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Can I get further education funding in the UK?

By David Malcolm

Friday 12 April 2013 Further education

In order to get government funding to study for a course of further education in the UK, you and the course you’re taking must be eligible. Here are some details about eligibility for funding, with links to more information.

How does where I live affect what funding I can get?

Student funding from the government in the UK is all about which country is your ordinary place of residence before you start your course. As a general rule, to get funding you must be one of the following:

  • a UK citizen or have ‘settled status’ (no restrictions on how long you can stay), and have been living in the UK for three years before starting your course
  • a European Union (EU) citizen, or the spouse, civil partner or child of one, and have been living in the European Economic Area (EEA) for three years before starting your course
  • an EEA or Turkish migrant worker, or the spouse, civil partner or child of one, living as an ordinary resident in the UK at the start of your course, and have been living in the EEA for three years before starting your course
  • an officially recognised refugee, or the spouse, civil partner or child of one, and have humanitarian protection or EU temporary protection.

Trips abroad for holidays and temporary jobs don’t usually detract from the three years you need to have been living somewhere.

In some cases you may be able to get funding for either fees, maintenance or both if you’re an asylum seeker or a British citizen, even if you don’t meet the other conditions above.

The further education funding you can get depends on the UK country that’s your ordinary place of residence. For example, if you’re a resident in England, you get the funding that’s available for students in England, and if you’re a resident in Wales, you get the funding that’s available for students in Wales. If you’re a student from the Channel Islands or Isle of Man you apply directly to your island’s education department. If you’re an EU or refugee student, you apply where the college or learning provider is situated.

If the residency criteria for one UK country apply to you, you can’t get the funding that’s available to students resident in the other countries. Even if you move to another UK country in order to take your course, you retain your original residency status. For example, if the residency criteria for England apply to you, you can’t get the funding that’s available to students resident in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland – and if you move to one of those countries in order to take your course, you retain your status as an English resident. However, in some circumstances your residency status might change (eg if you move from England to Scotland for reasons other than education).

In short, the rules on residency are very complicated – and this is only a summary. If you’re unsure about your status you should contact an adviser at your college for further guidance. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) also has a lot of information for students from outside the UK.

If you’re an asylum seeker, contact the Education Grants Advisory Service or the Ruth Hayman Trust for other sources of funding.

Does my age entitle me to funding?

There are no general age restrictions governing who can get funding for further education, but your age does determine the sort of funding you can get. Most further education funding is available for students aged between 16 and 19 years old, but if you’re older than that you can still get some support.

Is my course eligible for funding?

In order to receive government support, the course you take and the school, college, sixth form college, further education college or organisation that provides it must be in the UK and designated as eligible for funding. You can find an eligible course using one of these websites:

You may also be able to get funding to take a distance learning course (online and by email). Distance learning is available through many further education colleges as well as dedicated distance learning providers like the Open University.

What government funding can I get?

If you’re eligible for further education funding from the government, find out what funding is available to you:

This information was updated in March 2013. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.