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, have a disability, 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).
See the article on Individual Training Accounts (ITAs).
For more information visit the My World of Work website or phone the helpline free on 0800 917 8000.
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.
If you are planning to study a part time higher education course (Higher National Certificate up to degree level) 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.
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.
For people claiming benefits for the first time, Universal Credit is the one now available. This replaces: Jobseeker’s Allowance; Housing Benefit; Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; Employment and Support Allowance; and Income Support.
If you are already in receipt of any of the older benefits mentioned above, you will switch to Universal Credit by the end of 2023.
You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you are studying part time. You’ll need to meet other eligibility criteria, like being available for work.
Contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 9344 for more information or see the Universal Credit section of the GOV.UK website.
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 £166 a week.
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.
For more information see the OU website.