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Eligibility rules for Student Finance and NHS Bursaries

Eligibility rules for Student Finance and NHS Bursaries

To be eligible for the full package of Student Finance or an NHS Bursary (money for tuition fees and living costs) you must meet certain nationality and residence requirements. 

The eligibility rules for Student Finance have changed for students starting a course from the 2021/22 academic year onwards.

If you started your course in 2020/21 or earlier please see the 15 categories of eligible student on the UKCISA website. To be eligible you must meet all of the criteria of one of the categories. 

If you started your course on or after 01/08/2021 please see the SFE Assessing Eligibility Guidance 2021/22 which explains the new categories of eligibility.  

Please see the NHS Bursary Scheme New Rules (10th edition) which apply to the academic year from 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2022 and detail the categories of personal eligibility for NHS funding. 

The NHS Bursary Guidance for Medical and Dental students for the  2021/22 academic year should be available here soon. 

European students please see the sections for:

  • EU/EEA/Swiss students starting in 2021/22 onwards
  • EU/EEA/Swiss students starting in 2020/21 or earlier

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.

Please see the section of this guide 'When and how to apply for Student Finance'. If your application for Student Finance or an NHS Bursary 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 sections of this advice guide What happens after I apply for Student Finance? and How do I apply for NHS Funding

IN THIS GUIDE:

EU/EEA/Swiss Students starting in the 2021/22 academic year

The eligibility criteria for Student Finance and for the Home rate of the tuition fee for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals starting a course from September 2021 have changed due to the UK no longer being a member of the EU. There is separate eligibility criteria for Irish citizens.

We have summarised below three of the main categories of European nationals who might qualify for government Student Finance in England. In some categories this would just mean qualifying for a Tuition Fee Loan, and in others it also means qualifying for a Maintenance Loan (we explain this under each category below). For each category you need to be undertaking the course in England. The only exception to this is if you are unable to travel to England due to Covid-19 restrictions, and you are following the course online until you can travel. UKCISA also has guidance about the eligibility criteria for UK government Student Finance. 
If you are an Irish national, there is separate eligibility criteria. Please contact a Welfare Adviser. 

Pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you are:

  • An EU national on the first day of the first academic year of the course (you may also be eligible if you are the relevant family member of someone who is an EU national in the UK); and
  • You have Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or you are awaiting a decision on an application you made to the EUSS by the deadline, or appealing a decision; and
  • You have been ordinarily resident in the UK/EEA/Switzerland/Gibralter for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course (1 September for course starting between September and December); and
  • That residence was not wholly or mainly for the purpose of education

You should be eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan. Please check our guidance on how to apply (look at the EU+ box at the bottom of that web page).  

Migrant workers

If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss national and you meet the eligibility criteria for the category above (Pre-Settled Status) and in addition if you are ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course (this is 1 September for course starting between September and December) you could qualify for a Maintenance Loan in addition to the Tuition Fee Loan if you or a relevant family member are a worker in the UK. In the NHS funded years of the course you could qualify for NHS funding.

The necessary requirements for being deemed a worker are detailed and are explained on page 39 onwards of the SFE Assessing Eligibility guidance. Worker can include employed, self-employed, and in some cases former workers. We also have guidance below about the type of work and hours of work required to meet 'worker' status. If you need help applying, please contact a Welfare Adviser. 

Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss national who has been granted Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme and you meet all of the following criteria on the first day of the first academic year of the course (1 September if your course starts between September and December):

  • ordinarily resident in England 
  • have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom and Islands throughout the three-year period preceding the first day of the first academic year of the course
  • if the three-year residence period referred to above was wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education, you must have been ordinarily resident in the territory comprising the UK, Gibraltar, EEA and Switzerland immediately prior to the start of that period of residence

If you meet all of these requirements you should be eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan and a Maintenance Loan. You should be eligible for NHS funding in the NHS funded years of the course.

If you are an EU national who has been granted Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme but who does not have three years of ordinary residence in the UK and Islands on the first day of the first academic year of the course, but you do have three years of ordinary residence in the UK, Gibraltar, the EEA and Switzerland, you can be eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan only under this category. However check the category above (Migrant workers) as if you meet that criteria you could also get a Maintenance Loan.

