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Eligibility rules for Government Student Finance

Eligibility rules for Government Student Finance

There are two main requirements for eligibility:

1. The residence requirement

To be eligible for the full package of Student Finance (loans for tuition fees and living costs) you must usually meet the following criteria:

  • you must have ‘settled status’ in the UK on 1st September of the year in which you start your course (this means that under the immigration laws there is no restriction on how long you can stay in the UK); and
  • you must be ordinarily resident[*] in England on 1st September of the year in which you start your course; and
  • you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for the three years immediately before 1st September of the year in which you start your course (you can ignore any short absences, such as holidays). Your residence must not have been for the main purpose of receiving full-time education during any part of the three year period.

If you have been absent from the UK, for example because you have been on a gap year, or your family were temporarily employed abroad, or serving in the armed forces, you should still be eligible.

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria listed above, you might still be eligible for Student Finance. Check all the eligibility categories further on in this section.

If you are unsure of your eligibility, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service who will be able to advise you about your individual situation.

If your application for Student Finance is refused, it is advisable to contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service who can advise you about your appeal rights and can help you make your appeal, where appropriate. This is explained in the earlier section of this advice guide What happens after I apply for Student Finance?'

2. Previous study

Equivalent or lower qualification (ELQ)

If the qualification you are studying for at QMUL is equivalent to or lower than a qualification you already hold, your eligibility for Student Finance will be affected. This rule applies whether or not you obtained your qualification in the UK, and regardless of whether you studied at a publicly or privately funded institution.

You will not be eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan, or Maintenance Loan for your new course. If you qualify for Supplementary Grants (see ‘Supplementary Grants’ section of this advice guide) you should still be eligible for these.

You have previously studied on a Higher Education course, but did not obtain a qualification

If your previous study was at a publicly funded institution, whether or not in the UK, you may not be entitled to a Tuition Fee Loan for every year of your new course. The number of years that you can get a Tuition Fee Loan for a new course is worked out as follows

Entitlement to Tuition Fee Loan where there is previous study

OD+1- PC

OD (ordinary duration of the current course) +1 (extra ‘plus one’ year) – PC (years of previous Higher Education study before current course)

Example:

Previous course: 2014/2015 – enrolled Year 1 (3 year Business Studies degree) at Bath University but

withdrew December 2014*

Current course: 2017/18 – enrols Year 1 at QMUL (3 year History degree)

Entitlement to Student Finance for current course = 3+1 – 1 = 3

(The standard length of the current course is 3 years, plus the ‘plus one’ year, minus one year of previous study at Bath leaves 3 years of full Student Finance at QMUL)

*even if you only attend for part of an academic year (even just one day), this counts as a whole year of previous study

If you are only entitled to a Tuition Fee Loan for part of your new course, because of previous study, you will get this funding in the later years of your new course rather than at the beginning, so you will need to find other funding until your Student Finance starts.

You can usually still get a Maintenance Loan in each year of your course even though you have previous study. If you qualify for Supplementary Grants (see Supplementary Grants section) you should also be eligible for these each year.

If you failed to complete your most recent previous course because of compelling personal reasons (for example medical reasons or serious personal or family issues), Student Finance England has the discretion to fund the first year of your new course despite your previous study. Please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for advice about making an application to SFE for discretionary funding.

EU nationals

Most EU nationals are eligible to apply for the Tuition Fee Loan only (see the EU+ box in the section of this guide called ‘When and how to apply for Student Finance’). If you are not an EU national but there is an EU national in your family, you might still qualify for a Tuition Fee Loan. The rules are complicated so please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.

However, some EU nationals can also apply for the living costs elements of UK Student Finance. There are two main categories of eligibility:

1. Non-UK European nationals living in the UK and Islands

To be eligible for Student Finance under this category, you must be:

  • an EU (but non UK) national on 1st September of the year in which you start your course; and
  • ordinarily resident[†] in England on 1st September of the year in which you start your course; and
  • have been ordinarily resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the five years[**] immediately before 1st September of the year in which you start your course (you can ignore any short absences, such as holidays); and
  • if during any part of the five-year period your residence was for the main purpose of receiving full time education, you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK or elsewhere in the EEA and/or Switzerland immediately before the three-year period.

You can apply online, which is usually the quickest option. 

