If you are not a UK national, but have lived in the UK for a substantial period of your life you may be eligible for student finance following the Tigere legal challenge and subsequent interim policy. This blog contains a description of how to apply for student finance for courses starting before academic year 2016-17 if do you meet the criteria in this interim policy. To check if you meet these criteria, see this blog.
The information in this blog is based primarily on the experiences of students who have contacted Let Us Learn and who have made applications for student finance. We update the blog as soon as we receive new information from the young people we are working with.
I meet the eligibility criteria, what do I do next?
If you have looked at the eligibility criteria and believe that you are eligible for student finance, you can follow the steps below to apply for student finance. Each of the steps are explained in more detail later in this blog:
- Make your initial application to Student Finance England (SFE) as soon as possible;
- Wait for your initial application to be refused by SFE;
- Appeal this refusal, stating that you meet the criteria in the interim policy;
- Wait for your case to be passed to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) for a proper assessment under the interim policy;
If you meet the criteria, BIS will tell SFE to grant you student finance. They will also instruct your university to charge you as a home student.
1. Making your initial application
- You will need to print off and apply with a paper copy of the SFE application form. This is because the SFE online application system does not allow you to progress with your application if you have discretionary or limited leave to remain;
- This does not mean that you are ineligible for student finance, just that SFE have not updated their systems (we have complained to SFE about this);
- We do not recommend that you provide additional information, documentation or arguments at this stage. The quickest way to get your case assessed under the interim policy is to get the refusal from SFE as soon as possible and then to appeal this refusal. If you engage in a lengthy, back-and-forth discussion at this stage, it will likely only mean that you will have to wait longer for your application to be eventually refused;
- (22/4/16) Several students have asked if it is worth highlighting at the first application stage that they are applying under the interim policy, as well as attaching additional supporting documents. Based on the experiences of other students we do not recommend you do this and do not think it will result in your case being assessed under the interim policy;
- Some young people have been asked at this stage to provide letters from the Home Office clarifying the reason they were granted their limited or discretionary leave to remain (the grounds for the decision). This is not relevant information and this could delay your application. Please do get in touch if this is happening with your application;
2. Refusal of your initial application
- Even if you believe you do meet the criteria in the interim policy, your case will be initially refused. You will receive a refusal letter stating the reasons that your application has been refused;
- The reasons will likely be that you do not have settled status, refugee status or Humantarian Protection in the UK;
- This does not mean that you are ineligible for student finance, just that SFE are not applying the interim policy and that your case has not yet been assessed under the interim policy (we have complained about this).
3. Appealing the initial refusal
- You need to appeal the decision from SFE to refuse your application. There is general ‘How to Appeal’ guidance in this Student Loans Company document. The easiest way to appeal is probably to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org;
- State that the reason you are appealing is because you meet the criteria in the interim policy. Below is an anonymised version of an appeal that was made by one young woman. This appeal led to the young woman’s application being assessed under the interim policy;
- We do not recommend you provide any additional information, documents or arguments at this stage.
“I would like to appeal the decision made concerning my student loan application on the basis that I meet the criteria as outlined in the interim policy on your website (http://www.slc.co.uk/media/latest-news/policy-statement-interim-policy-for-handling-cases-following-the-supreme-court-ruling-in-the-case-of-tigere.aspx).
This policy was released after the Supreme Court’s ruling of 29 July 2015 (on the application of Tigere) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (respondent) 2015 UKSC57
I am therefore contesting the decision on the basis that I meet the outlined requirements:
those aged 18-25 years who have spent at least half their life in the UK;
is ordinarily resident in England; and
has been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom and Islands throughout the three year period preceding the first day of the first academic year of the course.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter, I await your decision.”
4. Case passed to BIS for assessment
- Once you have made your appeal, SFE should pass your application to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to assess properly under the interim policy;
- You will receive the following email or letter:
- Most people have not been required to send additional documents and information in support of their application as BIS have contacted the Home Office directly for the relevant information.
I meet the criteria, but am being told that I am still ineligible
- Although the interim policy is in place and is hosted on the Student Finance England website, Student Finance England have not yet updated their systems to reflect this;
- If you call the SFE helplines, they will tell you that you are not eligible for funding and that nothing has changed. This is not correct and we have complained about this;
- If you tweet the @SF_England Twitter account, they may tell you that you are not eligible for funding. This is not correct and we have complained about this;
- If you try to use the SFE online application system, you will find that there is not an option for limited or discretionary leave to remain and you will not be able to progress with the case. We have complained about this;
- If you have gone through the appeal process, your case has been assessed by BIS under the interim policy and you have been told that you are ineligible for student finance see our Am I Eligible? blog. If you feel there has been a mistake, please get in touch asap.
If you have any updates, news or contradictory information from your own experience of applying for student finance please get in touch so we can share with other young people who may benefit.