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Financial help for EU students

If you're from another EU country, you can apply for financial help to cover the cost of tuition fees for studying in Northern Ireland, England or Wales. You may also qualify for help with tuition fees.

Help with tuition fees: do you qualify?

EU nationals

As an EU national, or a family member of an EU national, you can generally apply for financial help to cover the cost of tuition fees when studying in Northern Ireland, England, or Wales if:

  • you have been living within the EEA and Switzerland for the three years immediately before the start of your course
  • your main reason for being in the EEA and Switzerland was not to receive full-time education

If you or your parent, guardian or partner were temporarily employed outside the EEA and Switzerland for all or part of the three-year period, you may still qualify for help.

EEA and Swiss migrant workers

You may also apply for financial help with tuition fees if you are an EEA or Swiss migrant worker or self-employed person in the UK. A migrant worker means someone who is working in a different country from their own. Usually, you'll qualify for EEA or Swiss migrant worker status if all the following apply:

  • you are a national of an EEA country or Switzerland
  • you are working in the UK
  • you were ‘ordinarily resident’ in the EEA and Switzerland for three years before starting your course

You may also qualify if you are a family member of a migrant worker in the UK.

Children of Swiss nationals

You may get help with tuition fees if you qualify as the child of a Swiss national. Help is generally available if:

  • you were ordinarily resident in the EEA, Switzerland or Turkey for three years prior to the start of your course
  • you were resident in Northern Ireland on the first day of the academic year in which your course started
  • a child of a Swiss national who is entitled to support in the UK by virtue of article 3(6) of annex 1 to the swiss agreement

Children of Turkish workers

You may get help with tuition fees if you qualify as the child of a ‘Turkish worker’. Help is generally available if:

  • you were ordinarily resident in the EEA, Switzerland or Turkey for three years prior to the start of your course
  • you were resident in Northern Ireland on the first day of the academic year in which your course started
  • you’re the child of a ‘Turkish worker’ in the UK - a Turkish national who is ordinarily resident in the UK, and who is, or has been, lawfully employed in the UK

Your local Student Finance NI office can help with questions about whether you qualify through Swiss or EEA migrant worker status, or as the child of a Turkish worker in the UK.

Extra help with living costs  

You may also be able to apply for help with your living costs, on top of help with fees, if you:

  • have lived in the ‘UK or Islands’ (the UK plus the Channel Islands and Isle of Man ) for three years or more
  • have EEA or Swiss migrant worker status
  • qualify for help as the child of a Swiss national as described above
  • qualify for help as the child of a ‘Turkish worker’, as described above

Does your course and college qualify?  

To receive financial help with your fees, your course should lead to one of these qualifications:

  • first degree, such as a BA, BSc or BEd
  • foundation degree
  • Diploma of Higher Education (DipEd)
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) at level 4

Generally, you can receive financial help if this eligible course takes place at:

  • a UK university
  • a college that receives government funding
  • a specified private institution (ask your university or college if it qualifies)
  • a group of schools taking part in the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) scheme

If you are studying a postgraduate or professional course other than in teaching, different rules apply:

Residency rules

If you have been advised that you are not eligible for student finance for reasons relating to residence, there may be some exceptional circumstances or further evidence you can send to have your application assessed. If you want to check the definitive rules on eligibility, visit:

How repayment works

If you take out a Student Loan for Tuition Fees you don't have to repay the loan until after you leave your course and you are earning over a certain level of income, called the 'repayment threshold'.

The Student Loans Company will work out your monthly repayment schedule using the same principles as for those who stay in the UK.

You will repay nine per cent of your earnings over the repayment threshold. To take account of differences in living costs, the repayment threshold may not be the same as in the UK.

Further information

If you have any questions about whether you qualify for finance as an EU student, contact the Student Finance Services European Team at the Student Loans Company.

If you satisfy the conditions for help with course fees, but not the extra conditions for help with living costs, you will be classed as a European Union (EU) student for applying for finance. See the pages below to find out what help is available.

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