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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Who qualifies for student finance?

There are some conditions you need to meet to qualify for finance. Some are personal, such as your age and where you live, while others are to do with your course and place of study. Find out if you qualify.

Are you eligible for student finance?

Whether you qualify for student finance depends on your personal details and the details of your course and university or college. These include:

  • where you live
  • your university or college
  • your course
  • whether you’ve studied before
  • your age
Where you live

To qualify for student finance as a student from England, you will need to meet all of the residence requirements. Generally, on the first day of the academic year in which your course starts, you must:

  • be a UK national or have 'settled status' in the UK (under the terms of the Immigration Act 1971)
  • be ‘ordinarily resident’ in England
  • have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years immediately before starting the course - and not wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education

Students who are settled in the UK may also be eligible if they have exercised a right of residence in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland before returning to the UK to study.

'Settled status' means that there are no immigration restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.

You’re 'ordinarily resident' in England if it’s where you normally live, even if you live abroad on a temporary basis. If you move from England with your family overseas due to an armed forces posting you’re also considered ‘ordinarily resident’ in England.

But this doesn’t cover all circumstances - even if you don’t meet these criteria, you may still qualify for student finance.

Your university or college

The university or college you plan to study at has to be one of the following:

  • a UK degree-awarding institution
  • a college that receives government funding and provides a course leading to a degree qualification
  • a private institution offering specifically designated higher education courses (ask your university or college if it qualifies)
  • a group of schools taking part in the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) scheme
Your course

To be eligible for student finance your course should lead to one of the following qualifications:

  • first degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts, Science or Education (BA, BSc or BEd)
  • Foundation Degree
  • Certificate of Higher Education
  • Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)

You’ll also usually qualify if you’re studying one of the following courses:

  • Initial Teacher Training
  • the further training of youth and community workers

From 1 September 2012, eligibility for student finance for part-time courses depends on the 'intensity' being at least 25 per cent of a full-time course. For example, if your course takes six years to complete and the full-time equivalent takes three, the intensity will be 50 per cent. Ask your university or college if you’re not sure.

Further education and postgraduate courses don’t qualify for standard student finance - apart from special cases, like certain postgraduate courses of Initial Teacher Training.

Whether you've studied before

You’ll usually only be able to get student finance if you’re doing a first higher education qualification. In some cases, you can also get student finance if you’re ‘topping up’ a lower-level higher education qualification. For example, if you have a foundation degree, HNC or HND you may still qualify for student finance to study for an honours degree.

This will often mean financial help for the length of your course - plus, if necessary, one extra year to cover any false starts or transfers.

If you already hold a qualification of an equal level to the one you’ll be studying you may not get student finance. For example, if you have an HND in history but will be studying for an HND in English, this is referred to as an ‘Equivalent Level Qualification’ (ELQ). See the Equivalent Level Qualification fact sheet for further information.

Your age

To qualify for a student loan to help with accommodation and living costs (called the Maintenance Loan), you need to be aged under 60 when you start your course.

There’s no upper age limit to qualify for grants or the Tuition Fee Loan.

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