If you are not a UK national, but have lived in England for a substantial period of your life you may be eligible for student finance and home fees in England under the ‘long residence’ category. This blog explains how to apply for a course if you believe you are eligible under this category.

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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.

 

What We Know

  • The interim policy that was in place for academic year 2015-16 does not apply for courses starting after academic year 2015-16.

 

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:

 

  • Get in touch. We are always happy to speak with you, whether we have done so before or not. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss your case at any time. At particularly busy times, we may have to get back to you but will do so as quickly as possible;

 

Let Us Learn new inquiry team taking calls from young people unable to access university due to their immigration status
Members of the Let Us Learn new inquiry team

 

  • Previously, you had to apply with a paper copy of the application form, as there was no option for ‘limited leave to remain’;

 

Screen shot of SFE online application system options sent by student attempting to apply for finance for academic year 2016-17, prior to updates.
  • The online application system has now been updated so you can now apply for the long residence eligibility route via the online system. You will first be asked a series of questions relating to your nationality and immigration status;

 

Student Finance England online application for people with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK
SFE online application question 1

 

Student Finance England online application for people with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK
SFE online application question 2

 

Student Finance England online application for people with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK
SFE online application question 3 – limited leave to remain

 

Student Finance England online application for people with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK
SFE online application question 4

 

Student Finance England online application for people with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK
SFE online application question 5 – this is to check for the three year ordinary residence criteria

 

 

  • You will then be asked a series of other questions about your personal circumstances not related to your nationality or immigration status. When you have answered these you will see the following:

 

Student Finance England online application for people with limited or discretionary leave to remain in the UK
You will eventually see this. You will still have to complete the rest of the application

 

  • You will then have to complete the rest of the application as normal

 

Request for evidence

 

Celene letter 1

Celene letter 2
Two page letter received by student in July 2016 requesting supporting evidence for eligibility under long residence category

 

Problems

 

– Grounds for grant of leave to remain

  • Several young people have been asked 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). They have been told that their application cannot proceed if they do not provide this information;
  • This is not relevant information and this could delay your application;
Screenshot of letter received by student finance applicant asking for reason for grant of leave to remain
  • We have been in contact with the Student Loans Company (SLC) about this issue. SFE assessors were told to request this information to make sure that nobody who was trying to apply under the long residence category was eligible under another route eg. as someone with refugee status. We have explained that people applying under the long residence category know they are not eligible via any other route and in many cases have had years out of education until this eligibility category was created;
  • SLC have stated that they will address this issue and have also been able to assist on a case by case basis. If you have been asked to provide this information and you do not have access to the relevant documentation, you can inform SFE that you give your permission for contact the Home Office to access this information. SFE will do this anyway, even if you can provide the evidence, so they may as well do it now.

 

– No reference to long residence category

  • If you contacted Student Finance England (SFE) before 6th June 2016 and possibly for a while after 6th June 2016, they are unlikely to have been able to tell you about this new policy and may still tell you that you are ineligible, even if you do meet the new criteria;

(17/6/16 – We have been informed by two separate young people who contacted the SFE telephone advice line this week that they were told they would be ineligible for student finance as they did not have settled status in the UK. This is not correct and does not take into account the new ‘long residence’ category. We will be passing this information to the Student Loans Company. If this happens to you please contact us)

  • If you applied for student finance before 6th June 2016 and possibly for a while after 6th June 2016, your application will have been refused, even if you do meet the new criteria;
  • If your application has been refused without reference to the long residence category you can appeal this decision;
How to appeal
Guidance on how to appeal to Student Finance England

 

  • State that the reason you are appealing is because you meet the criteria in the long residence category. Below is an anonymised version of an appeal that was made by one young woman;
  • 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 ‘Long Residence criteria’ in The Education (Student Fees, Awards and Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2016,
Thank you for your consideration in this matter, I await your decision.”

 

  • If your application was refused and you appealed this refusal before 6th June 2016, you will likely have received the following email:

 

SLC email
Email received by a number of students since late April 2016

 

  • If you responded to this email prior to 6th June 2016 and asked for further information/clarification, you will likely have received the following response or similar:

 

"Thank you for your email. The new legislation comes into force on the 6th June and from this date we can assess against it. I can not confirm your eligibility by this date as the Processing Unit will need to assess your eligibility and check all supporting documentation before issuing a response. You will hear from them directly regarding your assessment."
Email response received by young man end of May 2016

 

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. I you feel you are not eligible for student finance, have a look at our scholarships blog.