Please check our guidance on how to apply (look at the EU+ box at the bottom of that web page).  

Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme
Please check our guidance. If you are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme you must do so by the deadline of 30 June 2021. You will need to evidence your status to Student Finance England or NHS Bursaries if you are applying for funding. Please also note that if you have Pre-Settled Status, absence from the UK can affect your eligibility to later apply for Settled Status - please read our guidance about permitted absences. 

Irish citizens

Irish citizens are free from any restriction on the period for which they may remain in the UK. They are deemed to have ‘settled status’. They do not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Please check the information below to see if you are eligible for Student Finance, and NHS funding in the NHS funded years of the course. Please note that where a category refers to ‘the first day of the first academic year of the course’, for courses that start in September this is defined as 1 September, or for courses that start in January this is defined as 1 January.
If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for full funding, please read the section below that to check if you are eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan only. For all categories you must be studying the course in England. 

Full support (Maintenance Loan and Tuition Fee Loan)

There are two main categories of eligibility. You only need to meet one of these: 

  1. Three years of ordinary residence in the UK or Islands immediately prior to the first day of the first academic year of the course and to be ordinarily resident in England on this date. In order to be eligible for support, your residence in the UK and Islands during the relevant three-year period must not have been wholly or mainly for the purposes of receiving full-time education.; or
  2. To have been resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 and be a worker or self-employed person, or the relevant family member of such a person; and be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of the course; and have been ordinarily resident in the territory comprising the UK, Gibraltar, the EEA and Switzerland throughout the three-year period preceding the first day of the first academic year of the course. Migrant worker status must be maintained throughout the course; where worker status is lost, someone would no longer be eligible for support under this category. Please see our information on Migrant Workers later in this section.

Tuition Fee Loan only

There are two main categories of eligibility. You only need to meet one of these: 

  1. To have been ordinarily resident in the Common Travel Area (the UK, Islands and Ireland) for the three years prior to the first day of the first academic year of the course. You don’t need to be resident in England on that date but you need to be studying the course in England so you would normally be expected to be resident in England by the start of term; or
  2. You must be an Irish Citizen on the first day of the first academic year of the course; and have been resident in the EEA or Switzerland on 31 December 2020 (or have moved to the UK before this date immediately after living in the EEA or Switzerland); and have lived continuously in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar between 31 December 2020 and the start of the course; and have lived in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course; and your residence in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar during the relevant three-year period must not have been wholly or mainly for the purposes of receiving full-time education.

EU/EEA and Swiss nationals starting in the 2020/21 academic year (or earlier)

EU/EEA students starting their Higher Education course up to and including starting in the academic year 2020/21 will be able to access UK government funding on the same basis as they can currently, for the duration of their course.

The NHS has advised us that NHS funding will continue to be available for courses with NHS funded years for students starting their HE course by the 2020/21 academic year.

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/NHS Bursary 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[3] 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/five year period. 

** 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.

You can apply online, which is usually the quickest option or if you prefer to apply on paper, you can download an application form. New students need to complete the PN1 form and continuing students need to complete the PR1 form. If you are a continuing student, but this is your first time applying for Student Finance, complete a PN1 form. 

You may also be required to complete an SFE UK residency form and provide evidence of your residence in the UK for the 5 years before the 1st September of the year in which you start your course, for example a letter from your school, bank statements, payslips etc. 

To apply for a NHS bursary see: https://www.gov.uk/nhs-bursaries/how-to-claim.  

2. Non UK EEA and Swiss Migrant workers and family 

The EEA is all the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

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

  • you must be a non-UK EEA national 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). 

Who counts as an EEA/Swiss worker?

If you are employed or self-employed, you can be eligible as a worker. Please see the UKCISA website for more information on who is a worker and what counts as work and self-employment. 

Employed by Queen Mary or the Students Union?

Students who work for Queen Mary in a job that they only obtained because they are a Queen Mary student, are classed as "ancillary" workers by SFE and therefore not eligible for EEA/Swiss migrant worker status. However, SFE may accept you are a migrant worker if you did not obtain your job solely on the basis of being a Queen Mary student. Contact a Welfare Adviser to talk over your circumstances if you are employed by Queen Mary or the Students Union. Alternatively, if you have a second job outside of the University, this may qualify you instead.

