Special Support Grant Full-time undergraduate, Northern Ireland students

2. Who can get this grant?

You don't need to work out if you're eligible - we'll do it for you

This page is intended for your information only. Make your application for student finance, we'll determine your eligibility and let you know.

The following can contribute to your eligibility for a Special Support Grant for full-time undergraduate Northern Ireland students.

Student circumstances

You may get a Special Support Grant if you:

  • are a lone parent (or a lone foster parent) of a child, or young person aged under 20 who is in full-time education below higher education level
  • have a partner who is also a student, and one or both of you is responsible for a child or young person under 20 who is in full-time education below higher education level
  • have a disability and qualify for the Disability Premium or Severe Disability Premium
  • are deaf and qualify for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)
  • have a disability and qualify for income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • have been treated as incapable of work for a continuous period of at least 28 weeks
  • are from abroad and are entitled to an Income Support Urgent Cases Payment because you are temporarily without funds for a period of up to 6 weeks
  • are waiting to go back to a course having taken agreed time out from that course due to an illness or caring responsibility that has now ended (this does not mean that you will be paid for time you were not on your course)
  • are aged 60 or older
  • are eligible for Housing Benefit
  • are entitled to Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
  • are entitled to Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment

You would also need to be able to meet the following requirements for full-time undergraduate finance

Nationality and residency

You could get this funding if you’re able to identify as one of the following:

A UK or ROI National or someone with settled status in the UK

You must:

  • normally live in Northern Ireland
  • have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years before the first day of your first academic year

An EU National

You must:

  • normally live in Northern Ireland
  • have been living in Northern Ireland for the three years before the first day of your first academic year

EU Nationals (including ROI nationals) with less than 3 years residency in Northern Ireland may be eligible for EU student funding.

A UK National who has been living in the EU

You must:

  • have normally lived in Northern Ireland before you moved to the EU
  • have normally lived in the EU for the past three years
  • be living in Northern Ireland on the first day of the first year of your course, unless COVID-19 travel restrictions prevent you from doing so

An eligible exception residency type

Our eligible exception residency types can include refugees, those under humanitarian protection or their immediate family members.

Resident in another area of the UK but living in Northern Ireland while you study

You will not be classed as ‘ordinarily resident’ in Northern Ireland and will not be eligible for support from Student Finance NI. You should contact your home funding provider for further information on what support is available.


There is no upper or lower age limit for a Special Support Grant.


To qualify for this loan your course must result in one of the following qualifications:

  • a first degree, for example, a BA, BSc or BEd
  • a Foundation Degree
  • a Certificate of Higher Education
  • a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • a Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

Your university or college will be able to confirm the course's qualification.

Place of study

Both your course and place of study must be eligible for funding from us. Your university or college can be:

  • a publicly funded institution based in the UK or Republic of Ireland
  • a privately funded institution based in the UK that runs individual courses which attract public (Student Finance NI) funding. These courses must have received ‘specific designation’ from the Department for the Economy

You need to study at least 50% of your course in the UK or Republic of Ireland. Your university or college will be able to confirm their eligibility for funding from us.

Previous study

You’ll usually get student finance for your first higher education degree but exceptions can apply.

You could get limited funding if, for example:

  • you change course
  • you leave your course but decide to start again
  • you’re ‘topping up’ a higher education qualification, for example you've finished an HNC, HND or Foundation Degree and now want to do an Honours degree
  • You already have a degree and you're starting a specified second degree, you can contact us for details of eligible courses

If you've previously studied a course at this qualification level you may not get funding, even if your previous course was self-funded.

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