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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 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 or an NHS Bursary. 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 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

*to be ordinarily resident means to be habitually, normally and lawfully living somewhere 

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’) or a Tuition Fee Grant from the NHS (see the NHS Bursary Scheme New Rules). If you are not an EU national but there is an EU national in your family, you might still qualify for Tuition Fee help. The rules are complicated so please contact a contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service. 

Some EU nationals can also apply for the living costs elements of UK Student Finance/NHS Bursary. There are two main categories of eligibility: 

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

For all applicants applying on or after 25 March 2016, 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** year (for SFE applications) or three year (for NHS applications) 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 three or 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. 

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. However, Croatians should also read important additional information later in this section called ‘Croatian nationals’

To be eligible for Student Finance/NHS Bursary 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, 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 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/NHS Bursary 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/NHS Bursary for the whole of that year 
    • Someone who is actively looking for work, and has previously worked in the UK, might also be considered a worker. If you cease work voluntarily, you would normally lose your worker status and, as a result, your eligibility for Student Finance/NHS Bursary. 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 are self-employed, you can be eligible as a worker. 
    • If you are applying for Student Finance/NHS Bursary 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 or an NHS Bursary 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) and the New Student section of the NHS student bursaries website. Students who are applying for Student Finance as an EEA/Swiss Migrant Worker or their family member can apply online

Documents you will need 

You will need to provide Student Finance / NHS 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 you 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 / NHS requires. 

    • 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/ NHS 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/NHS will accept official copies. Who can certify documents and what they must write on the copy of the document is explained here: https://www.gov.uk/certifying-a-document

    • Evidence that you, or your relevant family member, are employed.

 You 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 Adviser for advice

- 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 

- Please note that SFE will also require you to provide a payslip for December in order for your January instalment of Student Finance to be released, and your March payslip in order for your April instalment to be released. Until you have provided these payslips, your payments will be blocked.

Because you have to provide evidence that you are working at the start of each semester, this means that 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. 

    • 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 Student Finance/NHS might ask you to provide it later. Examples of documents you could provide include a tenancy agreement, or payslips, or bank statements. 
    • A letter written by you, explaining how you meet the eligibility requirements for Student Finance/NHS 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. Please select either the Student Finance or NHS template letter

  Make sure you complete the relevant section 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 Student Finance England/the NHS. It is usually a good idea to send your application by special delivery post so you can track delivery: https://www.royalmail.com/track-your-item

Au Pairs

If you are employed as an Au Pair the standard evidence SFE will request is: 

    •  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 

Croatian nationals

Until 30 June 2018 there were 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 the Part Time and Vacation Work guide. 

Previously, Student Finance refused most applications for the full package of Student Finance, under the EEA Migrant Worker category explained above, from Croatian nationals who are subject to work authorisation. This is because of the way that the laws are written in relation to worker status. So, you may only be eligible for the Tuition Fee Loan for EU students instead. However, case law often changes how laws are interpreted, so if you are Croatian and you are working in the UK with work authorisation, please contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about whether you might be eligible to apply for the full package of Student Finance as an EEA worker. 

After you have applied

If your application for Student Finance/NHS Bursary 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. 

Other categories of eligibility

There are some other categories of people who are, in certain circumstances, eligible for the full package of Student Finance/NHS Bursary. The rules about which family members count, and where and when you need to have been resident, are complicated so before you apply, please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service who will check your eligibility and help you to apply. If you are waiting for a decision on an application for asylum, please see a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for advice about your options.

You might be eligible for Student Finance/NHS Bursary if:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

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 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

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. 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. 

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.

This is just 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. You can also read an overview of the categories of eligibility for student finance on the UKCISA website and those for the NHS Bursary eligibility in the NHS Bursary Scheme New Rules.

[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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