If you prefer to apply on paper, you can download a PN1 application form

You may also be required to complete an SFE UK residency form:

2. Non UK EEA and Swiss Migrant workers and family

(The EEA is all the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. However, if you are a Croatian national please read the section ‘Croatian nationals’ instead)

To be eligible for Student Finance under this category, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • you must be an EEA national (non UK) or a Swiss national and resident in the UK as a worker (this includes employment or self-employment), or the relevant family member (spouse/civil partner/child/other relevant family member) of such a worker; and
  • you must be ordinarily resident in England on 1st September of the year in which you start your course, (unless you are an EEA or Swiss frontier worker or their relevant family member); and
  • you must be ordinarily resident in the UK or elsewhere in the EEA and/or Switzerland for the three years immediately before the 1st September of the year in which you start your course (you can ignore any short absences, such as holidays)

Please note the following important points:

  • If you are the worker, you must intend to continue working throughout your course.
  • If you stop working voluntarily, you will no longer be eligible for the maintenance support from Student Finance. However, if you have to stop work temporarily due to illness or accident and can provide medical evidence, or if you are made redundant, you may be able to retain your worker status and continue to receive student finance as an EEA worker. Please check with a Welfare Adviser
  • If you receive UK government Student Finance on the basis of being an EEA worker, your eligibility for maintenance support will cease while you are on your study or work placement abroad. This is because you will lose your worker status when you stop working in the UK and therefore cannot qualify for Student Finance on that basis. For more information see the 'funding for study or work abroad section' of this guide. 
  • If you are the family member of an EEA worker, you do not need to be an EEA national yourself to qualify for Student Finance.
  • If you are the child of an EEA/Swiss worker, in certain circumstances the worker no longer needs to still be living and working in the UK.
  • You can become eligible for Student Finance during your course if you start working (you do not need to be working at the start of the academic year), although if you start work part way through an academic year, you might not get full Student Finance for the whole of that year
  • If you are actively looking for work, and have previously worked in the UK, you might also be considered a worker. Please check with a Welfare Adviser
  • If you are self-employed, you can be eligible as a worker.
  • If you are applying for Student Finance because you are the child of an EEA or Swiss Worker, you also need to show either that you are either under the age of 21, or that you are dependent on your EEA worker family member or on their spouse or civil partner.
  • Dependent usually means financially dependent but it could have other meanings. If your family member is no longer living and working in the UK you might still be eligible. These rules are complicated so it is advisable to check your eligibility with a Welfare Adviser.

Applying for Student Finance as an EEA Migrant Worker

This is explained in the section of this Advice Guide When and how to apply for Student Finance ‘(ignore the EU+ box). At the moment, students who are applying for Student Finance as an EEA/Swiss Migrant Worker or their family member cannot apply online. You need to download a PN1 (new students) application form

Documents you will need

You will need to provide Student Finance with a range of documents to prove your worker status and your nationality. If you are applying as a family member of an EEA or Swiss worker you will also need to provide documents to prove the family relationships and their worker status. If you are working as an au-pair please ignore the information below and read the special section about au-pairs on the next page instead. If you or your family member are self-employed, a Welfare Adviser can give you advice about the documents that SFE require.

  • Your original passport, or national identity card, to prove your nationality.
  • If you are applying as the family member of an EEA or Swiss worker, you will also need to provide your family member’s original passport or national identity card. You will also need to provide formal documents to confirm your relationship to your family member. Student Finance is strict about what documents it will accept, and precisely what you need to provide will depend on your circumstances. A Welfare Adviser can give you advice about what documents you will need.
  • For some documents such as birth and marriage certificates, Student Finance will accept official copies. Who can certify documents and what they must write on the copy of the document is explained here
  • Evidence that you, or your relevant family member, are employed or self-employed. 

If you/your family member are employed, you will need to submit all of the following documents:

