Applying for student support
To check if you are eligible for a tuition fee loan and for maintenance loan and grant support, you should contact Student Finance NI in your regional Education Authority office. They can advise about making an application or checking the status of an application.
Student tuition fees
A key commitment in the Northern Ireland Executive's Programme for Government 2011-15 is to “ensure there are no increases in student fees beyond the rate of inflation for Northern Ireland students studying here”.
New full-time students studying in Northern Ireland will be charged up to £4,395 in tuition fees in academic year 2020/21.
Universities and colleges of higher education in England, Scotland or Wales are able to charge full-time undergraduates fees of up to £9,250 a year. The actual amount charged will vary between courses as well as between universities.
Available student finance
For advice and guidance on types of student finance available to cover tuition fees and maintenance costs, use the nidirect website links below:
- Non-repayable maintenance grant and special support grant
- Student loans
- Repaying student loans
- Funding for students studying in Republic of Ireland
- Types of student finance available
- Financing your post-graduate course
Higher education support funds
The department provides support funds to eligible students through the higer education Institutions in Northern Ireland. These funds are to be used to provide financial help to students whose access to higher education might be inhibited by financial considerations, or who, for whatever reason, including physical or other disabilities, face financial difficulties in meeting their living costs.
Postgraduate Studentship Awards
The department sponsors postgraduate studentships at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) for research and certain approved full-time postgraduate courses leading to higher degrees (Masters and PhDs).
There are three types of studentships available:
- Research studentship for PhD study
- Co-operative Awards is Science and Technology (CAST) for PhD study
- Taught studentships for MRes study
For further information on the department`s studentships please visit the nidirect website
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
The EMA scheme was introduced jointly by the Department for the Economy and the Department of Education (DE) in September 2004. The main purpose of the scheme is to enable young people from less well-off families to remain in post-compulsory education at school or college with the key objectives of raising participation, retention and achievement rates in the eligible group.
The department’s Student Support branch is responsible for EMA policy and advice. The EMA is administered by the Student Loans Company (SLC) on behalf of the department and DE.
An Information Notice on the EMA scheme for academic year 2020 to 2021 has been issued by the Department for the Economy and Department of Education: Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) scheme for the Academic Year 2020/21
Guides have been published by Student Finance NI which cover most aspects of student finance, these can be accessed through the following links below:
Student support and payment
- Financial support for full-time students in HE
- Financial support for part-time students in HE
- Student finance explained
- Student loans
- Childcare grant
- Adult dependants' grant
- Parents' learning allowance
- Disabled students' allowances
- Stand Alone- student support portal (for students estranged from family)
The department has published guidance in relation to postgraduate study:
The eligibility of higher education students for financial support in terms of tuition fees, maintenance grants and loans is determined under the Education (Student Support) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 (as amended).
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