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  1. Study at the OU
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  3. Qualifications
  4. Ways to pay for a qualification in England

Ways to pay for a qualification in England

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Tuition Fee Loan

You could be eligible to pay your tuition fees by taking out a fee loan, which means you don’t have to pay your fees upfront and, in most cases, you won't have to repay anything until April 2017.

To qualify you'll need to study at a pace that's equivalent to at least 25 per cent of a full-time student, for example an OU module worth 30 credits. And you'll need to be studying for an undergraduate qualification that's higher than any you already have.

The fee loan is applicable to you even if you are planning to study 120 credits per year, which is equivalent to full-time study at a campus-based university.

Key facts

  • Over 1 million students in England pay their fees annually with a fee loan. It's the most popular and trusted fee payment method in the United Kingdom.
  • You can pay all or part of your fees with a fee loan of up to £6750 in 2013/2014.
  • Fee loans are not means-tested. This means the income from other family members is not taken into account when you apply for, or start repaying, your loan.
  • A fee loan doesn’t affect your credit rating, so it won’t stop you getting things like a mortgage or a car loan.
  • You’ll apply for your fee loan directly from Student Finance England. We’ll guide you through the process and you can also use our own online eligibility checker to find out if you are eligible, although the final decision on your eligibility for a fee loan will be made by Student Finance England.
  • You will start to repay your fee loan from the April four years after you start your qualification or the April after you leave the course, whichever comes first, but April 2016 is the earliest your repayments could begin. In effect, the government has given you an automatic payment holiday. You can, however, pay off the fee loan early if you want to. The choice is yours.
  • Repayments are based on what you earn, not what you owe. Repayments are based on your income above £21,000. The amount charged is nine per cent of your income above the £21,000 threshold. So, for example, if your income was £25,000 in your fourth year of study, the nine per cent would only apply to £4000, meaning you would only repay £30 a month.
  • If your income falls below £21,000, your repayments stop – for example if you take a career break or are unemployed – until you start earning £21,000 again. Any outstanding balance is written off after 30 years.
  • Interest (at a rate equal to the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus up to three per cent) is applied to your balance once the University confirms that you are participating on your qualification.
  • Tuition Fee Loans are managed by Student Finance England.

The following table gives example repayment amounts (for illustrative purposes only):

Income each year before tax Amount of income from which repayments will be based Monthly repayment
Up to £21,000 £0 £0
£22,000 £1000 £7
£25,000 £4000 £30
£30,000 £9000 £67
£35,000 £14,000 £105
£40,000 £19,000 £142

For more information about fee loans, speak to an OU adviser or contact Student Finance England directly on 0845 300 5090 or visit

Employer sponsorship

Sponsorship means your employer pays your fees. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees.

Your sponsor needs to complete an individual sponsorship agreement, which you can download online when you register or which you will find in your registration pack.

If your employer is reimbursing you we can send you a receipt of payment or a statement of academic record when you have completed your module.

For further information, speak to an adviser.

Credit or debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront securely with a debit or credit card. We accept most well-known credit and debit cards. We also accept payment by bank transfer.

Financial support

Access to Success Route

If you have an annual household income of less than £25,000 or you are on certain benefits, you may be successful in gaining a place on our Access to Success Route. The Access to Success Route is a two-step process which will allow you to begin your studies for just £25.

Find out more about Access to Success.

Access to Learning Fund

Once you have started studying with us you may be able to apply for additional help towards your study costs if you are experiencing financial hardship. Students with an annual household income not exceeding £25,000 can apply for assistance from the Access to Learning Fund.

This fund is provided to assist students who are facing higher than expected costs as a result of their study. It cannot be used to pay for tuition fees, but will support course-related costs such as travel, childcare and internet access. Funding may be limited and is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about the Access to Learning Fund contact the Financial Support Office.

Other ways to pay

OU gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations: £10, £20, £50 and £100.

Find out more about buying or redeeming vouchers.

Mixed payment methods

You may also be able to pay via mixed payment methods.

For more information about these payment options, speak to an adviser.

Disabled Students’ Allowance

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) help with additional study costs that result directly from your disability or specific learning difficulty.

Allowances are not means-tested and may go towards specialist equipment (such as an adapted computer), non-medical study support (for example, a sign-language interpreter; a note-taker or a dyslexia support worker) or other related expenses. You can also apply for help with study-related travel costs that directly result from your disability.

You may be eligible for a DSA if you’re studying at least 30 credits towards an OU undergraduate qualification that lasts for more than one year.

For further information, visit our Services for disabled students website.

Where will you be resident whilst you study?

If your country isn't listed here, visit our international prospectus.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Where will you be resident whilst you study?

If your country isn't listed here, visit our international prospectus.

Your questions

Try our frequently asked questions.

Come and meet us at an event near you.

Or contact an adviser by Email or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90 +44(0) 845 366 60 35

Employers' questions

Contact Corporate Enquiries
Visit our website for employers or Email us

Get a prospectus

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