A guide to UK tuition fees for EU students
‘Tuition Fees’. The words alone are enough to send a cold shiver down the spines of all students across the UK. It’s one of the most important aspects of becoming a student, and is a crucial one that you need to get to know whether you like it or not.
The problem for most students is that the UK Tuition Fee system can seem like a massive source of aggravation to get your head around. All that technical jargon, rules and officialdom is enough to put anyone off at first glance.
The problem is worse still if English is your second language and you have to decipher these strange words.
This guide will seek to explain the UK Tuition Fee system in a simple and easy way for current European Union (EU) students, or future EU students to understand.
The first thing to note is that you are not expected to know or remember everything. Use this guide as much as you like. Read it, read it again, refer back to it, and ask questions if you are still unsure on something.
Don’t be daunted or scared by the system. Once we put it all together, it WILL make sense to you.
And remember… ASK questions if you are still unsure. There is no shame in asking. It is better to get it right first time (with help) if that is what it takes.
Which foreign students get help with tuition fees?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you from any other EU country excluding the UK?
- Are you a foreign worker from a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland and currently working in the UK?
- Are you the child of a Turkish worker who lives in the UK?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above 3 questions, you may be able to apply for help with tuition fees if you are looking to study in the UK.
It is worth mentioning at this stage, that by the ‘UK’ we mean: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As well as getting help with your tuition fees, you may also be lucky enough to apply for additional help with certain living costs (also known as a ‘Maintenance Loan’) in certain circumstances.
Note: If you’re not sure whether your country is part of the EU, then click here to see if it is listed as a Member State.
The EEA includes all Member States of the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Switzerland also applies here, but has different arrangements.
Information for EU students
If you are a current EU student looking for some more answers, or if you are a foreign student who is thinking about coming to the UK to study, you need to know a few things about the tuition fee system, and whether or not you satisfy the eligibility requirements to apply for help with those fees.
Take a look below to see if you meet the requirements to apply for a loan. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you an EU national? (This means you hold either; an EU National Identity Card, or a valid EU Member State Passport)
- If not, is a member of your family an EU national? (For example, your wife, husband, civil partner, parent or grandparent)
- Does the course you are applying for (or studying) meets the requirements for a tuition fee loan? (see below for more information on this)
If you meet these points, you can apply for help with your tuition fees in the form of a loan.
Note: By the way, if the country you come from joins the European Union, you, or a family member, will become an EU national. Even if you weren’t a EU national at the time you started studying, you will be treated as a EU national from the start of your course. If this is the case, you should check with Student Finance to see if you are able to apply for a loan for your tuition fees.
More help may be on the way!
If you satisfy the above points, you may also be able to get some added help with those pesky living costs if you can meet the additional points below.
- You have been living in the UK for 3 years or more before you start your course
- You will be living in the UK on the first day of the academic year that your course starts. (You should check what this date is with your university, but it is usually the 1st September, 1st January, 1st April or 1st July)
- Whilst living in the UK, you weren’t here for the purposes of studying. (For example, you may have been working here, or emigrating)
Note: If you meet ALL of the above points (including the additional help points), you will have to apply in a slightly different way. You will be expected to apply in the same way as any other English student does. For more help on this try reading this great Save the Student tuition fee guide.
Where can you get more help?
If you need more help, then you should call Student Finance on 0141 243 3570.
EEA and Swiss Workers and their families
You may be a migrant worker yourself, or perhaps you are a family member of a migrant worker from one of the EEA countries (see link above), or Switzerland.
If this is the case, then you also may be entitled to get help with your tuition fees and living costs. Take note of the following and ask yourself:
- Are you a Swiss national?
- Are you a national from any other EEA country? (This means you hold a valid EEA country Passport, or a valid EU National Identity Card)
- Are you a family member of a Swiss national?
- Are you a family member of a national from any other EEA country?
- Have you lived in Switzerland, or any other EEA country, for at least three years before the date your course begins?
- Are you currently working in the United Kingdom? (England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland)
- Will you be living in the United Kingdom on the first day you start university or college? (You should check with your university what day this is)
- Does the course you are applying for fulfil the eligibility requirements for a tuition fee loan? (see below)
If you can satisfy some of the above points, you can look to apply for a loan to cover the cost of your tuition fees.
