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Funding Information for Part-Time Students 2017/18

This page contains funding information for Part-Time Students in higher education in 2017/18.

The Student Finance system changed in September 2012. Students who started their part-time course in 2011/12 or earlier are still protected under the old system of funding. Whereas students who started their part-time course in 2012/13 or later are assessed under the new regulations. We have therefore included information for both 'old system' and 'new system' students below.

If you would like any further details on any of the information here, please contact the Student Financial Guidance Team.

STUDENT FINANCE: ‘Old System’ students (started course in 2011/12 or prior)

This section gives information for students who began their current course prior to September 2012, when the student finance system changed. The information is also relevant to students who are undertaking a part time ‘top-up’ degree programme immediately after completion of a part time Foundation Degree, HND or similar. Please contact Student Financial Guidance Team if you require further clarification of this.

Students on part-time undergraduate courses which involve the study of at least 60 credits a year (or are 50% of a full-time equivalent course) can apply to Student Finance England (SFE) for a tuition fee grant and a grant of up to £288 for other study costs.

The part-time course should last no longer than twice the length of time it would to complete a full-time equivalent (FTE) course (6 years for a 3 year FTE, 8 years for a 4 year FTE)

Students who already have a degree or other ‘equivalent or higher level qualification’ are not eligible for this funding.

The maximum fee grant available will depend on the ‘intensity of study’:

  • Students studying 50-59% of a FTE course can receive up to £879
  • Students studying 60-74% of a FTE course can receive up to £1,054
  • Students studying 75% or more of a FTE course can receive up to £1,321

The grants are income-assessed – taking into account the student’s and their spouse’s/partner’s gross taxable income, but not that of a student’s parents.  Students in receipt of means-tested benefits (i.e. Income Support, Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit) qualify for the full grants.

If the income level of a single student with no children is less than £16,845 they receive the full grants.  If a student has a spouse/partner and/or children this income level is raised by the following amounts:

  • £2000 for spouse/partner;
  • £2000 for the eldest dependent child;
  • £1000 for each further dependent child.

For students who entered Higher Education from academic 2005-2006 it does not matter what the age of the student, their partner’s income is taken into account in assessing the fees and study grant.  For students who entered H.E. prior to September 2005, the income of a partner will be taken into account only if the student is aged 25+.  The definition of ‘partner’ includes a same-sex co-habiting partner.

Where the assessable income is more than the appropriate threshold, the amount of fees grant, then £288 course grant, is reduced by tapers dependent on the income level.

Continuing students, who applied for part-time funding last year, will receive an email in August 2017 with a short application form (PTGC). Continuing part-time students who wish to apply for finance for the first time need to complete a full application form (PTGN). Once you have completed the application form, you will need the University to complete a section of the form to confirm that you are enrolled and attending the course, and how much the fees are, before submitting the form to SFE. New students cannot submit the form until you have been registered and have attended the course for at least 2 weeks. Please note: all students must now apply to Student Finance England.

Forms will be available to download from the following website: www.gov.uk/student-finance

If the tuition fees for the course are more than the fee grant available, the student is responsible for paying the difference.  Fees for part-time courses at the University of Sunderland vary.  Contact the relevant Faculty of study regarding the fees for the course you are interested in joining.

STUDENT FINANCE: ‘New System’ students (started course in 2012/13 or after)

This section gives information for students who will start a part time course in September 2016, or who started a course after September 2012. The information is also relevant to students who are undertaking a part time ‘top-up’ degree programme immediately after completion of a full-time Foundation Degree, HND or similar. Please contact Student Financial Guidance Team if you require further clarification of this.

Tuition Fees in 2017/18 have remained at the rate of £4000 per 120 credits, or approximately £667 per 20 credits.

Students who are studying at least 25% of a full time equivalent course can apply for a non-means tested tuition fee loan from Student Finance England. This will NOT be available to students who already hold a degree qualification or other ‘equivalent or higher level qualification’ (although exceptions are made for certain Teacher Training courses, e.g. the part-time PGCE PCET.)

Repayment of loans will begin from four years after the start of the course (even if you are still studying), if you are earning over £21,000 per year. Once you are earning over this threshold, you will pay 9% of earnings over £21,000. This is taken from wages by HMRC, alongside your income tax and National Insurance, and then used to reduce the amount owed to the Student Loan Company. Once the loan is repaid in full, these deductions will stop. Alternatively, any remaining loan is written off after 30 years.

As an example, if you will earn £28,000 pa, you will repay 9% of £7000, which is £630 per year or £52.50 per month. Therefore, £52.50 will be deducted from your monthly pay and used to reduce the amount owed to the Student Loans Company.

If you earn less than £21,000 pa, nothing is taken from your wages and you are not expected to make any repayments.

Students can apply at: www.gov.uk/student-finance

Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)

Students with disabilities or specific learning difficulties (such as dyslexia) can apply to SFE for this grant.  The DSA is to help with the extra costs of study you incur as a direct result of your disability or specific learning difficulty.  It does not depend on an income assessment.  The maximum available for students starting in September 2016 are:

  • For items of specialist equipment - £5,358
  • To pay a non-medical personal helper - £15,978
  • Other disability-related expenditure - £1,342

The above-mentioned equipment allowance is for the duration of the course (and the government expects a student to pay the first £200 of the equipment cost if it is for a computer); the other two figures are annual amounts.  The University’s Disability Support Team assesses students’ needs, helps organise appropriate support and helps students apply for the DSA – contact (0191) 515 2952.

Student Funding and Welfare Benefits

None of the above grants should affect the amount of means-tested benefits you are entitled to receive.  So long as you continue to fulfil the basic eligibility rules for Income Support (IS) or Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA), you are able to study on a course the University defines as part-time.  If you are claiming JSA, you need to continue to be available for and actively seeking work.  Your availability for work is not affected if attendance on the course does not overlap with the hours you have agreed you are available for work.  If there is some overlap the Jobcentre Plus will expect you to:

  • rearrange the hours of the course to fit around a job, or
  • be prepared to give up the course if a job comes up, and
  • be ready to take time off the course to attend a job interview, and
  • be ready to start work immediately.


University Hardship Fund (UHF)

Part-time students are eligible to apply to the University Hardship Fund for a contribution towards your course-related costs, as long as you are studying at a rate of at least 50% of the full-time equivalent course (or at least 25% if you have a disability that affects your studies).  Students with children are a priority group, but be aware that the Fund is discretionary.

Before application to the Fund you must apply for any available funding through the government’s Student Finance system. A copy of the result is required with your UHF application.

Applications are processed by the University's Student Support Funds Team. You can find more information on the Fund here.


Social Work Students

Part-time Social Work Bursaries are currently available from the NHS Business Services Authority. The bursary can only be paid from Level 2 of the degree course onward, and funded places are limited.

You can find more information either from the University’s Faculty of Education & Society or from the NHSBSA website - http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/Students/825.aspx 

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