Your Student Finance England (SFE) funding entitlement and your tuition fee status is affected if you are waiting for the Home Office to confirm your immigration status in the UK or you have been granted discretionary leave or other time-limited immigration status.

If this applies to you and you are intending to use SFE funding to pay your course tuition fees or fund your study and living costs, it’s very important you check your eligibility to receive funding before you start your course.

Eligibility for funding

Your fee status is assessed once you have accepted a course offer. Please be aware that the University fee decision and the SFE funding decision are made independent of each other.

Student Finance England (SFE) provide funding for undergraduate courses and some postgraduate degree courses. You must meet their eligibility rules to qualify.

If your home is in another part of the UK, visit one of these websites:

Discretionary leave does not automatically entitle a person to receive SFE funding or pay the lower home rate of tuition fee. 

However, if you hold discretionary leave or another form of Home Office Leave, you may qualify for SFE funding under the Long Residence Category.  This depends on the length of time you have lived in the UK and whether the last three years within the UK have been lawful.

To be eligible for SFE funding under the long residence category you must be a resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course and hold a form of Home Office leave, for example, discretionary leave and have been resident in the UK and Islands throughout the three-year period immediately before the first day of the first academic year of your course and are either:

  • under 18 years old and have lived in the UK for at least 7 years before the first day of the first academic year of your course; or
  • aged 18 years and above and have either spent at least half your 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.

In either case, you must also be able to demonstrate that your three years’ ordinary residence in the UK immediately preceding the beginning of the first day of the first academic year of your course was lawful and you were not overstaying/in the UK without any immigration status. You must provide evidence of this as well as documentary evidence of your long UK residence.

The first day of the first academic year is always defined as 1 September for courses that start in September or 1 January for courses that start in January.

If you are not a UK national and have limited leave to remain in the UK or no leave at all it is important you contact Student Advice to discuss your eligibility before you start your course as this is a complex area. Do not enrol on your course until you seek advice as you will be legally liable to pay your tuition fees even if you are not eligible for Student Finance. 

If you meet the eligibility rules but have previously studied on a higher education course anywhere in the world, this will reduce the number of years you can receive SFE funding. If you already hold a qualification at a level equivalent or higher to the course you wish to study at Westminster, you will not be entitled to SFE funding for a new course even if you meet all the other qualifying conditions. Read more on the previous studies page.

More information

You can find more information about the qualifying rules for home fees and the student funding eligibility rules for undergraduate study by checking the information on our funding pages and on the UKCISA site.

If you are unsure of your entitlements and would like to discuss this, please get in touch with Student Advice.