Applications for 2018/19 are now open - it’s time for full-time undergraduate students to apply
Apply for a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan now!
EU nationals and Student Finance in Northern Ireland.
Tuition Fee Loans for Part-time Undergraduate (and Distance Learning) Students 2017/18
Tuition Fee Loans for Postgraduate students 2017/18
Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loans in Northern Ireland
student taken notes

Part-time undergraduate students 2017/18

If you are applying for student finance for academic year 2016/17 visit support available to part-time students in 2016/17.

Information for new and continuing part-time students,full and part-time distance learning students and Open University (OU) students in 2017/18.

What student finance is available?

Tuition Fee Loan

You could get a Tuition Fee Loan to help pay for your tuition fees. The Tuition Fee Loan available will be reduced by any amount of the Tuition Fee Grant that you get.

The Tuition Fee Loan available is:

  • up to £3,022.50

If the tuition fee charged by your university or college is more than the Tuition Fee Loan available, then you’ll have to fund the difference yourself (this may be the case if you choose to study in England, Scotland or Wales or certain courses at private higher education colleges).

You must be studying an average course intensity of at least 25% to get a Tuition Fee Loan.

We pay the Tuition Fee Loan directly to your university or college. The Tuition Fee Loan must be paid back. You’ll also be charged interest on your Tuition Fee Loan from the first day the money is paid to your university or college until the loan is repaid in full or cancelled.

You can find out more about interest and repayment of your loan by visiting our repayment website

Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant

To help with the costs of your study you can apply for a Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant.

The amount of Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant available to you depend on your course intensity and household income.

Course intensity

Course intensity is how long it takes to complete your part-time course compared to the equivalent full-time course. You should check your course intensity with your university or college each year.

The following table sets out the maximum Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant you may get based on course intensity.

Course intensity Maximum Tuition Fee Grant Maximum Course Grant
50% - 59% of the equivalent full-time course Up to £820 or the fee charged by your university or college, whichever is lower Up to £265
60% - 74% of the equivalent full-time course Up to £985 or the fee charged by your university or college, whichever is lower Up to £265
75% or more of the equivalent full-time course Up to £x1,230 or the fee charged by your university or college, whichever is lower Up to £265

Household income

Household income is made up of your income and your partner’s income, if applicable.

As your household income increases the Tuition Fee Grant amount available will be reduced first, then the Course Grant.

Household income Tuition Fee Grant Course Grant
£16,842 or below Maximum based on course intensity £265
£16,843 - £25,420 Reducing as income increases £265
£25,421 - £26,029 £0 £265
£26,030 - £28,067 £0 Reducing as income increases
£28,068 or over £0 £0

These figures are based on a single student with no children. When each of the following applies, these figures will increase by:

  • £2000, when a partner is counted;
  • £2000, where a child dependent is included; and
  • £1000, for each additional child dependent.

For example, if you have two dependent children then the thresholds would increase by £3000. Therefore the maximum Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant would be payable if you earned £19,842 or under.

You must be studying an overall average course intensity of at least 50% to get a Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant.

We pay the Tuition Fee Grant directly to your university or college and the Course Grant is paid directly to you as a lump sum. You don’t have to pay these grants back.

Back to top

Do I qualify?

To be able to get any financial support you'll need to meet certain eligibility criteria.


Normally you must be living in Northern Ireland on the first day of the first academic year of your course and either:

  • have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before this date and have ‘settled status’ in the UK (meaning you can live permanently in the UK without the Home Office placing any restrictions on how long you can stay); or
  • meet the requirements of one of the other UK residency categories. These can be found in the guide A guide to Financial Support for Full Time Students in Higher Education 2017/18

Your course

The course you plan to study must be of a certain type and lead to a recognised higher education qualification. You must be studying an overall average course intensity of at least 50% to get a Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant, and at least 25% to get the Tuition Fee Loan.

Your university or college

The university or college you plan to study at must be either be:

  • publicly funded (paid for by the Government) and in the UK; or
  • privately funded in the UK but running individual courses that receive public funding (and are approved by Department for Economy).

Your course intensity

You can work out your course intensity by taking the number of part-time units (such as credits, credit points or modules) that you’ll be studying in the academic year and dividing it by the number of units you would complete in one academic year if studying full-time. The result is then multiplied by 100 to give your course intensity as a percentage.

