Part Time student funding for NEW students who start in 2012
The changes in student finance arising from the review of higher education funding that completed in 2010 included significant alteration to the arrangements for part-time students in England.
Up until 2011/12, new part-time students studying at an intensity of 50 per cent (in other words, no slower than twice as long as the equivalent full-time course) could access fee grants on a means-tested basis. As part-time fees were unregulated these grants may or may not have covered the total cost of the fees. For those with middle-incomes there may have been no support available at all.
This system will now see significant change.
In 2012/13 student loans for fees will be available to part-time students, up to a maximum of £6,750 per year (that is, 75 per cent of the equivalent full-time fee rate). In addition, eligibility for part-time support will be extended to those students studying at 25 per cent intensity or more (in other words, no slower than four times as long as the equivalent full-time course).
The cap does not reduce with lower intensity; it would be possible for an institution to charge this amount per year for a 25 per cent intensity course. Fee levels that exceed £4,500 will be subject to the same requirements around access agreements as for higher full-time fees. The repayment conditions are almost identical to those for full-time students, and so repayments commence at incomes over £21,000, interest rates will range between the Retail Price Index rate (RPI) and RPI plus 3 per cent, and loans will be written off 30 years from the point at which the borrower enters repayment.
This point of repayment will, however, be different: a part-time student will enter repayment no later than the April following the fourth year of support, regardless of whether or not they have completed the course. Whether they make any payments will depend on their income, but it could mean a part-time student making repayments during study.
Note that those students who started their course in 2011/12 or earlier will continue to
be funded under the old system of support.
Living and course costs support
Under the current system, a small course costs grant is available. No such support will be available for new students in 2012/13. However, the Disabled Students' Allowance will continue to be available and eligibility extended to 25 per cent intensity in line with fee loans.
Otherwise, part-time students can apply to the Access to Learning Fund for additional
help, but support from this is not guaranteed.
The above information is only relevant for students domiciled in England.
For students who come from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland please see the following links:
Northern Ireland: www.nidirect.gov.uk/fee-grant-and-course-grant-for-part-timestudents