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UK students

Funding Information for Part-Time Students 2019/20

We have put together this webpage to help you understand the funding that is available to you when you start either a part-time undergraduate degree course or a part-time initial teacher training course with us here at the University of Sunderland.

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

What is Student Finance?

The Student Finance system is is the main source of funding for UK part-time students. It consists of loans, and other support, from the UK government via the Student Loans Company. You will apply to your national Student Finance office for this funding. (For English students this will be Student Finance England; for Scottish students it will be SAAS; etc).

The information on this webpage is for students who will start a part time course in September 2019, or who started their course after September 2012 and is continuing it into 2019/20.

The information is also relevant to students who are undertaking a part time ‘top-up’ degree programme immediately after completion of a Foundation Degree, HND or similar.  

Please contact the Student Financial Guidance Team if you require further clarification of any of the information here.


Tuition Fees

For most of the University’s part-time degree programmes in 2019/20, tuition fees will be set at £6935 per 120 credits (or £1155 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.

The Tuition Fee Loan 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 such as a part-time PGCE, and
  • some ‘STEM’ subjects – that is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.


Maintenance Loan (18/19 and 19/20 starters)

The government introduced Maintenance Loans for new part-time students for the first time in 2018/19. Only students who have started their course after September 2018 can apply for this element of funding, and students need to be under the age of 60 at the start of the course to receive this loan. Eligible courses include degrees and PGCEs, but currently not Foundation Degrees or DET courses.

The amount of loan available depends on three factors:

  • where you are living while studying (i.e. with parents, in London, or elsewhere),
  • your household income, and
  • the intensity of your study compared to a full-time course

Student Finance England compares a student’s intensity of study to that of a full-time student in percentage bands of 100%, 75%, 66.6%, 50%, 33.3% and 25%.  

For example, a full-time student would study 120 credits in a year. If you are studying 60 credits part-time, this would be 50% of the full-time equivalent (FTE) intensity. You would therefore use the relevant income table below to find out the 100% loan amount, then half it to find the 50% loan you would actually receive for your year of study.

Students living with parents, 100% FTE rates:




£7,529 (max)














£3,314 (min)


Students living elsewhere outside London, 100% FTE rates:




£8,944 (max)














£4,168 (min)


Students studying in London, 100% FTE rates:




£11,672 (max)


















£5,812 (min)

Remember that all of the above rates are for 100% of the full-time equivalent course.

You will need to calculate the percentage of this rate that you will actually receive, based on the percentage of the full-time course that you are studying each year (see above).

What is Household Income?

So what does the government mean by 'household income'?

This would usually be your parents’ income (including that of your natural parent’s spouse/partner with whom you live), unless you qualify for ‘Independent Status’.

You can be classed as ‘independent’ from parents, and therefore their income is not counted, if you meet one of the following conditions: 

  • you are 25 or over at the start of the academic year; or
  • you have been married before the start of the academic year; or
  • you have financially supported yourself for at least 3 years before the start of your course (you will need to show evidence of earnings / welfare benefits); or
  • you have no living parents; or
  • you are responsible for a child/children; or
  • you are ‘irreconcilably estranged’ from your parents.

If you are married, or you are aged 25 or over and living with a partner, then your spouse/partner’s income is taken into account in assessing your entitlement to the Maintenance Loan.

Once it is established whether SFE need to consider income from either your parent(s) or from your spouse/partner, it is their gross taxable income from the 2017/18 financial year that is taken into account. Any payments made into a personal pension fund which is subject to tax relief are deducted, and £1130 will be deducted for any other child who is financially dependent on them. 

Any earnings from employment that you, the student, may have whilst studying are ignored. Only certain taxable ‘unearned’ income you may have will be taken into account (e.g. if you are renting a property to someone else).

How are Student Loans repaid?

Repayment of any loans from the Student Loans Company will begin from four years after the start of the course (even if you are still studying), if you are earning over £25,725 per year. Once you are earning over this threshold, you will pay 9% of earnings over £25,725. This is taken from your wages by HMRC, alongside your income tax and National Insurance, and is 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 £28,725 pa, you will repay 9% of £3000, which is £270 per year or £22.50 per month. Therefore, £22.50 will be deducted from your monthly pay and used to reduce the amount owed to the Student Loans Company.

If you earn less than £25,725 pa, nothing is taken from your wages and you are not expected to make any repayments.


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 levels available for part-time students are:

For items of specialist equipment - £5,684

To pay a non-medical personal helper - £16,951

Other disability-related expenditure - £1,424

The specialist 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, and will be pro-rated according to the intensity of study. The University’s Disability Support Team assesses students’ needs, helps organise appropriate support and helps students apply for the DSA. You can contact them on (0191) 515 2952 or by email at disability.support@sunderland.ac.uk 


Student Funding and Welfare Benefits

Studying part-time should not affect your underlying entitlement to state benefits – however some of your Maintenance Loan will be taken into account as available income and this will likely reduce your benefit.

For 2019/20 academic year, full-time students are allowed £3,783 of their Maintenance Loan to be disregarded for benefits purposes. Part-time students are allowed a percentage of this to be disregarded, depending on the intensity of their studies each year. For example, if you are studying 50% of the full-time equivalent course each year, then 50% of the £3,783 would be disregarded for benefits purposes, and the remainder of your Maintenance Loan would be counted as your income.

If you would find it helpful, you could contact us to discuss this with a member of the Student Financial Guidance Team, who will be able to guide you through the calculation.

Non-means-tested benefits such as DLA and PIP will not be affected by your Maintenance Loan income. You will still need to tell DWP that you are starting a part-time course, but please be aware that this may trigger a new medical assessment by DWP as they may want to check that your course does not include activities that would affect your PIP/DLA claim.

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.

The bursary is not means-tested but, like the Maintenance Loan, the amount you receive is calculated based on your intensity of study compared to the full-time course. You can claim the bursary at the same time as a Maintenance Loan.

For example, a full-time student would study 120 credits, and receive 100% of the available bursary each year. If you are studying 60 credits per year part-time, you are studying half the rate of the full-time equivalent and would therefore receive 50% of the bursary each year.

As a guide, the 100% full-time rate of bursary, including travel element, for 2018/19 was £4225 per year. The 2019/20 rate is yet to be announced by NHSBSA.

You can find more info either from the University’s Faculty of Education & Society or from the NHSBSA website - www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/social-work-students   


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