If you are wondering what ‘working’ means, essentially you can be either; a part-time or full-time paid worker, self-employed worker, or a worker who may reside abroad in one of the EEA countries, or Switzerland, but works in the UK. For the last part, you, or your family member must return home at least once a week to qualify.
Note: Did you know that if you are the child of Swiss national, your parent does not have to have had any economic involvement or activity within the UK for you to apply? It’s true.
Where can you get more help?
If you need more help, then you should call Student Finance on 0845 300 50 90.
Information for children of Turkish workers
You may be the child of a worker from Turkey who is looking to study in the UK. If this is the case, it’s good news, as you also may be able to apply for a loan to cover your tuition fees whilst at university or college.
Ask yourself the following:
- Is your parent a Turkish national?
- Does your parent ordinarily live or work in the UK?
- Have you been living in the UK for at least three years prior to the start date of your course?
- If not, have you been living in any other EEA country, Turkey or Switzerland for at least three years prior to the start date of your course?
- Will you be living in the UK on the first day that your course starts? (You should check what this date is with your university, but it is usually the 1st September, 1st January, 1st April or 1st July)
- Does the course you are applying for meets the eligibility requirements for a tuition fee loan? (see below for more information on this)
Note: If you can answer ‘Yes’ to the above points, your application process will be different. If this is the case, you will be expected to apply for a tuition fee loan in the same way an English student does. For more information on this, try reading this great tuition fee article.
Where can you get more help?
If you need more help, then you should call 0845 300 50 90 to speak to someone from Student Finance.
Is your course eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan?
Information about your course (Part 1)
Yes, there is more to come. Stay with us!
If you have read this far, you will likely have met all of the above points that are relevant to you. However, you may now be wondering whether the course you want to study (or will be studying) meets the conditions for a tuition fee loan.
So, once again, let’s go through this step-by-step to make it easier to understand.
Ask yourself the following:
- Does your course take place at a university in the UK?
- Does your course take place at a college that receives funding from the UK Government? (This means no private colleges or establishments)
- Does your course take place at a private institution that offers certain Higher Education courses that are specially created? (You will probably already know this if you are applying, but it is worth asking your university or college if it qualifies)
- Is the institution you are attending (or applying to study at) involved in the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) scheme? (Again, you should know this, but check with your individual institutions for more information on this)
Note: If you answered ‘Yes’ to ANY one of the above points, then continue reading. If you cannot meet at least one of the above points, then unfortunately, you cannot get help with your tuition fees.
Information about your course (Part 2)
So far, you have met all of the above points in Part 1, hooray! Now you need to ask yourself some further questions about your course. What do we mean?
Well, your course must lead to you gaining certain qualifications in order for you to get help with your fees or any other help. If the course you are studying (or will be studying) leads to one of these prestigious qualifications, you should be fine:
- A degree (like a Bachelors, Masters or PhD for example)
- A foundation degree
- A Diploma of Higher Education (DipEd)
- A Higher National Diploma (HND)
- A Higher National Certificate (HNC)
- A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
- Initial Teacher Training (ITT)
Good news! (& bad news)
If your course leads to one of the above qualifications, and you meet all of the above points that are relevant to you, you should be able to get help with your tuition fees!
Is this your first Degree? If you have already earned a degree previously from the UK, then you may not be able to get help. If this is the case, then click here for information on who you should contact.
Are you studying at Postgraduate level? If you will be studying for a postgraduate course (other than a PGCE as listed above), then the rules again are slightly different. Click here for information on how you can go about getting funding at Postgraduate level.
EU student tuition fee amounts
So, whilst going through all of the above, you may be wondering; How does it all work for EU students in the UK? How do you pay for your tuition fees? How much does it cost? How do you pay it back (eventually)?
Like everything else in life, there are different rules for different people and situations.
From September 1st 2012, the tuition fees for universities and colleges will be different from previous years. Let’s have a brief look at the facts below:
- Tuition Fees Loans are paid directly to your university or college (You will never see the money yourself)
- Full-time students can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000
- Full-time distance-learning students can also apply for Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,000
- Part-time students can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £6,750
- Full-time students studying a course at a private university or college can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £6000 (This has to be an ‘approved course’. You should check with your individual institution whether it is classed as one or not)
- Part-time students studying a course at a private university or college can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £4,500 (This has to be an ‘approved course’. You should check with your individual institution whether it is classed as one or not)
- You start to pay back your loan after you have left university or college
- You start to pay back your loan after you are earning a salary of £21,000 or more
- You will have to pay back interest on your loan
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, I did say free money!
