How to Get Financial Aid as a Part-Time Student

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Florencia Basavilbaso

Content Writer At Gradehacker

What Financial Aid Options Are Available For Part-Time Students?

If you are a part-time student pursuing a higher education degree and need financial aid, these are the options you should consider:

You deserve to plan your college finances in detail

Let our team of experts help you review your situation and choose the right financial aid option for you!

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You deserve to plan your college finances in detail!

Let our team of experts help you review your situation and choose the right financial aid option for you!

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For many college students, part-time enrollment is an excellent way to balance work and school.

And while it may not be as financially viable as a full-time program, there are still several ways you can secure financial aid as a part-time student.

Here, at Gradehacker, the non-traditional student #1 resource, besides helping students meet their academic goals, we provide information that can enhance your experience and show you all the possibilities you count on!

In this blog, we’ll cover all the financial aid you have as a part-time student!

Who is Considered a Part-time Student?

A part-time student is someone attending school but isn’t taking the full course load that a full-time student typically does.

The specific distinction between part-time and full-time student status is often determined by the number of courses or credit hours a student is enrolled in during a particular semester or term.

Here’s what you should know about part-time students:

Part-time students tend to take fewer courses or credit hours. In the United States, for example, this often means enrolling in less than 12 credit hours per semester.

This status often arises due to other commitments, such as work, family responsibilities, or personal obligations, which can make it challenging to dedicate the time required for a full-time course load.

And because of this situation often enjoy more flexible scheduling options. They may opt for evening or weekend classes or take advantage of online courses to accommodate their other responsibilities.

Because they are taking fewer classes, part-time students generally take longer to complete their degree or program compared to full-time students who progress more quickly.

And this is why It’s important to note that financial considerations can come into play as well.

Part-time students may not be eligible for certain types of financial aid or scholarships that are typically intended for full-time students.

But if you want to find the difference between part-time and full-time students, check our blog where you’ll have a bigger picture of how both work!

Financial Aid for Part-Time Students- woman-face-portrait-and-student

What Are The Financial Aids Options Available for Part-Time Students?

Part-time students have many alternatives to cover the costs of their education.

Although some financial aid programs are only available to full-time students, there are still a variety of options that can help part-time students pay for college.

Federal Pell Grants are a form of financial aid available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. This includes part-time students.

Here are some key points to understand:


Part-time students can qualify for Pell Grants as long as they meet all other eligibility criteria.

This includes:

Enrollment Status:

The amount of Pell Grant you receive depends on your enrollment status. If you’re attending on a part-time basis, your grant will be adjusted accordingly.

Typically, it’s prorated based on the number of credit hours or courses you’re taking.

For instance, if you’re enrolled half-time (usually 6-8 credit hours per semester), you’d receive half of the maximum Pell Grant amount.

Financial Need:

Pell Grants are awarded based on financial need, which is determined by your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the cost of attendance at your specific institution.

The lower your EFC, the higher your Pell Grant eligibility chances are.

Annual and Lifetime Limits:

There are limits to how much you can receive in Pell Grants annually and over your lifetime as a student. 

The maximum Pell Grant award can change from year to year, so it’s essential to check the current amounts.

For instance, for the 2023-2024 term, the maximum amount you can get from a Pell Grant is $7,395.

Application Process:

To apply for a Pell Grant, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid  (FAFSA).

It’s crucial to submit the FAFSA early each year to maximize your eligibility for federal financial aid programs.

If you are not sure what info you’ll need to complete and how to submit the FAFSA, be sure to check out our guide.


Pell Grants are typically sent directly to your school, and the school uses the funds to cover your educational expenses, including tuition, fees, and, if applicable, room and board.

Any remaining funds, after these expenses are paid, will be provided to you for other educational costs.

Looking for a simple FAFSA guide?

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Understand better how Financial Aid works and feel confident taking that step!

Looking for a simple FAFSA guide?

Understand better how Financial Aid works and feel confident taking that step!

FWS helps part-time students by providing part-time jobs related to their field of study, so they can earn extra cash to cover their education costs. 

To qualify, you fill out the FAFSA, which tells if you need financial help based on financial information like your family’s income and school expenses.

The best part of this financial aid option is that you can work on or off campus, and these jobs should match your field of study or involve community service. So, it’s like getting paid to learn and help out.

How Federal Work Study Works

The government pays part of your wages, but you make at least the minimum wage.

The number of hours you can work each week is limited (usually around 10-20 hours) so that your schoolwork isn’t too heavily affected.

You get paid for the hours you put in, usually every couple of weeks or monthly. This cash is meant to help with school costs, like tuition and books.

Just remember, the money you earn through FWS is subject to income taxes, but there are some tax benefits that can help ease that burden.

Some jobs take you off-campus to places like nonprofits or government agencies. It’s a great way to get practical experience related to your studies.

You have to reapply for FWS every school year, and it depends on your financial need and how much funding is available.

Financial Aid for Part-Time Students- portrait-of-happy-university-student

This is a financial aid program offered by the U.S. Department of Education to help students cover the costs of their education. Part-time students can access these loans, but there are differences in how they work for part-time versus full-time students.

Part-time students must be enrolled in at least half-time status, which typically means taking 6-8 credit hours per semester, as defined by their educational institution, to qualify for Federal Direct Loans.

To apply for Direct Loans, students need to complete the FAFSA. How much they will be able to receive depends on their financial needs.

Types of Federal Direct Loans

There are two main types of Federal Direct Loans for part-time students:

Direct Subsidized Loans:

Undergraduate students demonstrating financial need can access these loans. The government covers the interest while you are in school at least half-time, during the grace period, and during deferment.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans:

Both undergraduate and graduate students can access these loans, and they are not need-based. Interest begins accruing as soon as the loan is disbursed, and students are responsible for paying it while in school or choosing to capitalize on it.