  • Your/their employment contract
  • A letter from your/their employer confirming the contract accurately represents the hours and terms within the contact. The letter must be on headed paper and signed by the HR department or a manager. The information should confirm: the date the work started, the job title, whether the job is permanent, how many hours work is done each week and how much the salary is. It is generally advisable to be working at least 10 hours per week for SFE to consider you / your family member as an EEA worker. However, if you / they are working less hours you might still be eligible, so contact a Welfare Adviserfor advice.
  • The last 3 months’ payslips. If you have been working for less than 3 months, contact a Welfare Adviseras it may not be necessary for you to wait until you have 3 months’ payslips.
  • If you are paid weekly or fortnightly, you will also need to provide a payslip to show you are working in September (just provide the first one for that month). If you are paid monthly, you don’t need to provide a September payslip – just ensure that your employer’s letter is dated in September
  • A copy of your P60 from the most recent tax year that has ended if you were working in that tax year
  • SFE may request evidence of your continued employment before releasing your term 2 and 3 payments.
  • For term 2, if you are paid monthly, this will be your monthly payslip showing the work completed in the month of November. If you are paid weekly or fortnightly this will be a payslip showing at least one full week of work completed in December. 
  • For term 3, if you are paid monthly, this will be your monthly payslip showing the work completed in the month of February. If you are paid weekly or fortnightly this will be a payslip showing at least one full week of work completed in March. 
  • Until you have provided these payslips, your payments will be blocked.
  • For subsequent years you will need to reapply online or using a paper PR1 form. No evidence is required at the application stage as this is provisionally approved following finalisation of term 3 in the previous academic year. However, you must send evidence of continued employment to release your payments.
  • For the 1st payment this is, if you are paid weekly or fortnightly,  a payslip to show you are working in September (just provide the first one for that month). Or, if you are paid monthly, you don’t need to provide a September payslip but you must provide a letter from your employer (signed by a member of HR or your manager) dated on or after 1st September confirming your continued employment. 
  • For term 2, if you are paid monthly, this will be your monthly payslip showing the work completed in the month of November. If you are paid weekly or fortnightly this will be a payslip showing at least one full week of work completed in December. 
  • For term 3, if you are paid monthly, this will be your monthly payslip showing the work completed in the month of February. If you are paid weekly or fortnightly this will be a payslip showing at least one full week of work completed in March.

If you/your family member are self-employed you will need to provide the following documents: 

  • Evidence that you/they are registered self-employed with HMRC
  • Last 3 months invoices and corresponding bank statements. 
  • Last 3 months business expenditure.
  • If you have been self-employed for less than 3 months, contact . 
  • Most recent tax return (if available). 
  • SFE will ask you to send evidence of continued self-employment to release your payments. 
  • For term 1, this will be invoices and bank statements dated after 1st September. 
  • For Term 2, this will be invoices and bank statements dated December. 
  • For Term 3, this will be invoices and bank statements dated March. 
  • For subsequent years of study you will need to apply online or using the PR1 application form. 
  • No evidence is required at the application stage as this is provisionally approved following finalisation of term 3 in the previous academic year. However, you must send evidence of continued employment to release your payments.
  • For term 1, this will be invoices and bank statements dated after 1st September.
  • For Term 2, this will be invoices and bank statements dated December.
  • For Term 3, this will be invoices and bank statements dated March.

Because you have to provide evidence that you are working at the start of each semester, this means that your Student Finance payment may be delayed and you might not receive your money until a few weeks into the semester – for this reason it is advisable to ensure you have sufficient funds available to pay for your expenses until you get your payment. If you are fully enrolled and awaiting a student finance payment, you could apply to QMUL for an interest free short term loan by contacting the Student Enquiry Centre.

  • A letter written by you, explaining how you meet the eligibility requirements for Student Finance as an EEA Worker. Your letter must confirm your residency information, to the day, for the full 3 years prior to the start of your course. You will find a template letter which you can personalise in the Appendix at the end of this guide.
  • You need to have been ordinarily resident in the UK on 1st September immediately before you started your course. You do not normally need to provide evidence of your residence at the time of applying, but SFE might ask you to provide it later. Examples of documents you could provide include a tenancy agreement, or payslips, or bank statements.
Make sure you complete Section 3 of the application form which asks you about your residence status and for details of your work

After you have collected your documents, drafted your letter and completed as much as you can of the application form, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service. They will check your application including your documents and your letter before you send it to SFE. It is advisable to send your application by special delivery post so you can track delivery

Au Pairs

If you are employed as an Au Pair the standard evidence SFE will request is listed below. See above for how to send the information:

  • Your original passport or national ID card.
  • A letter from your host family confirming the start date of your employment as an Au Pair, hours worked per week, general confirmation of weekly duties, remuneration paid for work completed, as well as confirmation of whether food and accommodation is included with the role.
  • A copy of your CRB check and medical reports prior to becoming an Au Pair.

Where do I send the documents?

You can either send scanned copies of evidence to eu_migrantworkers@slc.co.uk or by post to EEA Migrant Worker Team, PO Box 89, Darlington, DL1 9AZ and include your customer reference number. If you are emailing, include the month for which you are sending evidence in the subject heading (e.g. ‘September evidence’).

Croatian nationals

There are specific rules about work authorisation for Croatian nationals. These rules, and the rules about who is exempt from the requirement to get work authorisation, are explained in our Part Time and Vacation Work guide.