In addition to Tuition Fee Loans and loans for living costs (Maintenance Loans), you may also be able to apply for FREE money through educational grants or charities. There are essentially two types of grants:
Bursaries are monetary awards given to a student by an individual, or institution, to help them with their education. Usually these are awarded based on individual circumstances. For example, a student or family who is on a particularly low income.
Scholarships are usually merit-based awards, which means that they are awarded to students who show the desire and abilities to get great grades, or succeed in their studies. They may be awarded by individuals, or institutions, and act as a sponsorship to that student.
Remember: Bursaries and Scholarships are awards, which means you do not have to pay them back – ever!
Save the Student has much more information about scholarships and bursaries here.
Applying for a UK student loan
So, when should you look at applying for a loan?
Had enough of all this money talk yet? Don’t worry we’re nearly done.
If all the above wasn’t enough to cope with, you also need to know a few more things about the application process.
If you are a student from another EU country and you are ready to apply for help with your tuition fees, and/or living costs, then you must complete a paper application and send your application off before the deadline.
Not sure when your deadline is? You have up to 9 months after the start of the academic year to apply.
Note: You should also check with your individual university or college when your academic year starts, as it doesn’t always mean it’s the first day your course starts. However, it is likely to be either; 1st September, 1st January, 1st April or 1st July.
How do I go about applying for a loan?
This is the part that is likely to take you the longest. No one particularly enjoys filling out lengthy forms, but if you want to be a student, you will soon get enough practice in completing your fair share of them.
Remember, if you are the child of a Turkish worker, or an EU student applying for additional help as well as help with your tuition fees, you can ignore this. You need to apply for help the same way as a student from England does (more advice here).
Everyone else, follow these steps:
- Complete the application form by the deadline
- Once completed, you should send your application form to:
Student Finance Services European Team
PO BOX 89
What else you should know
It is not unusual to be asked to submit or provide evidence as part of your application. This may include:
- An original Passport from your home country
- An EU National Identity Card
- Original Home Office paperwork (for refugees or if you have ‘leave to enter’ or ‘leave to remain’ status in the United Kingdom)
- An original certificate of your birth
- Copies of your P60 or other financial/tax information
Pay close attention to what you are asked to provide as evidence. If you are asked to provide original copies then you must not provide photocopies. This is really important, and if you complete the application form incorrectly, it may cause a long delay in getting your money sorted.
What happens after you’ve finished it all?
When you’ve finally completed the exhausting mission of filling out your application form, you should check that everything is correct. This is crucial to avoid delays, or from it being rejected.
Check, double check, and check it again. It is also worth getting someone else to go over it for a second opinion. Often, other people will spot something you may have missed.
Once you are happy that everything is correct, you need to send your application to the address provided above.
After you have sent your application form off, you can expect Student Finance to let you know when they have received your application, work out what loans you can get or may be entitled to, work out how much your loan is, provide you with information on your loans and, finally, pay the money direct to your institution that you will be studying at.
How long does it take?
It is difficult to estimate how long individual applications take to process. However, if you are worried, you should contact Student Finance at the relevant numbers listed above.
It is advised that if you have not heard anything from Student Finance within a month from submitting your application, then give them a follow-up call to find out what has happened to your application and, if any, what stage it is at.
What to do if anything changes in your life
Whilst waiting for your application to be processed, or indeed, even when you have arrived at university, there may be something in your life that changes. In certain circumstances, you may need to tell Student Finance of these changes as it may affect your loans.
For example, if your income, or family situation changes, or if you change courses or universities, you will need to let Student Finance know this information. There may be many other reasons that you need to tell them about, so keep this in mind if anything does change.
If you are worried or not sure whether you should inform Student Finance of any changes, it is always best to give them a call and let them know anyway.
Note: If you are a full-time student, you can notify Student Finance of any changes.
Extra tools and help
Here at Save the Student we’ve compiled a few quick links to some other tools and help pages that you may choose to use in assisting you with learning about Student Finance and tuition fees.
Please click on any of the items below to take you directly to the page.
For help with adding up those student loans
For help on studying in the UK as an international student
Rules may be different for students studying in Wales – check here
Rules may be different for students studying in Scotland – check here
Rules may be different for students studying in Northern Ireland – check here
UK Council for International Students Affairs