(Part-time units) ÷ (Full-time units) x 100 = the course intensity as a percentage (%)

Your course intensity can be different from one year to another. To confirm what it is, speak to your university or college.

Previous study

You won’t normally be eligible for funding if you already hold an honours degree or if you’re applying for a course that is equivalent or lower in level than your first higher education course.

This is the case whether or not:

  • you have an equivalent qualification from a United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland or overseas institution
  • your previous qualification was publicly funded or self-funded.

Household income

The amount of Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant you can get is based on your household income. The lower your household income, the more grant entitlement you could get.

Back to top

How and when do I apply?

How to apply

If you are a continuing OU student, visit our OU – How to apply page for more information.

Continuing OU students applying for funding for the first time should follow the steps to applying online below.

If you want to apply for:

  • Tuition Fee Loan only, or
  • Tuition Fee Loan and Tuition Fee Grant and Course Grant

the quickest and easiest way to apply is online. There are four steps to applying online:

  1. Register to create an account
  2. Log into your student finance online account and submit your application
  3. Send us any necessary evidence
  4. Sign and return the Student Finance Online Declaration Form

Alternatively, you can still download the paper form and guidance notes:

Birth Certificates or Adoption Certificates for evidence

We recommend that you send in your original Birth or Adoption Certificate for evidence.

You must also complete and return the form below

This form contains two separate declarations. The 'Applicant's Declaration of Identity' must be signed by the student to confirm their identity. The 'Identity Confirmation Form' is to verify your identity and must be completed by a person of good standing in the community who has known you for at least two years. Please read the ‘Acceptable countersignatures’ section for a complete list of eligible people.

Please note: this person must be currently in employment, and they must supply a phone number for their place of work.

Return address for paper application forms and evidence:

Student Finance NI
Part-time Office
Ballee Centre
Ballee Road West
BT42 2HS

When to apply

You should apply within 9 months of the start of your academic year, otherwise you will lose your entitlement to student finance.

Back to top

What if I have a disability?

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are available to students who have a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition for example depression or anxiety or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.

  • What you can get depends on your individual needs not on your household income
  • You need to complete your course in no more than four times the time it would take to complete if you were studying full-time.
  • You can apply for Disabled Students' Allowances on their own, or in addition to other student finance
  • You don’t need to pay these back
Specialist equipment Up to £5,266 for the whole course
Non-medical helper Up to £15,703 a year
General allowance Up to £1,319 a year
Disability-related travel Helps with extra travel costs you may have to pay to travel to your university or college course because of your disability

How to apply

Step 1 – Tell us about your disability

Fill in the Disabled Students’ Allowances Application Form and return it to us.

These guidance notes provide extra information you need to help you complete the DSA1 form.

Step 2 – Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI) will assess your application

If you qualify for DSAs we’ll send you a letter to let you know. You’ll then need to arrange a needs assessment.

Step 3 – You should attend a needs assessment

After the needs assessment you’ll receive a report outlining the equipment you’ll need, how much it costs and where to get it.

Step 4 - SFNI will send you a letter to let you know what DSAs you can get.

It’s at this stage you’ll get a letter from SFNI advising if DSAs can pay for any specialist equipment and other support recommended in your needs assessment report. We’ll also give you instructions for ordering equipment or arranging other support.

For more information on Disabled Students’ Allowances read our guide:

If you are an Open University student you’ll need to post your DSA form to the Open University Belfast office:

Disability Project Officer
110 Victoria Street

You should post your ID documents directly to SFNI Office at the address below. Please ensure to attach a note to indicate that you are applying for DSA and your form has been forwarded to the Open University who will send it to SFNI on your behalf once they have completed the relevant sections. Please also give details of your home address to enable SFNI to return your original documents.

Student Finance NI
DSA Office
Ballee Centre
Ballee Road West
BT42 2HS

Back to top

Useful forms and guides

We’ve produced a guide that explains the key facts about the funding available to part-time students.

If you receive state benefits and are unable to send the evidence requested in your application notes, you’ll need to complete this form to confirm which benefit(s) you receive and how much:

For students who have already applied and now wish to amend the amount of Tuition Fee Loan they requested:

If you need to tell us about any change in your circumstances through the year, for example a change in your course or the university or college you’re attending, you’ll need to complete this form:

Back to top