AFF’s F&C team often gets enquiries from those of you who are non-UK nationals and wish to study in the UK. Some of you, and your children, have had to overcome unnecessary hurdles. We’re here to help…

What is student support?

Student support is the name given to financial assistance provided by the government to eligible students in the UK. It’s composed of a loan for tuition fees, a loan for living costs and a non-repayable maintenance grant.

What are the eligibility requirements?

For an undergraduate degree:

  • you must be settled in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course; and
  • on the first day of the first academic year of the course you must be ordinarily resident in England; and
  • you must also have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for the full three-year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course.

There are different requirements for EU nationals and family members of UK nationals, and for those of you undertaking further education courses.

Settled status

If you have Indefinite Leave to Enter or Indefinite Leave to Remain, you are considered settled. It’s very important that you have your ILE/ILR on the first day of the first academic year of the course. If it’s issued after this date, you’ll most likely be refused, so apply in plenty of time.

Does my time spent in the UK without a valid visa count?

No. The regulations state that a person is not to be treated as ordinarily resident in a place unless that person lawfully resides in that place.

Does my time spent on an overseas assignment count?

Yes. All time on an overseas assignment should be counted as residence in the UK.

Can my child access funding if they have lived overseas?

AFF is aware of some forces children experiencing difficulties when applying for student finance.

Cases may be referred to the Home Office, which can lead to a delay as they await their response.

AFF is concerned that the discretion given to service families is not fully understood. For some, this has required you to provide detailed and unnecessary evidence. which shouldn’t be needed.

AFF is aware that some cases can take up to a year to resolve, leading to students having to leave their course because they can’t afford the costs and we will continue to raise this issue.

If you have any difficulties, do contact our team via

Case studies

Our F&C specialist, Katherine Houlston, has worked on many cases including one service child who was refused because she had been adopted from Ghana at the age of eight. Despite having lived with her adopted parents in Cyprus and then Germany for ten years, Student Finance England (SFE) decided that she couldn’t count this time as UK residence as she hadn’t originally been resident in the UK.

Another child was refused because she couldn’t provide Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) stamps to cover her whole time in Germany.

The appeal took over a year, after which SFE claimed that she hadn’t been lawfully resident in Germany, closed the case and also suggested that they may need to reconsider the previous funding she had received for earlier courses. Unfortunately, AFF’s attempts to resolve the issue were unsuccessful.

Katherine says:

“Over the past ten years in this job, I have supported many families with a number of issues, but what affected me most was my inability to help these children who just want to get a degree like many others their age, and yet were prevented from doing so purely because of their parent’s service.”


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