This information explains about SFE funding entitlements for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who are coming to the UK to study or who already live here. It also applies to some family members eg children and spouses. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) also provide useful information about funding as well as immigration, EU rights, medical treatment/healthcare and working in the UK. Please also read our general information for EU students too.
Note: Even though the UK has started the process of leaving the EU, there are no immediate changes in the way that people move, trade or study. It is important to emphasise that until the UK formally leaves the EU, EU law will continue to apply within the UK.
The UK Government announced on 21 April 2017 that EU students applying for university places in the 2018/19 academic year, as well as those starting in 2017/18, will remain eligible for financial support even if the course concludes after the UK’s exit from the EU.
EU students are also eligible for home fee status, which means they are charged the same tuition fees as UK students. Other non-EU, international students do not have their tuition fees capped in this way.
The following information contains these references:
- The first day of the first academic year of the course. For courses that start in September this is always the 1 September. For courses that start in January it is the 1 January.
- Where mentioned, residence in the UK, EU, EEA, Switzerland or overseas territories within the last three (or five) years must not have been wholly or mainly for education purposes.
- EU nationals are nationals of the EU member states as listed on Gov.uk EEA nationals include EU nationals and also includes nationals of Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.
- Migrant Workers are EU/EEA or Swiss nationals who are working in the UK.
Paying the Home/UK rate of tuition
There are a number of ways to qualify for home fee status.
You can qualify if you are an EU national and have been resident in the either the UK, EEA, Switzerland or overseas territories for at least three consecutive years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of your course.
If you are a national of Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein or Switzerland, you may also be eligible for the home rate of tuition fee if you:
- have been resident in the EEA or Switzerland or overseas territories for at least the three consecutive years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of your course and,
- are resident in the UK and working in the UK (as a migrant worker) by this date and
- you continue to work in the UK during your course.
If you are the relevant family member of a EU/EEA/Swiss migrant worker, you may also be eligible to pay the home fee if you also meet the residence requirements.
If you do not meet the above rules then there are other ways to qualify. The eligibility rules for home fee status are complex. To find out more, look at the fee status information on the UKCISA website.
Your tuition fee status will be assessed by the Admissions Office once you have a course offer. Should you have questions about your fee status before this, or if you are assessed to pay the overseas rate of tuition fee but believe you should be a home fee payer, contact Admissions and request a fee assessment or contact Student Advice to discuss your eligibility.
Student Finance England Funding
EU nationals and EEA and Swiss nationals may be eligible for Student Finance England (SFE) funding. Some relevant family members may also be eligible.
Student Finance England (SFE) provide funding for full-time undergraduate degree courses, part-time undergraduate degree courses and postgraduate degree courses.
The SFE funding available to you also depends on whether you are awarded funding on the basis of being an EU student or because you meet the rules as a UK/home student.
Student Finance England (SFE) only consider funding EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who are resident in an EU/EEA country on 1 September immediately before the start of their course or who are already resident in England by this date. If you usually live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and will only be moving to England to study you may not be entitled to funding from SFE and may have to apply to one of the following instead:
Note: Even if you meet the eligibility requirements for SFE funding but have previous study and/or already hold the same level equivalent qualification or higher this will reduce or even eliminate your SFE funding entitlement for your course. It does not matter if you studied for or obtained the qualification in another country. Please see our previous studies page for further details.
Previous study at degree level in the UK or abroad and how this affects funding.
In most cases if you already have a qualification that is equivalent to or higher than a UK Honours degree, you will not qualify for any SFE funding for a new course except for the additional grants for dependents or disability. You will have to pay the tuition fees for the entire course yourself.
If you obtained a qualification below a UK Honours degree eg an ordinary degree, HND or HNC, your Tuition Fee Loan entitlement for a new course is reduced. It does not matter whether you attended that course on a full-time or part-time basis.
If you have previously attended a full-time higher education course but did not complete it and did not obtain a qualification, your entitlement to receive the Tuition Fee Loan is also reduced and you may have to pay your own tuition fees for some or your entire course.
It does not matter whether you attended or obtained your qualification in the UK or in a different country.
For further information about how previous study and qualifications affect your funding, visit our previous study page.
Applying as an EU student
EU nationals ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for the three consecutive years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of their course can apply for:
An (SFE) EU Tuition Fee Loan for undergraduate study (for full-time or part-time courses). No other SFE loans or grants are available to help with living costs, children, adult dependents or disability.
An SFE Postgraduate Loan is available for postgraduate degree courses (full-time or part-time). This can be used to pay tuition fees and/or living costs. No other SFE loans or grants are available to help with living costs, children, adult dependents or disability.
If you currently live or have been living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland this may affect who you apply to for your funding. Contact Student Advice to discuss your circumstances.
Nationals of Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein or Switzerland cannot apply for either of these loans as they are not EU nationals themselves.
Students who are not UK or EU nationals themselves may be eligible if they are:
- a relevant family member of an EU national who is living in the UK as a self-sufficient person or student or,
- a relevant family member of a UK national.
A relevant family member can be a husband, wife, child under 21 or dependent child over 21 and they must still meet specific residency requirements. For a detailed explanation of the SFE eligibility rules and ways to qualify for funding, visit the UKCISA webpage on applying in England.
