Support for part-time students

If you are a part-time higher education student, you may be eligible for a grant or a tuition fee loan to help towards the cost of studying.

Grant support for part-time students

If you are a part-time higher education student and studying at least 50 per cent of a comparable full-time course, you may be entitled to a grant towards your fees and course costs.

Your right to a grant will depend on your income and that of your husband, wife or partner. There is no age limit for this support. Student Finance NI will work out how much grant you can get. You will not have to repay this help. Your college will be able to tell you if your course qualifies.

If you already have a degree you can't normally apply for this support.

Fee grant

In 2018-2019 there are three different rates of fee grant depending on how intensive your course is:

Course intensity Maximum fee grant
Less than 60 per cent of the full-time course £820
Equal to 60 per cent to 74 per cent of the full-time course £985
Equal to 75 per cent or more of the full-time course £1,230

Course grant

In 2018/2019, the maximum course grant is £265 and does not depend on how intensive your course is.

Fee loan

If you are studying at least 25 per cent of a comparable full-time course,  you may also be eligible for a tuition fee loan of up to £3,120 to help towards the cost of your fees.

The Fee Loan can’t be more than the actual fee charged by your university or college. The maximum amount of Fee Loan entitlement in any academic year will be reduced by the amount of Fee Grant you get in that academic year.

The Fee Loan isn’t based on household income and is repayable.

Part-time students attending higher education elsewhere in the UK

If you normally live in Northern Ireland you can apply for the part-time student financial package of a means tested fee grant of up to £1,230, a course grant of up to £265 and a fee loan of up to £3,120 regardless of where you are studying in the UK. If you receive a fee grant, the level of fee loan available will be reduced in line with this.

If you wish to do a Higher Education part-time course including Open University courses elsewhere in the UK, you may be charged up to £6,750 in tuition fees. You will therefore have to financially make up the difference between the support available and the tuition fee charged by the Higher Education Institution.

Students should check the level of part-time tuition fees with the relevant Higher Education Institution.

Who qualifies

To apply for the Fee Grant, Course Grant or Fee Loan, both you and your course must be 'eligible'. For part-time study, this means your course must:

  • last at least one year
  • be a higher education course leading to a qualification such as a Certificate or Diploma of Higher Education, an HNC or HND, or a first degree up to Honours level (for example, a BA or BSc)
  • in the case of the fee grant and course grant, not take more than twice as long to complete as the comparable full-time course
  • in the case of the fee loan, not take more than four times as long to complete as the comparable full-time course. 

However, you will not qualify for the Fee Grant, Course Grant or Fee Loan:

  • if you already have a degree from a UK university or college
  • if you are studying a part-time Initial Teacher Training course (you will be treated as a full-time student for student finance purposes)
  • for more than one part-time course at a time

The standard rules on fee and course grants apply if you live and study in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland and go to Wales, Scotland or England to study, the amount of help you receive may vary. The maximum part-time fee loan available for 2018-2019 is £3,120, regardless of where in the UK you study. Contact your university, college or local Student Finance NI office for more information.

More about financial support for part-time students

Further information on what financial support is available to part-time students in academic year 2018-2019 will be available in the summer.

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