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In This Guide
The vast majority of colleges and universities within the UK – if not all – are widely welcoming to overseas students and those who may have residential status in the UK but who may have been born elsewhere.
For those born in or with EU status, too, there is plenty of room for support and guidance – and while certain rules may change after the UK leave the European Union in the near future, these students are, at least for now, also able to gain a wealth of support when it comes to funding their education.
It is likely that a similar system may be set up and supported once the UK leaves the EU – but for now, the following guide will help you to understand what, and how much, you may be entitled to claim as an EU student undertaking education within the UK.
Tuition Fee Loans
As with students born and studying within the UK, you may be able to get access to certain finance to help cover your tuition fees – whether you are an undergraduate, a postgraduate, or if you are studying at a variety of levels, EU nationals and those related to EU nationals may still be able to apply for certain loans and grants. Loans in this form are just that – temporary cash assistance which you will be required to pay back at a later date through your income. While there are also bursaries and grants available which you won’t be expected to pay back, these financial assists are in place to ensure that EU students and those who are studying in the UK as a national citizen can effectively cover the cost of study for each year they undertake.
It’s important to note that, generally, you may need to have been resident in the UK for at least three years before the start of your course – certain other rules may also apply if you are studying in Scotland, though there are further benefits to studying north of the border if you are an EU national – and we will cover those in a little more detail further down.
Maintenance loans refer to temporary grants that can be supplied to you if you need help with covering the cost of living. Moving away to college or university for the first time can be daunting, but it is also a big first step in terms of adult independence – as such, you may not necessarily have the finance available to ensure that you can live freely and pay for certain bills and costs while you are supporting yourself.
Therefore, there are a few weights and measures that can be undertaken to make sure that you receive a fair amount to help cover you for the cost of living while at study. It isn’t always possible to work enough to earn money to cover living costs as a student – and while finance options are available to those students who are taking on education both full time and part time, it’s important to seek out this type of support if you feel that you could stand to benefit.
Maintenance loans are, again, repayable and will be required to be paid back at a later date. These types of loan are also based on your household income – and we will look into this a little bit more below.
Parents and Partners
Regardless of whether you are a UK national or an EU national, maintenance loans will depend upon a certain amount of evidence with regard to household income. This means that, whether you are living with parents or with a partner, they may be required to submit a certain amount of detail with regard to the household’s income for the previous tax year. This is so that it can be fairly determined whether or not you have capital available to support yourself, or if you do stand to benefit from a maintenance loan being offered to you.
Parents and partners will therefore be requested to support a student’s application so that they can effectively ensure that they receive the finance they are applying for. You can apply for finance online or via phone, though you will be required to submit household income in the form of paper or digital evidence.
It’s important to apply early and to have this information forwarded as soon as you can – so that a decision can be made on your eligibility as soon as physically possible. Do always obtain permission from those supporting you, too!
Depending upon where you are and what you do when you graduate or finish your course, you will be required to keep up with loan repayments – and this applies to EU students as well as those who are born and residing within the UK. You won’t be required to start paying back your loan, typically, until the April after you graduate – and you will then notice a deduction on your salary, if you are living and working in the UK, each month. If you are paid each month via payroll you will start to notice deductions being made.
If you have studied in Scotland, you will need to start paying back your loan if you are earning over £18,330 – and over £25,000 if you are studying elsewhere in the UK. Generally, you will notice that around 9% of your income, above your applicable threshold, will be deducted to pay towards your loan balance.
In Scotland, you’ll also be subject to 1% interest each year, and your debt will be erased after 35 years. In the rest of the UK, your debt will be erased after 30 years, but you will be subject to 3% interest year on year. If you are filing a tax return as a self-employed trader, you will also need to account for a payment towards student loans if you earn above the applicable threshold.
If you move abroad after your course and are neither self-employed nor employed on payroll in the UK, you will be required to make arrangements with the student loans company to make payments directly. This, in a similar fashion to deductions made from your salary, will require you to set up a plan that will fit your budget and your income.
EU Students and Scotland
Scotland offers free tuition to certain students outright – following the EU referendum in 2016, Scottish representatives advised that those studying in the country, from the EU (and not from elsewhere in the UK) – would be able to study for free without having to worry about repaying any money for tuition. This means that everything, effectively, is covered by the government – though you may still wish to apply for certain grants and loans if you need help with the cost of living, for example – or if you look after children or are disabled.
Other Help Available – and Other Bursaries
EU students also have access to a wide range of alternative financial support in the UK when it comes to education. There are more than loans alone being offered – as you may be able to get extra help with the cost of studying and living should you care for a child, be a dependent, if you are disabled, or if require additional support. There is plenty of information available on the types of bursary and awards open for application through GOV.UK, The Student Room and a variety of bodies and institutions set up to help.
There will also be the option for you to apply for certain scholarships and awards, depending upon the type of field you are going to study in. For example, you may be able to appeal to arts authorities or museums and related charities if you are set to study in the arts or humanities – many bodies are primed to give bursaries and non-repayable grants to students at all levels and of all ages.
It is well worth appealing to registered charities who are relevant to your area of study or expertise. With scholarships, too, you will need to discuss options with the institution you are attending. If you show particular promise in a given field or show aptitude to make a big difference in a certain industry or specialism, you may be awarded additional funding to help support your career.
Other Avenues for Support
There is now more information and guidance available online than ever before when it comes to finding the right student finance for you – and while things are set to change with regard to the UK’s relationship with the EU, there will still be options available for you moving forward.
At present, your best ports of call for further advice will be the student loans company and/or institution you are applying to, a Citizens’ Advice Bureau (who will help you to budget effectively and to apply for the right support), The Student Room’s helpful online guides and even the institution you are applying to study at. Admissions teams are available to ensure you get access to help!