How much are tuition fees for part-time students?
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.
Note, the below refers to students studying a part-time degree course based on what we know for new students beginning a full-time course in the 2019/20 academic year (unless otherwise stated).
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, a full-time student would study 120 credits per year; this would be about 60 credits per year for a part-time student, though it could vary.
We go into more details about ‘course intensity’ below.
However, we would strongly recommend checking with the institution you’re applying to, to find out how much your tuition fees could be for your course.
What student finance can part-time students get?
Like their full-time peers, part-time students can get funding to help with tuition fees and living costs (though what’s available will vary depending on where you’re studying in the UK).
Note, below we talk about tuition fee and maintenance support; but there may be further support available depending on your personal circumstances (eg if you have a disability, are responsible for adult or child dependents). Learn more in our guides to student finance in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
There are some basic criteria to satisfy regardless of where you’re studying – some of this overlaps with that for full-time students, though there are some differences for part-time students:
You must be a UK resident (or have settled status); have been living in the UK for at least three years immediately before the start date of your course; and ordinarily live in the part of the UK that you're applying for funding from.
Your university/college and course
Both must qualify for student finance. The institution you’re studying at should be publicly-funded (if it’s privately-funded, your course must be approved to receive public funding).
You must be studying a ‘recognised course’ too:
- a first degree – more on this below
- a Foundation Degree
- a Certificate of Higher Education
- a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
- a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
- a Higher National Diploma (HND)
- an Initial Teacher Training course
- a postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
- an integrated master’s degree
Note, maintenance support for part-time students may only be available for some of these.
First undergraduate degree
This must be your first time studying for an undergraduate qualification. While there are some exceptions, generally speaking you can't already hold a qualification at the same or a higher level than the one you're studying. You can only get a maximum of 16 years of part-time finance.
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.
Part-time student finance in England
Part-time students in England can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan worth up to £6,935 a year, provided you’re studying at a publicly-funded university or college – essentially, this will cover your tuition fees in full.
If your university is privately-funded, the maximum loan available is £4,625. If your tuition fees are more than this, it will be up to you to make up any shortfall.
Part-time students in England can apply for a Maintenance Loan to help with living costs.
Note, students must be under the age of 60 years old on the first day of their course.
Part-time student finance in Wales
Part-time students in Wales studying at a Welsh university or college can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan worth up to £2,625 a year.
This increases to £6,935 if you’re studying outside of Wales (in the UK) – but if your university is privately-funded, the maximum loan available is £4,625.
Like full-time students in Wales, maintenance support is made of the (non-repayable) Welsh Government Learning Grant (WGLG) and Maintenance Loan (which must be repaid). Those with the same course intensity and household income will receive the same total amount – the difference being the ratio of grant to loan.
For example, those studying with a course intensity of 25% can get up to £1,500 in WGLG if their household income is £25,000 or less, with this decreasing to £250 if that household income is £59,200 or more. See more below:
Part-time student finance in Scotland
Scottish students studying a part-time Higher Education course in Scotland can apply for a Part-Time Fee Grant to help pay for their tuition fees, provided they’re studying at least 30 credits.
The maximum grant available depends on the course:
- Publicly funded degree-level course - £1,805
- Other publicly funded HE courses (eg Higher National Certificate, Higher National Diploma) - £1,274
- Private institution courses - £1,195
This Grant doesn’t have to be repaid and should cover your tuition fees entirely.
Unfortunately, there’s no financial support for living costs from the Student Awards Agency Scotland, if you're a part-time student.
Check with your institution to see what extra funding they might offer, by way of bursaries or scholarships.
If you have a disability or dependents who rely on you, you might be eligible for further support. Learn about this extra help in our guide to full-time student finance in Scotland.
Part-time student finance in Northern Ireland
Part-time students in Northern Ireland can apply for either a Tuition Fee Loan or a Tuition Fee Grant. Whichever one you can get will depend on your course intensity, with those studying at least 25% intensity eligible for the loan, and those studying at least 50% intensity eligible for the grant, too.
The maximum amounts available for each are below:
- Tuition Fee Loan - £3,206.25
- Tuition Fee Grant - £1,230
Your household income and study intensity will determine exactly how much in grant you can get (but those whose household income is over £25,420 aren’t eligible for the grant).
The grant doesn’t have to be repaid, but applying for it will reduce the amount of loan you’re eligible for.
The only support available to part-time students in Northern Ireland for living costs is a Course Grant, the maximum amount available being just £265.
How much you can get is dependent on household income, with those whose household income is below £26,029 eligible for the full amount. The grant isn’t available to those whose household income is £28,068 or more.
This doesn’t have to be repaid.
How do I apply for student finance as a part-time student?
You’ll need to apply through the student finance body in your country, whether that’s Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, the Student Awards Agency Scotland or Student Finance Northern Ireland.
You can apply online.
How do student loan repayments work for part-time students?
Repayments for part-time students work the same way as they do for full-time students from the same country, namely:
- You only start repaying your loan once you’re earning a minimum amount;
- You’ll only ever repay a proportion of what you’re earning above that minimum threshold;
- You’re charged interest from the day you receive your first loan instalment;
- Your loan is wiped after a certain amount of time.
Learn more about how repayments work in our guides to student finance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The only notable difference between how repayments work for part-time students compared to full-time students, is that repayments either kick in the April four years after you began your course or the April after you complete your course – whichever happens first.
However, this will only happen if you’re earning above the minimum repayment threshold in your country.
Now you know more about how part-time student finance works, start working out that student budget with our free calculator tool – you can see what this looks like based on your chosen university, plus tailor the costs to you.
If whatever part-time student finance available isn’t enough to cover your living costs, you can learn more about extra funding out there, as well as ways to slash your living costs and student discounts.