Employed as an Au Pair? 

If you are employed as an Au Pair the standard evidence SFE will request is listed below.

  • 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.

How many hours do I need to be working? 

You should be working at least 10 hours per week for SFE to consider you/your family member as an EEA/Swiss Migrant worker. However, if you/they are working less hours you might still be eligible, so contact a Welfare Adviser for advice.

Can I become eligible if I start working during my course?

Yes, 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). However, if you start work part way through an academic year, you might not get full Student Finance for the whole of that year. You would get the Maintenance Loan from the term after you started employment, not from the date employment began. To be eligible for term 1 you must be working on 1 September, to be eligible for term 2, you must be working on 1 January and to be eligible for term 3 you must be working on 1 April. 

In all circumstances you must have been ordinarily resident in England on 1st September of the year in which you start your course. You will not become eligible, even if you start working, unless you meet this requirement. 

What if I stop working?

If you are the worker, you must continue working throughout your course. If you stop working (or stop working sufficient hours per week) you will lose your eligibilty and your funding will be pro-rated to the time you were working/working sufficient hours. 

If you stop working voluntarily, you will no longer be eligible as an EEA Migrant Worker. 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 your employment has been affected by Covid-19 and you are no longer employed, you may still qualify as a Migrant Worker, if you have been furloughed by your employer. You may also still qualify as a Migrant Worker if you become involuntarily unemployed or are self-employed with no work, and you register with the relevant unemployment office (which is usually the Jobcentre/DWP) under the retention of work status rule.  As above, 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. The rules are complicated so please check with a Welfare Adviser

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

Please also see the SLC guidance Migrant worker evidence for Student Finance England

Study or Work Abroad

If you receive Student Finance on the basis of being an EEA worker, your eligibility 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 an EU national you may still be eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan, please check with . 

Sandwich course placement year 

If you are on a sandwich course, you will usually spend a year of the course on a work placement in the UK. 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 work placement year. This is because your work placement is considered ancillary. Ancillary means the work is part of the course or work you were offered only because you have been accepted on a particular course.

Family Members of EEA Migrant Workers 

If you are the relevant family member of an EEA/Swiss worker, you do not need to be an EEA national yourself to qualify for Student Finance. Who counts as a 'relevant family member'? 

Family of an EEA worker:

  • spouse / civil partner
  • direct descendant (eg child/grandchild) of the EEA worker, or of the EEA worker's spouse / civil partner, who is:
    • under 21 years old; or
    • 21 or over and dependent on the EEA worker or on the EEA worker's spouse / civil partner
  • dependent direct ascendant (eg a parent/grandparent) of the EEA worker, or of the EEA worker's spouse / civil partner

Family of a Swiss worker:

  • spouse / civil partner
  • child

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.

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.

Further help

All Migrant Worker applications are assessed on a case by case basis, and any complex cases will be reviewed with the Department for Education to ensure they are being correctly assessed. If you are unsure about your eligibility please check with a Welfare Adviser.  

How to apply for Student Finance as an EEA/Swiss Migrant Worker

How to apply for Student Finance is explained in the earlier section of this Advice Guide When and how to apply for Student Finance ‘ (ignore the EU+ box). EEA/Swiss Migrant Workers or their family member(s) 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/Swiss worker you will also need to provide documents to prove the family relationships and their worker status.

  • Your original passport, or national identity card, to prove your nationality.
  • If you are applying as the family member of an EEA/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/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.
  • The last 3 months’ payslips. If you have been working for less than 3 months, contact a Welfare Adviser as 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 will request evidence of your continued employment during the year so it's important to keep evidence of your continued work.
  • For subsequent years you will need to reapply using a paper PR1 form. 

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, you should be sent a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) letter. 
  • 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 a Welfare Adviser
  • Most recent tax return (if available). 
  • SFE will ask you to send evidence of continued self-employment during the year so it's important to keep evidence of your continued self-employment. 
  • For subsequent years of study you will need to apply online or using the PR1 application form. 

 

  • 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

Where do I send the documents?

European Economic Area (EEA) Migrant Worker Applications
Student Finance England
PO Box 89
Darlington DL1 9AZ

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?’

 

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


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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