Studying Abroad: What Financial Help are you entitled to?
Despite what people may have told you, studying abroad does not mean you’re entitled to loans and grants from the Student Loans Company here in the UK. If you’re planning on studying abroad you will need to do some research into the financial assistance that’s available to you, because it varies on a case to case basis.
Find out what you’re entitled to before you make a decision
It’s always a good idea to find out exactly what finance you’re entitled to before you go ahead and make a decision as to what university you’ll be attending. If you decide to attend a university in Poland for example but can’t drum up the finance needed, you’ll have to change your plans to study elsewhere, or give up on your dream of university altogether. It’s a good idea to have multiple applications for university running – and as an insurance policy you should have at least one university here in the UK, which you know 100% you’ll be able to get the funding for.
Contact the local education agency where you’ll be studying
If you’re studying outside of the UK you will not be eligible for any of the finance given to students studying the UK. Therefore it’s important that you contact the education authority or agency in the country you hope to study in, to see what they have on offer. The agencies will different from country to country, so it’s up to you to do some research and find the appropriate body to contact.
Some countries offer generous student finance – whilst others offer no assistance at all. If obtaining student finance is going to be central to you attending university it’s a good idea to do some research before applying to the university.
Find out whether you need a permit to work
A lot of students around the world take on a job during their studies. Having a job allows you to borrow less because you can pay for food, clothes and bills out of your wages. Just remember that students who travel abroad to study are not automatically granted the right to work – even if you do have the appropriate student visa.
Some countries may impose strict rules on when you can and can’t work – and they may say you’re not allowed to work over X number of hours per week. Other countries actively try to stop students from working altogether – so make sure you check out employment laws prior to applying for a university, if you plan to work during your time studying.
Attending universities in other EU countries
You’ll be at a slight advantage if you attend a university within the EU, as opposed to anywhere else in the world. If you’re a UK resident you’re permitted to travel freely within the EU, and you’re also allowed to work anywhere you like within the EU. This means you won’t have to spend weeks on end applying for visas, and you won’t have to get special permission to work once you do get a place at university.
Another thing to bear in mind is that as an EU citizen you’re afforded the same right with regards to student finance as residents of that country are. So if you go to study at university in Poland for example, you’ll automatically be entitled to the same finance options that a Polish citizen is entitled to, even if you’re from the UK.
Scholarships and grants
If you’ve got your heart set on attending university overseas but financing your dream is proving to be difficult, it’s well worth checking out the different scholarships that universities offer. The majority of universities do offer some form of scholarship – this is often where all of the course fees are paid for you. Some universities do offer grants as financial aid to students, but it varies on a case to case basis. The thing to remember about scholarships is that the application process tends to be very competitive – so don’t be too upset if you’re not chosen.
You should also check to see if there are any charities out there who can help you – believe it or not there are charities in existence that will offer you a grant to help with the cost of studying overseas.
Financing your overseas studies
We realize that this page won’t be what a lot of you want to read. A lot of students are under the impression they’re entitled to the same finance options as students who study in the UK – and obviously they’re not. Here are some ideas that you might want to bear in mind if finance is not available in the country that you wish to study.
- Ask a relative or friend for help: Borrowing from friends or family is one way in which a lot of people finance their overseas studies. It’s not ideal, but it’s a popular form of borrowing – you’ll find a lot of parents out there would finance your studies at university anyway whether you study in the UK or abroad.
- Work and save: It’s not too common but it’s not unheard of. If you’re serious about studying overseas and you’ve exhausted all other avenues of finance, you can always work for a couple of years after leaving college or sixth form, in order to get enough money together to finance your university life. Again, it’s not ideal but it’s a possibility.
- Working during your studies: If you study within the EU or in a country where work permits are easy to obtain, you can always self-fund your studies by working during your time at university.
The financial assistance you are entitled to will depend greatly on the country and university that you wish to study in. Just remember that a lot of financial assistance will come in the form of a student loan, and at some point it will need to be paid back!