How to finance your studies in Norway

Previously, I wrote about how to apply for a bachelor’s degree with Norwegian as medium of instruction. After getting admission, the next thing to wonder about is — do I have enough money to finance my education?

On this entry, I’ll write about attaining a student visa, applying for loan and stipend from Lånekassen, and paying the semestral fee.

Well, the good news is studying in a public school or university in Norway is F-R-E-E! Yes, gratis! Before applying, I had been saving up money because I thought I’d have to apply for a student visa. Then, I’d have to have “show money”, or a certain amount of money in my bank account that the authorities deemed enough for me to survive.

As of today (2020), the required show money is 123 519 kroner. It can be in form of student loan, stipend, own money deposited in your bank account or your school’s bank account or a combination of these. You can also satisfy this requirement by showing part-time job contract/s, and they’ll compute your future earnings, if you can earn enough money throughout the school year.

In addition to the show money, you must also:

  • pay the application fee for the student visa
  • have received an acceptance letter/admission to a college or university
  • study full time
  • have extra money if you have to pay for tuition
  • have a place to live

Also, the situation in your home country should allow you to come back after you’re done with your studies.

Some additional rights and duties:

  • You cannot manage your own business, or say you’re an independent businessman, to satisfy the show money requirement
  • If you’re given a student visa, you can work for up to 20 hours per week.
  • You can invite your husband, live-in partner and/or children to live with you.
  • The time you have a student visa does not count if you apply for a permanent visa.

(Source: udi.no)

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But then, something good happened for me. In January 2016, I met my (now) husband. (My Husband’s Proposal in Tenerife) And a year later, we got married! (The Ultimate Pinay Guide to Getting Married in Norway) In short, I had to apply for a family reunification visa instead of a student visa in 2017.

My husband is Swedish, i.e., an EU and Nordic citizen. And that gave me the opportunity to apply for a student loan and stipend from Lånekassen. Lånekassen is the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund, founded by the Ministry of Education and Research (Kunnskapsdepartementet). I think (and have been told) that majority of students in Norway and Norwegian exchange students abroad, get student loan and stipend from Lånekassen. I really believe that this is something many countries should have — a form of financial support for students, a scheme which offers a good deal!

First, who can apply for a student loan and stipend?

  • Norwegian students
  • Other student/s who is/are:
    • an EU/EØS citizen working and living in Norway. Your studies must be in line with your job (same field).
    • a family member of an EU/EØS citizen who is working and living in Norway. Your EU/EØS family sponsor must not be just a student in Norway.
    • holders of a permanent visa in Norway
    • asylum seekers and refugees who have been granted residence permit
    • holders of permanent or temporary visa due to strong humanitarian reason
    • spouse of a Norwegian citizen. You must live with your Norwegian spouse.
    • full-time employee for the last 24 months and paying tax to Norway
    • have been a student for the past 36 months in Norway and passed 180 studiepoeng. You cannot have received study loan or stipend from any other organizations both in Norway and abroad.

(Source: lånekassen.no)

Next, what kind of financial support can you get? This is a pretty broad topic, to be honest! They have lots of schemes and arrangements, like financial support for children or babies of students, financial support for women who got pregnant during their studies, etc. So I’ll just focus on regular loan and stipend scheme for this entry.

If you go to a recognized school, you can get loan and stipend for up to 8 years. Everybody gets a base loan, and 40% of it can become stipend if you pass all your subjects and finish your degree on time! Yipee! The loan is interest free all throughout the duration of your studies. When you’re done with your studies, they’ll send you a payment plan after about 6 months, and you start paying up the loan (minus the stipend you’ve incurred!) with additional interest.

For example: This coming school year, the base loan is 123 519 kroner. If you pass all your subjects, 49 408 kroner can become stipend! Therefore, it is IMPORTANT to pass all your subjects! (pressure-pressure) Around November of every school year, Lånekassen sends a letter indicating how much of the base loan has been changed to stipend. Another plus for Lånekassen is that they have internal connection with other governmental agencies. They can do a background check without talking to you, for example, they get your enrollment details or your transcript of records to see if you pass your subjects directly from your school, or your income and taxes paid from Skatteetaten, or your living situation and address from Folkeregisteret. All after you agree with their terms and conditions at the beginning of each school year, of course.

Can you still work part-time while studying and getting loan/stipend from Lånekassen? YES. But you cannot earn more than 188 509 kroner in 2020! This inntektgrense (salary limit) changes from year to year, so as the base loan, so please check Lånekassen’s webpage.

For the whole first school year (2017-2018), I have been living off of loan/stipend from Lånekassen, own savings and support from my husband. After the first praksisperiode in a sykehjem (nursing home), I got my first real job in Norway. I did try to look for part-time jobs at restaurants and grocery stores earlier, but when I told them I have only been living in Norway for 2 years, they turned me down. And I didn’t really get that much response. It only changed after I finished my first school year as a nursing student and started looking for jobs in the health care system. Before starting my studies, I have also been consistently sending financial support to my family in the Philippines. But during the first school year, I had to send money on a random basis.

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NOW: Studying in a public school in Norway is NOT entirely for free. You have to pay a semestral fee, and that changes from school year to school year. Here are the fees I paid since the first semester:

fee

Of the semestral fee, more than half goes to the Studentsamskipnaden (Student Organization). The rest goes to Kopinor and printing services (50 kroner). So every semester, we get printing services in the library worth 50 kr, and we avail it by using our student ID on the printing machine. There is also a small voluntary amount that goes to SAIH or Studentenes og Akademikernes Internasjonale Hjelpefond, an independent organization which collects international fund for promoting education as a right.

Education is an investment. Especially for me and you (?) who are immigrants in Norway (or any other country). We have to prove what we can do with a piece of paper called a diploma. My smart husband didn’t go to college or university, but by just using his skills and intelligence and good work ethics, he landed good jobs. Also, Scandinavia is his territory. 😉

Nah.. I just love the academe and would probably be in a lifelong learning scheme for the rest of my life. ❤

Well, that’s one way, or several ways, to finance your studies in Norway! I leave other saving tips and source of income to other blogs/vlogs. 🙂 Up next: presenting my second alma mater — the University of South-eastern Norway (Universitetet i Sørøst Norge)! #spreadlove