Financing studies in Iceland

Fjármögnun náms á Íslandi
Information on possibilities for student loans and scholarships for persons intending to study in Iceland

Student loan

The Icelandic Student Loan Fund (LÍN) provides loans to students who fulfil the specific conditions set by the Fund.

Applicants must be 18 years of age and financially competent to apply for student loans. In addition, they must meet certain requirements for residence and/or a connection with Iceland as Icelandic or foreign nationals.

Applicants may not be on a bad credit register or in arrears with the Fund on their older loans, their estates may not be subject to bankruptcy proceedings or have previously been declared bankrupt, and the Fund may not have previously had to write off a loan made to them.

 

Right to assistance for study in Iceland

Assistance for study in Iceland is available to a student who meets general creditworthiness criteria and satisfies one of the following conditions:

  1.   is an Icelandic national;
  2.   is a national of Denmark, Finland, Norway or Sweden;
  3.   is a national of an EEA or EFTA state who is an employee or self-employed person in Iceland, or iwho is entitled on the basis of such a position to receive study assistance for study in Iceland. As a general rule, the student is expected to work at least 40 hours per month while studying and must upload a copy of his/her payslip each month to the "My loan" data portal;
  4. is a family member of a national as referred to in point 3;
  5. is a national of an EEA or EFTA state who has been granted the right to indefinite residence in Iceland;
  6. is a family member of a national as referred to in point 5;
  7. is a foreign national who is married to or has been in a registered partnership with an Icelandic citizen for at least two years and has been domiciled in Iceland for a minimum of 2 of the past 5 years prior to commencement of study;
  8. has a residence permit in Iceland as a refugee;
  9. has an indefinite residence permit in Iceland.
Rights of refugees

A foreign national who has been granted a residence permit in Iceland as a refugee on the basis of international protection is entitled to assistance to study in Iceland. 

When applying, the refugee must submit confirmation from the Directorate of Immigration of his/her status.

Nordic nationals

Students from the Nordic countries, who are resident in Iceland and pursuing qualifying studies in Iceland, are entitled to study assistance on an equal basis with Icelandic students, if they do not receive study assistance from their home country, cf. currently applicable agreements between the Nordic countries in this regard.

Citizens of EEA states

Rights of EEA nationals who are employed/self-employed and their family members

Students who are employed/self-employed or hold this status under rules of EEA law and who are EEA nationals and their families and other dependants are entitled to student loans subject to the conditions in Art. 4 of Reg. No. 478/2011.

Students who are nationals of an EEA state other than those specified in Art. 1.1.3 are entitled to student loans subject to the conditions of Art 5 of Reg. No. 478/2011.

Rights of other foreign students

Foreign nationals become entitled to loans just as Icelandic students in the semester in which they are awarded Icelandic citizenship. A foreign national who is not a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) can apply for student loans for studies pursued in Iceland or in the Nordic countries if the person fulfils both the following conditions: 1. is married to an Icelandic national who meets the conditions of Art. 1.1.1 and 2. has been domiciled in Iceland for a minimum of 2 of the past 5 years prior to commencement of study. Persons to whom the authorities have granted international protection or residence permits on the basis of humanitarian considerations shall be entitled to student loans under the Act on the Icelandic Student Loan Fund, provided that they have arrived in the country and the Directorate of Immigration has confirmed that the person in question has been granted the legal status of refugee or a residence permit on the basis of humanitarian considerations in accordance with the Act on Foreign Nationals.

Eligible studies

University study

University study in Iceland is eligible for loans, child support and tuition fees, as long as it is organized as full-time study in the school curriculum. Full-time study is defined as 30 ECTS credits per semester or 60 ECTS credits in each school year or the equivalent.

Loans for tuition fees only may be granted for study that is not organised as full-time study, but does consist of at least 45 ECTS credits or more each school year. In such case, loans are only granted for tuition fees and not for maintenance support, child support or travel costs. This applies, for example, to studies consisting of 90 ECTS credits that are organized over two years.

Special studies

Preparatory study in Iceland

Preparatory study equivalent to 60 standardised secondary school course units is eligible for a loan if the university offering the study is recognised by the educational authorities.

Vocational studies and additional studies at upper secondary schools in Iceland

Vocational studies and additional studies at upper secondary schools in Iceland are eligible for a loan. The study must have been approved by the Minister, as provided for in Act No. 92/2008, and in addition fulfil all of the following conditions:

  • the study programme has been approved by the relevant professional body, if applicable; 

  • upon completion, students have reached at least at the third level of competence;

  • comparable studies are generally not available at university level in Iceland. 

Wages paid to apprentices are treated just as other income under the Fund’s rules and can lead to a reduction in the student loan if the aggregate income exceeds the general income threshold.

General studies in upper secondary school for a university entrance examination or a comparable examination are not eligible for loans. However, upper secondary school students may be entitled to an equal opportunity grant if studying at a location distant from their home.

Language study

Loans can be granted for language study if this is necessary to prepare for study eligible for a loan in a country where a language other than English or a Nordic language (other than Finnish) is spoken.

A loan is only granted once for preparatory language study.  The maximum number of credits for which a loan can be granted under this provision depends on the language in question and ranges from 30 to 90 ECTS credits. See Appendix II of the Fund's Allocation Rules for details. If the borrower changes his/her country of study after completing language study, he/she will be refused assistance (student loans for maintenance/tuition fees/travel and child support) for as long as he/she received assistance in the language study. If the language study is accepted as credit towards the new study programme, this will reduce the period for which the student is not entitled to assistance. To be eligible for a loan, preparatory language study must be an organised programme and substantial enough in its nature and structure, in the assessment of the Fund’s Board (at least 15 hours of instruction per week). A loan is only granted once for preparatory language study. Before a loan for preparatory language study is processed, confirmation must be provided of admission to study eligible for a loan in the same language area.

Scholarships

No general public scholarships are offered for students. However, students from rural areas who need to dwell away from their homes because of their studies may receive a so-called equal opportunity grant.

Students following a course of study in a comprehensive or other upper-secondary school leading to vocational qualifications can receive student loans.

Students who apply for a Nordplus or Erasmus grant to study in Iceland for one or two semesters should contact the International Office of the university where they are studying in their home country. Their studies are then evaluated as part of their study programme in the home country. In addition, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture provides a very limited number of grants to foreign students.

Various scholarship funds are available to students in certain fields, and information about them can be found, for instance, in a grant manual from the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNÍS).

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