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Support for Part-time Learners

Tuition Fee Loan - Key Facts

All eligible part-time students can now take out a non-means tested tuition fee loan to cover the costs of tuition fees, which means you won’t have to pay your fees upfront and you’ll only begin to repay the loan if you are earning more than £21,000 a year.

  • Repayments of the tuition fee loan will be 9% of income over £21,000
  • You will not see this money. It goes directly from the Student Loans Company to the University
  • The tuition fee loan is not available for Postgraduate Students
  • For eligible part-time students, your loan will cover the full cost of your tuition The amount of money you can borrow will therefore depend on the cost of your course
  • After 30 years any remaining debt is written off



How do I know if I am eligible for a tuition fee loan?

To be eligible for a tuition fee loan, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be ‘ordinarily resident’ in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course and have either been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before this date; and have ‘settled status’ – which means that you are living permanently in the UK without the Home Office placing any restrictions on how long you can stay. You are ‘ordinarily resident’ in England if it’s where you normally live, even if you live abroad on a temporary basis or move from England with your family overseas , e.g. due to an armed forces posting.
  2. Do not already hold a degree
  3. Do not hold an undergraduate qualification which is equivalent to or higher than your new chosen programme of study
  4. The course you wish to study must be a minimum of 25 per cent of the equivalent full-time course load per year (which equates to 30 credits per year)

Does my spouse or partner's income get taken into account?

The tuition fee loan is not means tested, so the amount you earn or your household income does not affect your eligibility.

Is there an upper age limit to apply for a tuition fee loan?

No – there is currently no upper age limit for applying for a tuition fee loan

If I take out a tuition fee loan will this affect my benefits?

No – Government-backed tuition fee loans for study fees in England do not count as income and therefore will not affect your benefits entitlement


When do I have to start paying back the loan?

Part-time students who start their course after 1 September 2012 begin paying back their loan once they earn more than £21,000 a year. If their income falls below £21,000 a year, repayments stop. New part-time students begin to repay the tuition fee loan in the April which falls three years after the anniversary of the start date of your course, even if you are still studying. E.g If you start studies in October 2012 then you begin to repay in the April which falls three years after October 2013. This would be April 2016, but only if you are earning over £21,000 a year.

How do I work out what the monthly repayments will be?

You repay 9% of your income above £21,000. So for example, if you earn £25,000, the 9% would only apply to £4,000, (£25,000 - £21,000 = £4,000) meaning you would repay around £30 per month. The following table shows some salaries and typical repayments.

SalaryAmount from which 9% repayment will be deductedMonthly Repayment
£21,500  500 £4 per month
£22,000  1,000 £8 per month
£23,000 2,000 £15 per month
£24,000 3,000 £23 per month
£25,000 4,000 £30 per month
£26,000 5,000 £38 per month
£27,000 6,000  £45 per month
£28,000 7,000  £53 per month
£29,000 8,000 £60 per month
£30,000 9,000  £68 per month

How do I make repayments?

Your repayments will automatically be taken out of your salary every month - you will not need to contact your bank to set up direct debit payments. Remember, if you are not earning over £21,000 a year you don’t make any repayments. If you are self-employed, separate arrangements are in place with HMRC to make your repayments.

What happens if I decide I no longer need the loan after I start my studies? Can I pay it back immediately?

Students can pay back all or some of their loan at any time without incurring an early repayment charge.

Will I have to repay my loan sooner if I withdraw from my course before finishing my studies?

If you withdraw from your course before completion, you may have to repay your loan sooner. The University will recalculate the fee due for your period of study and inform the Student Loan Company. The amount you will have to repay and when will depend on your point of withdrawal and your earnings at the time.

How long will it take me to repay my loan?

It depends on the size of your loan and how much you earn after you have finished your course. Interest is applied to your loan and so the interest rates will affect the size of your loan. After 30 years, any unpaid balance will be written off. You will get statements each year from the Student Loans Company informing you of the outstanding balance.

What rate of interest will I be charged on my tuition fee loan?

Interest on your loan will be applied at inflation rate (RPI – Retail Price Index) plus 3% while you are studying, and up until the April after you finish your course. From the April after you finish your course, if you are earning £21,000 or less, interest will be applied at the rate of inflation. For those earning between £21,000 a year and £41,000 a year, interest will be applied between RPI and RPI plus 3% on a gradual scale depending on income.

For those earning £41,000 or more, interest will be applied at RPI plus 3%.

What happens if I lose my job or take a career break?

If your salary falls below £21,000 a year your repayments stop. So, if you take a career break or a pay cut or are unemployed, your repayments will be suspended until you are earning over £21,000 again.

Do I have any control over how much I pay back every month?

You don’t have control over how much you repay each month, as when you are employed and earning over £21,000 a year it will come directly out of your salary. If you are self-employed, separate arrangements are in place with HMRC to make your repayments.

Applying for the loan

How do I go about applying for a tuition fee loan?
Student loans are managed by the Student Loans Company (SLC). Applications are made to the Student Loans Company through Student Finance England.

To apply for a loan please complete the application form* and once completed return it to Student Finance England, PO Box 210, Darlington, DL1 9HJ. The ‘Tuition Fee Loan application notes’ give detailed guidance and will help you to complete this form.

*Please note that this application form is for courses starting before September / October 2013. For courses commencing in September / October 2013 a different version of the form will be available in due course.

When do I apply for a loan - before or after I have been accepted on the course?
This can be done in either order, but you are advised not to delay submitting your course application.

If I take out a tuition fee loan, will I be credit checked?
Tuition fee loans are not subject to a credit check.

General Questions

Will loan repayments affect my ability to get a mortgage?
The Council of Mortgage Lenders has advised that a tuition fee loan is very unlikely to impact materially on an individual’s ability to get a mortgage. The amount of mortgage available may depend on net income.

Will loan repayments affect my ability to take out a loan of a different kind?
This will be a decision for the loan provider, but tuition fee loan information won’t be shared with credit reference agencies by Student Finance England.

Do I have to get a full tuition fee loan? Could I pay some through a student loan and some by other means?
You are not obliged to take out the Government-backed tuition fee loan and can choose to pay your fees upfront if you wish. If you're eligible for a Government-backed student loan, you don't have to draw on the full amount that you are entitled to and can instead opt to pay some of your fees upfront and the rest via a tuition fee loan.

Additional Help

There is limited help available for full and part time HE learners in cases of financial hardship. This help is administered directly by HLC. Please contact Financial Support on 0800 032 1986 for further details.

Further advice is available at This site provides information on the financial help available to students and it is possible to calculate an estimate of the support to which you may be entitled.

Career Development Loans:

If you cannot get support through the Student Loan Company or any other funding, you may be able to apply for a career development loan (CDL). Anyone aged 18 or over living in Great Britain and planning to work in the UK or European Union after their training can apply for a loan. To get a copy of this application, contact the CDL information line, on 0800 100 900.

Disabled Students Allowances (DSA's)

I have a disability - can I get any extra financial support?

Disabled students’ allowances (DSAs) are available to help you if you are studying for a higher education course and will incur extra costs because of a disability (including a long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia). DSAs are paid in addition to the standard student finance package and are available if you are studying on a part-time course.

They are not dependent on income and do not have to be repaid. For more information on this kind of support please visit: visit You can also contact our DSA Coordinators Annie Fish on 01432 365546 and Hannah Pickford on 01432 365546 to find out how to apply.