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Funding part time study

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If you plan to study part time (less than 21 hours a week) you will usually have to pay course tuition fees unless you are on a low income, are claiming certain benefits, are disabled or are an asylum seeker or refugee who wants to take a non-advanced course or a course in English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL).

Individual Training Accounts (ITAs)

See the article on Individual Training Accounts (ILAs).

For more information visit the My World of Work website at  or phone the helpline free on 0141 285 6100.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs)

Professional and Career Development Loans are bank loans that can be used to help pay for work related learning. If you are aged 18 or over you can borrow between £300 and £10,000 to help support the cost of up to two years of learning (or three years if it includes one year’s relevant work experience).

The Government will pay the interest on the loan while you are learning and for one month afterwards. The loan can be used to pay towards course fees or other costs such as books, child care and travel, and living expenses (like rent, food and clothing).

You can also use the loan to supplement other forms of support such as grants or bursaries.

Because the PCDL is a commercial loan only consider it as an option once you have looked into all other student funding options.

You can use the PCDL for many full time, part time or distance learning courses at all sorts of levels, including:

You can’t use a PCDL to completely fund a full time first degree, but you can apply for a loan to help with your living costs if these are only partly covered by any other funding you get.

Contact the National Careers Service helpline for more information at 0800 100 900 or visit the GOV.UK website.

Benefits and the ‘16-hour rule’

You may be able to study part time and still claim benefit (usually Jobseekers’ Allowance) under the ‘16-hour rule’. This may allow you to study up to 16 hours a week and still sign on as long as you are still available for full time work and looking for a full time job. The number of hours may depend on your age.

Contact your local Jobcentre Plus office for more information and advice.

See the online version of the ‘Benefits for Students in Scotland’ handbook produced by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) for more information.

Part time bursaries

If you want to study a non-advanced level course for less than 16 hours a week (or on an open learning basis), and still claim income support or other benefits, you might also be able to claim a part time bursary (covering travel and study expenses only) at some colleges. You might have your course fees paid under the fee waiver system. Contact the college you want to study at for more information.

Part time fee grant

If you are planning to study a part time higher education course (Higher National Certificate or above) at a college, university or private training provider and your income is £25,000 a year or less you might qualify for a grant towards your tuition fees. The amount depends on the qualification you are studying and the number of credits it is worth. Contact your learning provider to find out if they are approved to offer the grant by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS), or contact Part Time Fee Grant enquiries line on 0300 300 3137. You can download an application form from the SAAS website.

Discretionary funds

These funds are run by individual institutions on a discretionary basis, so apply directly to your college or university. The funds are very limited. How much you get depends on your circumstances.

Tax credits

You might be able to claim tax credits. Students with one or more children can claim Child Tax Credit whether or not they are in paid work. You may be able to claim Working Tax Credit if you work a certain number of hours a week. The amount depends on your age.

Contact the Working and Child Tax Credit helpline on 0345 300 3900 for more information, or see the Tax Credits section of the GOV.UK.

You can apply online or through your local Jobcentre Plus office. Claims are usually based on your income in the previous year.

Please note that in some areas of the country you can now claim Universal Credit, which will replace the following benefits: Jobseeker’s Allowance; Housing Benefit; Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; Employment and Support Allowance; and Income Support.

Contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 4272 for more information or see the Universal Credit section of the GOV.UK website.

Working while studying

You may need to work part time while studying. If so, you might need to pay tax depending on how much you earn. Employers use the Paye As You Earn (PAYE) process to deduct tax and National Insurance (NI) from your earnings. You will only pay NI Contributions (NICs) if you earn more than £155 a week.

Open University (OU)

The type and level of financial support you are entitled to depends on certain criteria, such as where you live, your income, previous qualifications and level of study.

Students with a disability may be able to get help with extra study costs, regardless of income.

Part time OU students normally pay a contribution towards their course fees but you may be able to apply for a Part Time Fee Grant if you earn £25,000 or less a year. See the SAAS website for more details. Again depending on your income, you could use an Individual Learning Account (ILA) to claim up to £200 a year towards many OU courses which involve less than 30 Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) credit points of learning.

For more information see the OU website.

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