If you are subject to work authorisation, you may have difficulties applying for Student Finance as an EEA Worker (unless you have a purple registration card or are exempt from authorisation). However, we are aware of previous successful appeals on this issue and therefore it is usually worth applying, but it would be helpful to contact a Welfare Adviser who can advise you on your case and provide a covering letter to submit with your application if required. Therefore, if you are Croatian and you are working in the UK with work authorisation, please contact a Welfare Adviser before applying for Student Finance.

After you have applied

If your application for Student Finance is refused, you can contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service who can advise you about your appeal rights and can help you make your appeal, where appropriate. This is explained in the earlier section of this advice guide ‘What happens after I apply for Student Finance?’.

Other categories of eligibility

There are some other categories of people who are, in certain circumstances, eligible for the full package of Student Finance.

Below is a summary of the additional eligibility categories: the actual rules are more detailed and contain more requirements. Please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service to check your eligibility. If you are waiting for a decision on an application for asylum, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service.

You can also read an overview of the categories of eligibility on the UKCISA website.  

You might be eligible for Student Finance if:

  1. You, or your parent or your spouse/civil partner have been recognised as a refugee by the UK Government and you have remained ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands since then; or
  2. You have applied for asylum in the UK and although the Home Office has not granted you refugee status, they have granted you Humanitarian Protection. You might also be eligible if you are the spouse/civil partner or child of such a person, but additional criteria apply; or
  3. You are the child of a Turkish national who is ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands and who is, or has been, lawfully employed in the UK; or
  4. You are the child of a Swiss national who is living in the UK, for example as a worker, student or self-sufficient person, on the first day of the first academic year of your course. Note that if you started your course before September 2013, your Swiss national parent only needed to be living in the EEA or Switzerland, they weren’t required to be living in the UK; or
  5. You are settled in the UK, but you have been living outside the UK in the EEA or Switzerland during the three-year period immediately before 1st September of the year in which you start your course, and you were settled in the UK immediately before you moved to the EEA or Switzerland.
  6. You hold Limited Leave to Remain (including Discretionary Leave to Remain) in the UK and have long residence in the UK. Following a court case in summer 2015 known as 'Tigere' the government has introduced a new category of eligibility from the 2016-17 academic year. You need to be either:
  • someone who is under 18 years of age and who has lived in the UK for at least 7 years prior to the first day of the first academic year of your course; or
  • aged 18 years and above and who has either spent at least half their life in the UK or at least 20 years in the UK prior to the first day of the first academic year of your course.

Applying under the long residence category can be complicated. If you think you might meet the eligibility criteria for this category, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the QMUL Advice and Counselling Service who can check this for you and who can advise you on how to apply and evidence your eligibility to SFE. 

To be eligible for support under the long residence category, you must have limited Leave to Remain (including Discretionary Leave to Remain) and have lawful ordinary residence in the UK for the three year period before the first day of the first academic year of your course. You must also be resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course.

When applying you must evidence your immigration status for the whole of the three year period before the first day of the first academic year of your course to SFE. 

In addition, you must evidence your residence in the UK for the relevant period as follows: 

  • If you are under 18 on the first day of the first academic year of your course, you must also have lived in the UK for at least seven years.
  • If you are 18 or above on the first day of the first academic year of your course, you must also have lived in the UK for at least half of your life or 20 years.

Therefore, you will need to send SFE evidence of your date of entry into the UK and evidence of your residency history.

Also, your residence during the three years immediately before the start of your degree course must not have been wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education.

For more information please see the Just for Kids Law 'Let us Learn' webpage

If you think you might meet the eligibility criteria for this category, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the QMUL Advice and Counselling Service who can advise you on your application. 

7. For courses starting from the 2018/19 academic year, people who have been granted stateless leave to remain in the UK, and their relevant family members. 

In all cases you would need to demonstrate three years’ ordinary lawful residence in the UK and Islands immediately preceding the beginning of the first academic year of your course, and to be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

If you think you might meet the eligibility criteria for this category, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the QMUL Advice and Counselling Service who can check this for you and who can advise you on how to evidence your eligibility.
 


[*] To be ‘ordinarily resident’ means to be habitually, normally and lawfully living somewhere

[†] To be ‘ordinarily resident’ means to be habitually, normally and lawfully living somewhere.

[**]If you made your student finance application before 25 March 2016 you only have to have been ordinarily resident for three years immediately before 1st September of the year in which you start your course. 


Disclaimer:
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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