  • Communicate - Keep communication with your employer open and honest. They know you’re a student and hopefully will be understanding and flexible 

  • Make time for self-care - Balancing work and study can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Take breaks, try to avoid those 3am library sessions by planning ahead and ask for time off if you need it  

  • Seek support - Don't hesitate to seek support if you're feeling overwhelmed. Talk to friends, family members, counsellors or university support services if you’re struggling

Student finance and working part-time - FAQ

Do I need a part-time job while studying? 

This depends on your individual financial situation and personal preferences. While some students may find it necessary to supplement their income with part-time work, others may just focus on their studies. 

If you have help from family, for example, you may not need a part-time job - but you may still want additional pocket change, or want to gain work experience before graduating. 

Tip: At the start of the year, tally all the income you’ll be getting from Student Finance and other bursaries or grants. Then, list all your anticipated outgoing costs. You can judge based on your incoming vs. outgoing expenses whether or not a part-time job while studying would be helpful. 

How many hours can I work while studying? 

The number of hours you can work depends on factors such as age, visa status (for international students) and any restrictions imposed by your uni or college. 

Generally, UK students over 18 can work up to 48 hours a week during term time. But you may want to check with your university or college directly to understand any limitations or guidelines around part-time work.

Can I do cash-in-hand work while studying? 

If you’re an international student especially, it may be tempting to do cash-in-hand work to avoid visa regulations. But, don’t! Under UK immigration law, it’s illegal to work without proper documentation or not declare your income. So, this could impact your visa status and cause you to lose your place at university or college. 

Do I need to declare my earnings?

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to declare your earnings to HMRC through the self-assessment portal. If you’re employed, you don’t need to self-report. Always check with your university or college if they have specific regulations around working while studying just to be sure. 

Does my part-time job affect other additional funding? 

While working part-time alongside your studies won’t prevent you from getting Student Finance, it may impact your eligibility for additional financial support such as scholarships.  

For some scholarships, bursaries and grants there are income thresholds that determine your eligibility. Be sure to familiarise yourself with these thresholds if you’re looking to apply for additional funding.

How can I find a part-time job while studying? 

There are lots of ways to find part-time work while studying. Check job boards, your uni or college career services, network with classmates and lecturers and pop into businesses in person, on campus or in your area. You can use sites like Indeed, Upwork, Fiverr or LinkedIn jobs. 

Some of the best part-time jobs for students will be ones that offer flexibility. It’s important you’re able to work around your course schedule as that’s your primary focus. 

For more, read ‘10 ways to make money as a student’. 

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