The Student Finance Guide for EU Students

If you’re not from the UK there’s still a chance that you could be entitled to some student finance if you plan to study here.

There are two types of student loan: maintenance loans, and tuition fee loans. Maintenance loans are what you get paid into your bank account in order to be able to afford to eat and pay day to day bills. Tuition fee loans are what get paid to universities in order to settle up the course fees for you. Both loans are a form of borrowing and you will have to pay them back, but the beauty of them is that you don’t need thousands of pounds up front in order to attend university.

Remember people from within the EU may be entitled to some student finance, but not all student finance.

Tuition fee loans

In order to be eligible for a tuition fee loan as an EU student you must be an EU national, or the family member of an EU national. The course that you’re attending must also qualify (for clarification see the direct.gov.uk website, or contact your university).

As the cost of tuition fees has risen significantly for the intake of students in September 2012, it’s now more important than ever that students look into the loans that are on offer. Previously tuition fees were capped at around £3,000, but they have in some cases tripled to around £9,000 at certain universities, mainly due to government funding cuts.

Another thing to bear in mind is that for the first time ever part time students are now also eligible for tuition fee loans. Previously they were left to fund their studies themselves, but under the new scheme universities can charge up to £6,750 per year to students – so loans have now been made available.

Maintenance loans

If you’re an EU national you may well qualify for a maintenance loan on top of any tuition fee loan that you’re entitled to. Again you must be an EU national or the family member of an EU national, and you must have live in the UK for 3 or more years prior to your course commencing. You must be residing in the UK when your university course starts, and you mustn’t be an education tourist (ie, your primary reason for moving to the UK wasn’t to study).

Loan repayment

The repayment terms of these loans have changed due to the new systems that have come into place. Whereas you’d have to earn £15,000 to start making repayments in the past, the figure has now been set at £21,000. This means that if you graduate from university and earn less than £21,000, you won’t repay any of your loan. Although you won’t be repaying any of your loan, the sum outstanding may gradually increase due to the application of above-inflation interest.

If you fail to earn more than £21,000 in the thirty years after you graduate, the remaining debt will be wiped – leaving you with nothing to repay. The new system will benefit some students who will never need to make repayments, but it will also leave others at a disadvantage, especially those who earn slightly over the £21,000 threshold. All in all though the changes mean that graduates will be around £540 per year better off if they’re earning over £21,000.

Student finance is there if you need it – both for UK residents and EU residents. Student finance is a way to invest in your future in order to help you attend university and get a good education so you can go on to hold down a well paid, respected job.