UK tuition fees for EU students
Are you an EU student baffled by the UK tuition fee system? We don't blame you, and Brexit sure isn't making it any easier. Our complete guide takes you through everything you need to know.
Following Brexit, the financial support for EU students in the UK is changing.
If you're starting a course in the 2021/22 academic year or later, you'll no longer have home fee status – that means you'll be charged the same, higher fees as other non-EU international students, and you'll no longer have access to the UK Student Finance system to help pay for it all.
So, if you're planning to start studying in the UK in 2021/22 or later, you'll need to check out our guide to tuition fees for international students instead.
However, if you started studying in the UK in the 2020/21 academic year or earlier, you will likely still have home fee status, and should do until the end of your degree – even if it ends after 2020/21. If that's you, read on for everything you need to know about how much you'll pay, and what funding you're entitled to.
What's in this guide?
- Can EU students get Student Loans in the UK?
- Can EU students apply for a Maintenance Loan in the UK?
- Which university courses are eligible for Student Finance?
- UK university fees for EU students 2020/21
- Do EU students pay tuition fees in Scotland?
- Bursaries and scholarships for EU students
- How to apply for a UK Student Loan
- Repaying your UK Student Loan
- How much does it cost to live in the UK?
Can EU students get Student Loans in the UK?
If you're an EU student who started your degree in the 2020/21 academic year or earlier, you can get a government-funded Student Loan to cover the cost of your tuition fees while studying at a university in the UK.
This loan is paid directly to your university (so you don't see it), and you pay it back in instalments after you graduate.
To be eligible for a Student Loan in the UK as an EU student, you need to meet these criteria:
- You must have started your course in the 2020/21 academic year or earlier
- You must be an EU national or the family member of an EU national
- You must have been living permanently in the EEA or Switzerland for at least three years prior to the start of your course
- You must be studying an eligible course.
Note: If you're not sure whether your country is part of the EU, 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.
Other eligibility criteria for a UK Student Loan
As well as the main eligibility requirements listed above, there are a few other instances in which EU students might be eligible to apply for a Student Loan.
If you think any of the below apply to you, you should contact the relevant Student Finance body for the part of the UK you're studying in (e.g. Student Finance England) to check if you qualify for a loan.
You may be eligible for a Student Loan if:
- You're an EEA or Swiss national who has been living and working in England for at least three years prior to starting your course (or you're the family member of someone who has been)
- You're the child of a Turkish worker who has been living and working in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of your course
- You're a refugee or under humanitarian protection.
Student Finance bodies in the UK
Depending on whereabouts in the UK you're studying, you will need to apply for a loan through a particular organisation. These are the four Student Finance bodies for each part of the UK:
- Student Finance England – England
- Student Finance NI – Northern Ireland
- Student Awards Agency Scotland – Scotland
- Student Finance Wales – Wales.
Can EU students apply for a UK Maintenance Loan?
Unfortunately, even if you're eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan, most EU students won't be eligible for a Maintenance Loan to cover their living costs while studying in the UK.
Only students who have been living permanently in the UK for at least five years prior to the start of their course, and who started their course in 2020/21 or earlier, will be able to apply for a Maintenance Loan.
If you fall into this category, you can apply for Student Finance (Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan) in the exact same way as UK students do.
And again, if you've successfully applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, you'll be able to apply for a Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan just as UK students do.
Which university courses are eligible for Student Finance?
You'll most likely be eligible to apply for Student Finance if you're studying one of the following courses in the UK:
- First degree (like a BA or BSc)
- Foundation degree
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
- Certificate of Higher Education
- Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
- Higher National Diploma (HND)
- Higher National Certificate (HNC)
- Initial Teacher Training (ITT)
- Integrated master's degree
- Pre-registration postgraduate healthcare course.
Please note that, in most instances, you will only be eligible to apply for Student Finance if this is your first degree. If you already have a degree, you may not be able to apply.
If you're unsure whether you already have a qualification that may disqualify you, or if you need to check if the course you're considering is eligible for funding, contact the relevant Student Finance body in the part of the UK your uni is in.
UK university fees for EU students 2020/21
EU students who started their degree in the 2020/21 academic year or earlier qualify for home fee status, meaning they get charged exactly the same as UK students for their degree.
But remember, if you're from the EU and started your course in the 2021/22 academic year or later, you won't be eligible for home fees. Officially, UK universities are able to set their own fees for EU students specifically, and they may do this, but for now it seems the majority are simply charging them the same as other international students (usually much higher than home students).
As ever, check with your university to see what their individual policy is.
Most universities in the UK charge £9,250 a year for home-status students studying full-time for an undergraduate degree, but prices will vary if you choose to study part-time or at a private university or college.
The table below shows the maximum amount of Student Loan you can receive to cover your tuition fees:
UK Tuition Fee Loans for EU students 2020/21
|Your student status||Tuition Fee Loan amount|
|Full-time||Up to £9,250|
|Full-time at private university or college||Up to £6,165|
|Part-time||Up to £6,935|
|Part-time at private university or college||Up to £4,625|
Do EU students pay tuition fees in Scotland?
Although Scotland is part of the UK, its Student Finance system works slightly differently to the rest of the UK.
