Government Student Support

Last modified: 09 March 2022

Student Support is the name given to financial support provided by the Government to eligible students in the UK. Student Support is not considered as one of the 'public funds', as defined in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules. Therefore, a student with UK immigration permission containing a condition stating "No recourse to public funds" would not be in breach of that condition by applying for, and receiving, Student Support.

Basics

Last modified: 17 August 2016

Government Student Support provision exists in each of the four UK countries, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The rules about eligibility for Student Support are broadly similar in each case. However, there are some significant differences between each country, and the type/level of financial support available varies.

You apply for support from the government of the UK country in which you normally reside; this may be different from the country you choose to study in.

After eligibility has been established, the relevant authority will assess your, and/or your family's, income to calculate the level of support to which you are entitled. We cannot describe the calculations used to assess levels of support; information on this is contained in guidance issued by the relevant government department or agency.

Certain courses attract additional help or alternative support. If you are in financial hardship, and you are eligible for Student Support, you might be able to apply for further help through your institution. They can access additional Government support such as Access to Learning Funds (England), Discretionary Funds (Scotland), Financial Contingency Funds (Wales), and Support Funds (Northern Ireland).

The Student Support package also includes extra grants for students with particular needs, for example disabled students and those with dependants.

Eligible courses

Last modified: 13 September 2018

Undergraduate Student Support is only available if you are studying on a designated course, namely:

  • an undergraduate degree
  • a Higher National Diploma (HND) / Certificate (HNC)
  • a Diploma of Higher Education
  • a teacher training course

In Scotland, undergraduate Student Support is also available for a Certificate in Higher Education or a Diploma / Advanced Diploma.

All of the above are higher education (HE) undergraduate courses. If you are studying on a HE postgraduate course, see our info on Funding postgraduate study.

If you are studying on a further education (FE) course, check with your institution whether any funding is available.

You may not be eligible if you have previously received Student Support (or a mandatory award) to study a HE course. The same applies if you have already studied a course at the same or lower level, including qualifications you have obtained in other countries.

Funding for healthcare courses

Last modified: 18 August 2017

Admission on healthcare courses, such as Nursing or Midwifery, can depend very much on whether you will be granted funding. In England, the former NHS Bursary scheme has now closed to new applicants (ie those starting in August 2017 onwards). However, students on eligible healthcare courses can apply for the general Student Support available to other students.

If you wish to follow a healthcare course as a full fee-paying student, check with the institution in advance if they accept fee-paying students onto the course.

NHS bursary reform

Applying for NHS bursaries, or new 2017-onwards funding

Incorrectly refused, and those not eligible

Last modified: 28 March 2018

If your application for Student Support is refused, you should ask for the reasons for the refusal in writing. If you feel you have been refused incorrectly, you can normally challenge the decision. This will usually involve telephoning, or writing to, the official who informed you of the refusal. You should explain why you think the decision is wrong.

If you are still not satisfied, you can formally appeal against the decision but first you should speak to an adviser at your institution, your Students' Union, or on our Student Advice Line.

Read our information on EEA/Swiss migrant workers if you have been refused following an application to be considered as an EEA/Swiss worker, or as the family member of such a worker.

If you are not eligible for Government Student Support, you may wish to read our information about scholarships and funding your studies, as well as how to manage the cost of living in the UK. 

If you did not originally think you would need financial support, but you have now experienced a change in your financial circumstances, you should read our information about unexpected financial hardship.

Applying in England

Last modified: 09 March 2022

Student Support is, broadly speaking, composed of: a loan for tuition fees; a loan for living costs; and certain supplementary grants for specific categories, for example disabled students.

The regulations describing the categories of student who are entitled to Student Support changed significantly in 2021. Those regulations are made by England’s Department for Education (not UKCISA).

If you fall into one of the categories of student who are entitled to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate, then you will almost certainly be entitled to some level of Student Support. See England: fee status for information about the categories of student who are entitled to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate.

You should apply to Student Finance England. You will find guidance documents, and details of how to apply, on its website. The deadline for your application depends on when your course starts but you must apply within nine months (six months for part-time courses) of the start of the academic year.

England’s Department for Education produces the England Student Support regulations, and accompanying guidance, for students and assessors. You can read its policy guidance for practitioners, which can be useful if you are refused Student Support and you do not agree with that decision.

If you do not meet all of the requirements of a category at the start of your course, you may still become entitled to support later on if you experience a relevant change of circumstances. If you are unsure about whether you are entitled to Student Support or if you need further information speak to an adviser at your institution or Students' Union or on our students' advice line.

UKCISA aims to expand this information about Student Support entitlement in England this year, to explain how a few categories of student are entitled only to a tuition fee loan, rather than full Student Support. We will also explain the small differences that could mean you are entitled to ‘home’ fees but not to any Student Support (these affect very few people).

Applying in Scotland

Last modified: 12 January 2021

This information only applies to Student Support for the 2020/21 academic year. It does not reflect the Student Support provisions for students commencing study in autumn 2021 or later. For what is known for students commencing study in autumn 2021, see Brexit - fees and Student Support.

 

Student Support is composed of: the payment of your tuition fees, if you study in Scotland; a loan for tuition fees if you study outside Scotland; a loan for living costs; certain supplementary grants for specific categories, for example disabled students; and a non-repayable Young Students' Bursary (if you study in Scotland and start the course before you turn 25), a non-repayable Students' Outside Scotland Bursary, or the Additional Loan for students from households with a low income.