It’s always worth checking whether you are eligible for funding as a UK/home student as the funding is more generous. If you meet the additional eligibility rules to apply for SFE funding as a UK/home student, you may be eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan AND additional loans and grants to help with your living/study costs or disability needs. You should only apply as a UK/Home student if you believe you meet the additional eligibility rules. These are more complex. See the section below for information about applying for funding as a UK/Home student.
SFE only allow one application to be made and assessed at a time. One application will cancel the other. However, if you apply as an EU national or family member first, are awarded the EU fee loan but later realise you are also eligible to apply as a UK/Home student, you can make a second application as a UK/Home student.
Contact Student Advice for help if you are unsure of your SFE eligibility if you encounter problems with your application or you are refused funding.
How to apply:
Undergraduate students: To apply for the EU Tuition Fee Loan for a full or part-time undergraduate course, you must complete a paper application form. Do not apply online. You can download the application forms from the Gov.uk website. You do not need a UK National Insurance Number to make these applications.
Postgraduate students: Applications can be made online on Gov.uk.
Applying as a UK/Home student
Instead of applying as an EU national (see above), you may be eligible to apply for funding as a UK/home student if you meet additional eligibility rules and could be entitled to a Tuition Fee Loan and other additional loans and grants:
For undergraduate degree courses SFE provide a Tuition Fee Loan, a Maintenance Loan for living/studying costs and if relevant, additional grants for dependent children, adult dependants and a Disabled Students Allowance. A Maintenance Grant is also available but only if you began your course before September 2016.
For part-time undergraduate degree courses, SFE provides a Tuition Fee Loan and, if relevant, a Disabled Student Allowance.
For some postgraduate level courses SFE provides a Postgraduate Loan and, if relevant, a Disabled Students Allowance.
Being awarded funding as a UK/Home student may also mean you can apply to the University LESS fund.
If you are an EU national resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course you may be eligible to apply as a UK/Home student if:
- You are an EU national and have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for a minimum of five consecutive years leading up to and including the first day of the first academic year of your course, and your residence has not been primarily for education purposes. SFE will require evidence of your residence. There must be no gaps in the evidence provided or the application could be refused. These are examples of the type of documents SFE can consider: Council Tax Bills showing your name, receipt of benefits such as Income Support, Housing Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance, wage slips, original bank statements, utility bills.
- You have acquired the right of permanent resident in the UK and have remained resident in the UK throughout the three years immediately before the first day of the first academic year of your course. EU nationals can only acquire the right of permanent residence after they have lived in the UK five years meet the other requirements. Visit Gov.uk for further information.
- SFE accept that you are an EEA migrant worker, working in the UK and you continue to work in the UK throughout the course. Students who don’t work themselves but are relevant family members of EEA migrant workers may also be eligible. This is explained in more detail below.
For a full explanation of the SFE eligibility rules and all the ways to qualify for funding, visit the applying in England page on the UKCISA website.
Applying as either an EU, EEA or a Migrant Worker
If you work in the UK, you may also be eligible for funding under the migrant worker rules. You do not need three or more years of residence in the UK to be considered under this route.
To be considered as a Migrant Worker you must be:
- an EU, EEA national or Swiss national (this includes nationals of Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) and,
- resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course. This is regarded as 1 September so if you are starting a course in September 2017 you must have evidence that you were resident in the UK on and before 1 September 2017 and;
- have been ordinarily resident in the EEA or Switzerland for at least three consecutive years by this date and,
- must be working in the UK and continue to work in the UK throughout your course. SFE will ask for evidence of your employment in September and will request evidence of your continued work at the start of each term. They will base their decision on your earnings and your employment. If they believe your earnings are too low, they will not accept that you are a genuine migrant worker and will refuse your application.
You can also apply as a migrant worker if you start working during your course but may not be eligible for the full annual rate of Maintenance Loan and additional grants. There are also special rules for migrant workers who have been made redundant or have been working in a job in an area related to their course but have to give this up in order to study. Students who are family members of migrant workers may also be eligible.
The eligibility rules, application process and evidence required is explained in more detail in our guide for Migrant Workers:
How to apply for Funding as either a UK/Home Student or a Migrant Worker
- Undergraduate students: If this is your first SFE application, you can choose to apply online or use the paper application for home students. This is available from Student Finance England. If you already receive the EU Fee Loan, you cannot apply online and must apply using the paper application form for home students instead. There are also additional separate forms to submit if you are applying for the Childcare Grant and/or the Disabled Students Allowance.
- If you already receive the SFE EU Tuition Fee Loan and make a second SFE application as a UK/home student or migrant worker, your EU Tuition Fee Loan application will be cancelled. If the fee loan has been paid to the University, SFE will reclaim this. Your new application will be considered and if this is successful, the fee loan will be repaid to the University and you will be paid the additional loans and grants available to you. If the application is unsuccessful, you will have to re-apply for the EU Tuition Fee Loan.
- Postgraduate students: Applications can be made online on Gov.uk or on paper. There is one application process but again an additional form has to be submitted if you are applying for the Disabled Students Allowance. It is not clear how SFE will identify you are an EU student or as a UK home student. If you require the Disabled Students Allowance or would like to apply for the LESS fund, you must be accepted as a home/UK student. You will need to check this with SFE once you have applied and may need to send additional evidence to prove you meet the requirements.
Further help and advice
Contact Student Advice if you are unsure about your eligibility, have further questions or complications occur with your funding application.