In Scotland, EU students (from outside the UK) who started their course in 2020/21 or earlier qualify for home fee status.
If this is you, it means you don't pay for your tuition fees at all, not even as a loan that needs to be repaid – the full £1,820 a year is covered by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for first degrees and PGDE courses. And, as long as you started your course before the 2021/22 academic year, this will remain the case for the entirety of your degree.
We know we've said it a few times, but it bears repeating: if you successfully apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you'll be able to apply for Student Finance in Scotland just the same as Scottish students can.
Our full guide to Student Finance in Scotland has more information on how the free tuition works, but remember that you'll likely still have to fund your living costs for the duration of your studies.
Bursaries and scholarships for EU students
If you're worried about how you're going to cover your living costs while studying in the UK, you might want to look into getting a bursary or scholarship.
Bursaries are monetary awards given to a student by an individual or institution to help them with their education. These are usually awarded based on individual circumstances like, for example, a student from a low-income background or someone studying a particular subject.
Scholarships are usually merit-based awards, which means they're awarded to students who have achieved high grades and show the potential to succeed in a certain area.
Bursaries and scholarships can be offered by organisations, individual universities and even companies, so do some thorough research to see if there are any that you're eligible for.
Our guide to bursaries and scholarships for international students is a great starting point, offering some guidance on where to look.
How to apply for a UK Student Loan as an EU student
To apply for a UK Student Loan, EU students have to complete the relevant application form and send it off to the Student Loans Company by post before the deadline.
Not sure when your deadline is, or what forms you need to fill in? Contact the relevant Student Finance organisation for the part of the UK your prospective university is in.
We recommend applying for Student Finance as early as possible to receive the money before the course starts. But, you have up to nine months after the start of the academic year to apply, with starting dates grouped into bands as follows:
|Course start date||Student Finance application deadline|
|1st August – 31st December||31st May after your course started|
|1st January – 31st March||30th September after your course started|
|1st April – 30th June||31st December after your course started|
|1st July – 31st July||31st March after your course started|
Check with your university if you're unsure when your start date is, as it doesn't always align with the start of the academic year.
Remember, though, that this only applies to EU students who started their course in the academic year 2020/21 or earlier.
What you need to apply for a UK Student Loan
Along with your application form, you'll need to send off some evidence to prove your identity and nationality.
All evidence must be photocopies of the original copy, signed, stamped and dated by a person of good standing in the community (such as a doctor, lawyer or teacher, but not a family member).
The exact evidence you need to provide will vary depending on the form you need to complete – pay close attention to the small print to make sure you're sending off the correct evidence, as any mistakes can cause serious delays in your application.
Application forms can take a while to process and there's no set guidance on exactly how long it can take, but if you haven't heard anything in a month, it's worth calling them up to make sure they've received your form.
If your income or family situation changes, or if you change courses or universities, you will need to let Student Finance know this information as soon as possible so they can make any necessary changes to your loan eligibility.
When applying for Student Finance in the UK as an EU national, or a family member or someone from the EU, you will need to provide these documents:
Required evidence to prove your identity as an EU national
You will need to provide a copy of one or both of these forms of ID:
- National identity card.
Required evidence if you're a family member of an EU national
As a family member of an EU national, you'll need to provide copies of their passport and/or national identity card, as well as a birth certificate or marriage certificate to prove their relationship to you.
Repaying your UK Student Loan
EU students repay their loans in the exact same way as UK students do.
Our complete guide to repaying your Student Loan has everything you need to know, but here's a quick summary of the key points for those studying in England and Wales:
- You don't repay anything until the April after your graduation and when you're earning over £26,575 a year
- You pay back 9% of anything you earn over £26,575 a year – so if you earned £31,575 you would pay back 9% of £5,000 (£450 a year)
- If you're living and working outside of the UK, repayments start when you're earning the equivalent of £26,575 in your country – check out our guide to repaying your Student Loan from abroad
- As soon as you're no longer earning over £26,575 (or equivalent), your Student Loan repayments stop
- Your loan starts accumulating interest from the start of your degree
- Your debt will be wiped after 30 years, no matter how much you've paid off.
If you're studying in Scotland or Northern Ireland, your repayments are slightly different, as our guide explains.
The key thing to remember is that student debt isn't the same as other kinds of debt – repayments are manageable and always in line with what you earn. You never have to pay it back if you can't afford to.
How much does it cost to live in the UK?
The cost of living in the UK can vary quite a lot depending on where you're living. As a general rule, London is expensive with high rent costs and the further north you go in the country, the cheaper it gets.
Wherever you are, your biggest expense is always going to be your monthly rent. The average UK student pays £547 a month for accommodation. But prices can vary from around £100 a week in the North East of England to over £200 a week in London, so do your research.
We've ranked the average cost of rent at every university in the UK to give you an idea of what you'll be paying.
And don't forget your other living costs – everyone has to have a social life after all. Most students spend around £100 a month on groceries and £46 a month on socialising.
We've broken down average living costs at each university to help you set up your student budget and work out how much money you'll need to live off for a year.
Worried about feeling homesick while at university? Check out our top tips on how to tackle those homesick blues.