How Federal Direct Loans Work

The maximum loan amount for part-time students depends on their academic year and dependency status. The government establishes annual and aggregate loan limits.

The government sets Federal Direct Loan interest rates which may change annually. Rates for subsidized and unsubsidized loans may differ but are generally lower than private loan rates.

Repayment for part-time students begins after they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Standard repayment involves making monthly payments over a fixed period, usually 10 years, but income-driven repayment plans and other options are available.

As a part-time student, you may qualify for loan deferment or forbearance in cases of financial hardship or other eligible circumstances. During deferment, interest doesn’t accrue on subsidized loans, but it does on unsubsidized ones.

Before receiving a Federal Direct Loan, part-time students must complete entrance counseling to understand loan terms, responsibilities, and repayment options. 

However, part-time students should carefully consider the long-term impact of taking out loans, as they will need to repay the borrowed amount with interest. Exploring other forms of financial aid, like grants and scholarships, is also advisable to minimize the need for loans.

Find the best scholarships for adult students

 If you are an adult looking for academic opportunities, see your possibilities here!

Find the best scholarships for adult students

 If you are an adult looking for academic opportunities, see your possibilities here!

Private Student Loans

Some private lenders offer loans to part-time students, but these typically have less favorable terms than federal loans. It’s important to research and compare private loan options carefully.

To get how these private loans work for part-time students, this is what you need to know.


Students seeking these loans must be enrolled in an accredited educational institution on a part-time basis

Still, specific requirements can differ among lenders, necessitating inquiries with individual lenders for their particular prerequisites.


The application process entails applying to a lender or financial institution offering private loans. 

Usually, students need to submit:

Financial Need:

Pell Grants are awarded based on financial need, which is determined by your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the cost of attendance at your specific institution.

The lower your EFC, the higher your Pell Grant eligibility chances are.


Private loans often mandate a credit check, a departure from federal student loans. 

Credit history and credit scores play a pivotal role in determining eligibility and the ensuing interest rate. For individuals with limited or adverse credit histories, securing the loan may require a cosigner with a robust credit record.

Loan Amount:

The loan amount depends on the lender’s policies and the cost of part-time education

Typically, lenders factor in tuition, fees, and other educational expenses in determining the loan amount.

Interest Rates:

Interest rates for private loans can be either fixed or variable

They are influenced by your creditworthiness and the lender’s terms, with borrowers boasting better credit scores securing more favorable rates.

Repayment Terms:

Private loans for part-time students afford diverse repayment options. 

Some private lenders permit interest-only payments while enrolled in school, whereas others necessitate full monthly payments.

Repayment terms vary in duration, spanning from several years to a couple of decades.

Grace Period:

Some private lenders offer a grace period: an interval following graduation or departure from school during which borrowers aren’t obligated to make loan payments.

The length of this grace period varies across lenders.


It’s essential to consider any associated fees, such as origination fees or penalties for late payments, as they can impact the overall cost of borrowing.


Individuals with limited credit histories or lower credit scores may require a cosigner with a robust credit history to secure the loan or obtain more favorable interest rates.

Repayment Responsibility:

Borrowers bear the responsibility of repaying the loan, even if they don’t complete their part-time program or secure employment immediately after graduation.

So, it’s vital that you craft a clear plan for managing loan repayment.

Financial Aid for Part-Time Students-african-college-student-2021-09

Employer Tuition Assistance

Some employers offer tuition assistance programs to help employees pursue higher education part-time while working. Check with your employer to see if they offer any tuition assistance benefits or scholarships.

This benefit is designed for employees who want to enhance their skills or qualifications but cannot commit to full-time study due to their work responsibilities.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for this assistance, employees typically need to meet specific criteria set by their employer.

These criteria may include factors like length of service, job performance, and the relevance of the education to their current role or career development within the company.

How Employer Tuition Assistance Works

Financial support is a key component of this program.

Employers typically provide assistance in the form of tuition reimbursement or direct payments to educational institutions. The financial aid can cover some or all of the tuition fees and related expenses like books and fees.

Participating employees are expected to maintain part-time employment status while pursuing their education. Employers may have guidelines regarding the minimum number of work hours required to retain this status.

The courses or programs eligible for tuition assistance are usually limited to those directly related to the employee’s current job or deemed beneficial to the company’s goals.

Maintaining a certain level of academic performance, such as passing grades, may be a requirement to continue receiving tuition assistance.

Employees should also be aware of any tax implications associated with this benefit, as it may be considered taxable income depending on local tax laws.

In exchange for tuition assistance, some employers may require employees to commit to staying with the company for a specified period after completing their education.

This ensures that the employer benefits from the investment in the employee’s education.

Is Employer Tuition Assistance Worth it?

Employer tuition assistance for part-time students is an attractive benefit that can help employees advance their careers and reduce the financial burden of higher education.

However, it’s important to understand all terms and conditions associated with this benefit before taking advantage of it.

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Financial Aid Opportunities For Part-Time Students

Now you know that part-time college students like you can also alleviate the financial burden of college. Understand your financial situation, do your research, and pick the financial aid option that suits your needs the most.

But if you are not sure how you can apply for financial aid or aren’t sure what are the best next steps for you, you can book a meeting with our team and let us help you find the best options.

And if you want to find out more about the financial benefits you can have as a student, check these blogs for more information:

Picture of Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso

Florencia Basavilbaso is a content creator passioned for writing, music, films, and the arts. At Gradehacker, she helps to improve non-traditional students life’s by finding and providing the most useful information, so they can always progress. You can find her on LinkedIn.