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SU: Can foreigners receive Denmark’s state student grant?

The Local Denmark
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SU: Can foreigners receive Denmark’s state student grant?
Students from EU and EEA countries can qualify for Denmark's SU student grant under certain rules. Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Danish students can claim the national state student grant (SU) when enrolled on approved youth and higher education programmes. But can foreign nationals also qualify for the state-financed student support?


Denmark’s state student grant – statens uddannelsesstøtte to give it its official name but commonly referred to as “SU” – is the grant which the majority of students on higher education programmes in Denmark receive to cover their basic living costs.

The monthly amount of SU a student receives varies depending on the criteria they fulfil, but students who do not live at home, are over 18 years old and are enrolled on an approved full time education programme currently receive 6,321 kroner per month before tax.

Although you must normally be a Danish citizen to receive SU, foreign nationals (more specifically, people from EU or EEA countries) can also be eligible if they fulfil certain criteria. This involves applying for ligestilling – equal status – with Danish nationals and therefore being approved for SU.


There is an important distinction between two different sets of rules under which foreign students in Denmark can become eligible for SU: EU rules and Danish rules. Depending on the rules you apply under, the criteria you must fulfil to be approved for SU will be different.

It should be noted, though, that only citizens of EU or EEA countries can claim SU in Denmark, regardless of which rules are applied. People from countries outside the EU and EEA are not permitted to receive SU in Denmark under the terms of their student residence permits. The only exception to this is British citizens who moved to Denmark before January 1st 2021 -- more detail on this can be found below.

Danish rules

There are several different criteria which can qualify you as eligible for SU under Denmark’s own rules. They are outlined in the overview below. If you think you may qualify under one of them, you can read in more detail on the SU website.

You can be approved for SU under Danish equal status rules if:

  • You moved to Denmark with your parents before you turned 20 and have been a legal resident of the country since then, and your parents still reside here
  • You are married to a Danish national and have been married at least two years at the time of application. You must also have lived in Denmark for at least two years when you apply.
  • You work or have worked in Denmark for at least two years (continuously) for at least 30 hours per week.
  • You have lived in Denmark for at least five years continuously. A condition of this is that you did not move to Denmark for the primary purpose of studying.
  • You are part of the Danish minority population of the German region Southern Schleswig.
  • You are a are in Denmark due to family reunification and are therefore covered by integration laws.

You should note that if you qualify under Danish rules, you could lose eligibility for SU if you leave the country for two years or more.

Again, please note that the above only applies of you are from an EU or EEA country. Nationals of other countries are not permitted to receive SU under Danish rules.


EU rules

If you are the citizen of an EU or EEA country (the EU plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) or the family member (parent, spouse or child) of an EU or EEA country citizen, you can apply for equal status under EU rules and thereby receive SU for studying in Denmark or abroad.

Two situations can provide the basis for equal status under EU rules.

The first of these relates to EU or EEA nationals who work in Denmark. People who work or are self-employed in Denmark can receive SU if they continue to work while studying.

Each individual case will be assessed individually to ascertain whether the work in question is faktisk og reel (“actual and genuine”). However, a job of at least 10-12 hours per week, which you have had for at least 10 weeks, is considered a general baseline for meeting the criteria. Other aspects of the employment are also taken into effect – such as your pay, whether you accrue holiday, get sick pay, or are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.


You must continue in the job throughout your studies in order to keep receiving SU under the above EU rules, and your SU will be stopped if you are no longer working. Regular checks are made with tax authorities.

An exception to this is if you study a programme that is a continuation of your previous work – for example, you have worked in childcare and now want to take the formal education – or if you need to retrain, for instance if an injury or illness prevents you from continuing in your current profession. In such cases, you can receive SU under the EU rules relating to employment without continuing in your job.


For self-employed people, the assessment made is rather more complex but is made on the same principle of ensuring that you have a real business and are participating in the economy in a stable and sustainable way. You can see the criteria for this in detail (in Danish) here.

The second situation in which you can qualify for SU under EU rules is if you have lived in Denmark for five years or more. You must be a citizen of an EU or EEA country (or a family member to one).

Your period of residence in Denmark must be continuous and your right to SU lapses if you have lived outside of the country for two years or more.

British citizens

British nationals are not citizens of an EU or EEA country and so in principle are not covered by the above rules. However, this does not apply to people from the UK who moved to Denmark before the UK left the EU at the end of the transitional period on December 31st 2020.

Britons who moved to Denmark before or on December 31st 2020 are covered by the EU-UK withdrawal agreement and can therefore apply for equal status and receive SU under EU rules. Those who moved to Denmark on or after January 1st 2021 cannot qualify for SU in Denmark. 

Where do I apply?

Via the SU website. You must complete the section entitled “Application for equal status (foreign citizens)” and will be asked to submit documentation such as ID or proof of employment if relevant.

You can read more on the application system via the SU website in English here.



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