If you meet all the requirements of one or more of the following categories, you will be entitled to some level, and amount, of Student Support. This is only a brief summary of persons who are entitled.

You should apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). You will find guidance documents, and details of how to apply, on its website. The deadline for your application depends on when your course starts.

The Scottish Government produces the Student Support regulations for Scotland. You can read further information in the funding section of the Scottish Government website.

If you do not meet all of the requirements of a category at the start of your course, you may still become entitled to support later on if you experience a relevant change of circumstances. If you are unsure about whether you have become entitled to Student Support or if you need further information speak to an adviser at your institution or Students' Union or on our students' advice line.

1. Scotland: Settled status and living in the UK and Islands

2. Scotland: EU nationals and family

3. Scotland: Non-UK EU nationals living in the UK and Islands and family

4. Scotland: Those with the right of permanent residence in the UK

5. Scotland: Non-UK EEA/Swiss workers and family

6. Scotland: Settled status and exercised a right of residence in the EEA/Switzerland

7. Scotland: Children of Swiss nationals

8. Scotland: Children of Turkish workers

9. Scotland: People with refugee status and family

10. Scotland: People who are refused refugee status but allowed to remain in the UK and family

11. Scotland: Temporary protection

12. Scotland: Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, and children of asylum seekers

13. Scotland: Iraqi nationals granted indefinite leave to enter the UK under the Locally Engaged Staff Assistance Scheme (Direct Entry), and family

14. Scotland: Syrian (Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme) nationals, and family

15. Scotland: Long residence

16. Scotland: Afghan (Locally Employed Staff Ex-Gratia Scheme) nationals, and family

17. Scotland: Those granted stateless leave, and family

18. Scotland: Those granted discretionary leave as a ‘victim of modern slavery’

19. Scotland: Victims of domestic abuse/violence

20. Scotland: Persons granted Calais Leave

Applying in Wales

Last modified: 09 March 2022

Student Support is, broadly speaking, composed of: a loan for tuition fees; a mixture of a loan and a grant for living costs; and certain supplementary grants or allowances for specific categories, for example disabled students.

The regulations describing the categories of student who are entitled to Student Support changed significantly in 2021. Those regulations are made by the Welsh Government (not UKCISA).

If you fall into one of the categories of student who are entitled to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate, then you will almost certainly be entitled to some level of Student Support. See Wales: fee status for information about the categories of student who are entitled to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate.

You should apply to Student Finance Wales. You will find guidance documents, and details of how to apply, on its website. The deadline for your application depends on when your course starts but you must apply within nine months (six months for part-time courses) of the start of the academic year

The Welsh Government produces the Student Support regulations for Wales, and accompanying guidance for students and assessors. You can read its policy guidance for practitioners (choose ‘Assessing Eligibility Guidance’) which can be useful if you are refused Student Support and you do not agree with that decision.

If you do not meet all of the requirements of a category at the start of your course, you may still become entitled to support later on if you experience a relevant change of circumstances. If you are unsure about whether you are entitled to Student Support or if you need further information speak to an adviser at your institution or Students' Union or on our students' advice line.

UKCISA aims to expand this information about Student Support entitlement in Wales this year, to explain how a few categories of student are entitled only to a tuition fee loan, rather than full Student Support. We will also explain the small differences that could mean you are entitled to ‘home’ fees but not to any Student Support (these affect very few people). 

Applying in Northern Ireland

Last modified: 09 March 2022

Student Support is, broadly speaking, composed of: a loan for tuition fees; a mixture of a loan and/or grant for living costs; and certain supplementary grants or allowances for specific categories, for example disabled students.

The regulations describing the categories of student who are entitled to Student Support changed significantly in 2021. Those regulations are made by the Northern Ireland Assembly (not UKCISA).

If you fall into one of the categories of student who are entitled to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate, then you will almost certainly be entitled to some level of Student Support. See Northern Ireland: fee status for information about the categories of student who are entitled to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate.

You should apply to Student Finance NI. You will find guidance documents, and details of how to apply, on its website. The deadline for your application depends on when your course starts but you must apply within nine months (six months for part-time courses) of the start of the academic year.

If you do not meet all of the requirements of a category at the start of your course, you may still become entitled to support later on if you experience a relevant change of circumstances. If you are unsure about whether you are entitled to Student Support or if you need further information speak to an adviser at your institution or Students' Union or on our students' advice line.

UKCISA aims to expand this information about Student Support entitlement in Northern Ireland this year, to explain how a few categories of student are entitled only to a tuition fee loan, rather than full Student Support. We will also explain the small differences that could mean you are entitled to ‘home’ fees but not to any Student Support (these affect very few people). 

Funding postgraduate study

Last modified: 05 November 2018

This section gives you information about the funding available if you are studying in the UK as a postgraduate student.

Government Student Support for postgraduate study

Other funding for postgraduate study

Definitions: for Student Support assessment

Last modified: 09 March 2022

This section has explanations about words and terms which occur in our information on Government Student Support. These explanations should not be read in isolation but, instead, combined with the appropriate Student Support category.

Dependency

European Economic Area (EEA)

European Union (EU)

First day of the academic year

Ordinary residence

Overseas Territories

Relevant date

Settled

UK and Islands

Worker

Relevant family members - applying in Scotland