These rules introduce a level playing field for full-time and part-time study for the costs of tuition for the first time.
The loans replace the means-tested fee grant and study grant which were paid to around 60,000 students. The loans will not be means-tested, and it is expected up to 175,000 part-time students will be eligible.
Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, said,
"Part-time students have been neglected for too long. We are committed to a level playing field for part-time and full-time students. The progressive repayment system for graduates, whether they study part-time or full time, will ensure anyone with the ability and desire can afford higher education."
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:
"The repayment terms afford protection to low-earning graduates whatever their financial circumstances when studying. That is fair and progressive.
"A better deal for part-time students has been widely supported. Employers particularly value graduates who already have experience of the workplace, which is why making part time study more accessible is one of the key goals of our higher education reforms."
The amount of the loans will depend on the proportion of a full-time course which is studied each year. The lower limit is 25 per cent and the upper limit is 75 per cent, the same as for the fee grant now. This range will accommodate most Open University students.
Through a clause in the Education Act, currently before Parliament, the Government also plans to limit the tuition charge which higher education institutions can levy for part-time students so that it can be covered completely by the loan.
Like full-time students interest is the Retail Price Index (RPI) + 3 per cent whilst studying and will depend on income when liable to repay, varying from RPI for earnings up to £21,000 and increasing to RPI + 3 per cent for graduates earning £41,000 and over.
Part-time students will become liable to repay their loans from the April after three years of study, even if they are continuing to study. Repayments will only begin once earnings reach £21,000 at 9 per cent over this amount; if earnings are less than this amount, there are no repayments and interest accrues at RPI. If the part-time course lasts less than three years, then graduates will repay from the April after they leave higher education.