Part-time undergraduate student finance questions and answers


16th Sep 2016



Applying for funding for a course is something that many part-time undergraduate students find intimidating, and it’s a topic that almost everyone has questions about during their enrolment.

In this week’s blog we answer some of the most common questions we receive about part-time student finance.

Please note: The information in this blog only applies to undergraduate students. For information about postgraduate student loans, visit our student loans page.


Who funds part-time study for students?

Tuition fee loans are available to part-time students in England. The funding is provided by Student Finance England who provide financial support on behalf of the Government to students in higher education. The loan does not depend on your household income and you can apply for an amount to cover all or some of your fees with University of Essex Online. Once approved and you’ve started your course, the loan is paid directly to us on your behalf.


How do I qualify for a part-time student loan?

For students living in England – You will usually be a UK national (or have ‘settled status’) living in England, who has been a resident in the country for at least three years before the start date of your course. The course you want to study must be taught in the UK and lead to a recognised higher education qualification, which our awards do. It must also be taught at a speed of at least 25% the rate of a full-time programme which, as a minimum, our part-time degree courses are. Currently, only undergraduate students at the University of Essex Online can apply for a student loan.

For students living in the EU – You may be eligible for help towards the cost of your undergraduate tuition fees if:

  • you are an EU national or a family member of an EU national
  • you have been living within the European Economy Area (EEA) or Switzerland for the three years immediately before the start of your course
  • your main reason for being in the EEA or Switzerland is not to receive full-time education

Please see our student loans page for more information regarding eligibility requirements for EU students.


Is there an age limit to applying for a part-time student loan?

No, there is no upper age limit to applying for a tuition fee loan but you cannot normally have earned a degree already or have a higher level of qualification such as a Masters or Doctorate. Funding is for your first degree only.


Will taking out a part-time student loan affect my credit score?

Although you may be borrowing a significant amount to cover the cost of your part-time degree, the student loan is repaid through the income tax system and does not go on your credit file. The loan is only repaid if you earn over a certain amount (currently £25,000 for undergraduate student loans) and the amount you pay back rises as your earnings rise and stops if you are out of work or earn less than the threshold. In practice, it works more like a graduate tax than a conventional loan where you are committed to making repayments no matter what your financial situation is.


Will taking out the loan affect other benefits I receive?

No, the tuition fee loan is not income based so any other benefits you receive, such as Job Seekers Allowance or Council Tax Benefit, will not be affected.


What if I apply for a part-time student loan but don’t start the course?

Your student loan is not activated by Student Finance England until you start your first module, so if you change your mind or decide to delay your studies we will not drawdown the loan. However, if you leave the course before completing your degree, any loan paid out by Student Finance England up to that point will need repaying in the same way as if you had completed the course.


How will I make part-time student loan repayments?

You will begin making repayments automatically through the PAYE system, or through self-assessment if you are self-employed, four years after the start of your part-time degree course or the April after you leave your course, whichever happens first. As mentioned earlier, you will only make repayments on your undergraduate student loan if your income is above £25,000.


Are there any other sources of funding for part-time study?

Some part-time students may be able to get funding from their employer, especially if the degree is going to be beneficial to your role. If you are self-funding, we do offer the option to pay per module or per level of your degree course. This allows you to spread the cost of your degree across several payments making it more manageable for you.


Want to learn more? Visit our student loans page.