Quick guide to fees and finance for part-time students
Good news! Part-time students can also get a Tuition Fee Loan and maintenance support, like their full-time peers.
However, things work a little differently, with credits and course intensity playing a key factor, as you'll see.
Because part-time courses are designed to be flexible and allow you to study at your own pace, you'll typically pay per credit studied (ie for each module completed) rather than per year, as is the case for full-time students.
Tuition fees for part-time students
Universities will usually refer to tuition fees for part-time courses on their websites and in their prospectuses in this way, too. As a point of reference, Ucas state that a course of 30 points or credits in a single academic year is usually equal to 25% of a full-time course.
Check with the university you’re applying to, to find out how much your tuition fees could be.
Can part-time students get a Tuition Fee Loan?Yes! Part-time students – including Open University (OU) students – don't have to pay any tuition fees upfront. You can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan. This isn’t-means tested so the amount you receive won't depend on your household income.
However, you must meet the following criteria first:
first undergraduate degree: this must be your first time studying for an undergraduate qualification. While there are some exceptions (such as if you're studying nursing or a PGCE), generally speaking you can't already hold a qualification at the same or a higher level than the one you're studying. If you’re not sure, check with your uni.
- course intensity: your course has to have a 'course intensity' of 25% or more to be eligible for the Tuition Fee Loan. This means that for each year of your part-time course, you have to be completing at least 25% of what you would be if you were studying the same course on a full-time basis. The course can’t take any longer than four times the time it would take to complete the course if studied full time (up to a maximum of 16 years).
How much is the Tuition Fee Loan for part-time students?Based on 2018/19 information, part-time students can get a Tuition Fee Loan of up to:
- £6,935 a year if you’re studying at a publicly-funded university or college (essentially, up to the maximum cost of your tuition fees);
- £4,625 if your university is privately-funded.
The chances are your uni is publicly-funded (this basically just means that it gets money from the government). Only five unis in the UK aren’t and would be classified as privately-funded:
- University of Buckingham
- Regent's University London
- University of Law, Guildford
- BPP University, London
- Arden University
There’s a possibility it will cost more than your Tuition Fee Loan will cover to go to a private university. If this is the case, it’s up to you to make up the shortfall.
To keep things simple, the Tuition Fee Loan is paid directly to the university.
Learn more about fees and finance at university.
Maintenance Loan for part-time studentsPart-time students can apply for a Maintenance Loan to help with living costs while studying (eg accommodation, travel, course costs).
Like full-time students, how much you can get will depend on where you live and study, your household income and your course intensity. Like your Tuition Fee Loan, your course intensity must be at least 25%.
How much maintenance support you can get as a part-time student -
Tip! It will be really handy if you know your course intensity or the number of module credits you’ll achieve in a single year, when applying for student finance.
Your Maintenance Loan for the year will be paid in three instalments, directly into your bank account, at the start of each term. You’ll need to register at your university in the first week of your course before you can get your first payment (so you might need to budget for any immediate living costs or expenses, while you wait to get this).
Are there any grants available?You should speak to your university about any scholarships, bursaries or fee waivers they offer, especially those for part-time students.
What's on offer will vary between institutions, as will the criteria that these are based on, such as your academic ability, financial circumstances, whether you have a disability or any dependants who rely on you etc.
You never know what you could get until you ask!
How do loan repayments work for part-time students?Generally speaking, student loan repayments work the same way for part-time students, as they do for full-time students with repayments beginning the April after you graduate and only once you're earning over a certain amount.
Check out our regional guides for student finance in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to learn how and when you’ll pay back your loans, the interest you’ll pay and when they expire.