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SU for international students how to apply

As a full degree EU student in Denmark you can get SU, the famed Danish study grant. But the rules are complicated, and you need to have a paying part-time job before you can apply

(Article updated June 2019, originally published in 2016)

SU (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte) is the Danish state educational grant for students, and is one of the most generous in the world.

At time of writing, the SU rate is DKK 6,166  a month (approximately EUR 820 before taxes for students who are not living with parents and who are over 20. Students who live with their parents get less.)

A few years ago Denmark was forced to open up their SU system to EU citizens. But since then the Danish government has reacted to the demand for the grants by tightening regulations, making it harder and harder for EU citizens to apply.

Rules ambiguous on sites

Still, in principle, foreign students that do full degrees in Denmark are eligible (see below). You can apply for, and get, SU just like Danish students, provided you have a job on the side.

But which things should you, as an international student, consider? The rules are (maybe deliberately!) stated unclearly on many Danish government sites. A lot of students are confused and unsure about whether they meet the requirements.

You are eligible for SU, if:

You are a Danish citizen. However, the EU has forced Denmark to play by the rules and not discriminate unduly against non-Danish EU citizens.

Foreign (non-Danish) citizens can be granted ‘equal status’ to Danish citizens and apply for SU for a study programme in Denmark under two sets of rules 1) Danish rules or 2) EU law. You apply under which ever set of rules will get you the grant, as there are different conditions you must fulfil:

Danish rules

If you apply under Danish rules you must fulfil one of the following:

  • You came to Denmark with your parents
  • You are married to a Danish citizen
  • You have worked in Denmark
  • You have resided in Denmark for a minimum of 5 years
  • You belong to the Danish minority in Southern Slesvig
  • You are a refugee or have been granted family reunification

There are a bunch of other stipulations here:

EU law

You can apply for ‘equal status’ with Danish citizens, and thereby apply for an SU grant, on the basis of EU law if you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway) or Switzerland.

This can be if:

  • You have status as a worker or have retained your status as a worker in Denmark, or
  • You have resided in Denmark for five years

You can also apply if you are related to a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, like for example:

  • You are the child of an EU/EEA citizen
  • You are married to an EU/EEA citizen
  • You are the parent of an EU/EEA citizen

If you fulfil one of the above criteria for eligibility, you have to prove that you

  • have a job with minimum 10 – 12 hours a week for the last 10 weeks

Your work must be based in Denmark (paying Danish taxes) and you need an address in Denmark and a CPR number. Only paid work matters; unpaid internships and volunteer work is not eligible for SU. The wage should be at least DKK 90-100 per hour or more.

You can work as many hours as you want, but you shouldn’t surpass the maximum of DKK 13,375 before tax per month (only salary, SU is not included in this sum)

Owners of start-ups and self-employed students don’t have the monthly pay slips to prove the monthly hours, but they can still apply for SU. In this case you have to hand in your income tax statement at the end of the tax year and prove that you have paid enough taxes to get SU.

You are not eligible for SU, if:

  • You are not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • You are an exchange student, doing a full degree at your home country. You must be studying a full-time, full degree in Denmark
  • You work unpaid or volunteering work
  • You work less than 10 hours per week and 43 hours per month

SU office will check

The SU office will normally check the average salary and hours of every 3 month period and make sure you meet all the requirements, but in some cases, they check every month as well.

If you don’t fulfill the requirements, you will have to pay back the entire amount of SU you get during the offending time period. The University Post looked into just how far the SU office will go to get its money back here.

However, they offer students to pay back in monthly installments – so no worries, you don’t have to pay it all at once.

Apply on the ‘Min SU’ page

Still, be cautious and report to the SU office when you don’t meet the requirement. They will stop your grant for that time but you will get it when you fulfill the rules.

Read more: Danish students get the highest study grants in Europe – by far

If you have a ‘NemID’ you put in your application on the page min SU’.

After you put in your application, there is not much more to do than to wait patiently. The SU office can get back to you in one to three months, but if you are lucky, you will hear from them earlier.

Good news though, if your application gets approved, you will get your SU paid from the date you applied (in my (Tuni’s) case for example, I got paid 2 months of SU back in the start).

Use your e-boks

Make sure you have your e-boks (electronical post box) set up, because SU will only contact you there and not in written letters or emails to your private email address.

If you still have questions or are uncertain if your case is able to apply for SU, you can go to the SU counselor at your university. or call the SU office: +45 72317920. (Expect to be on hold for around 20-30 minutes, but they play enjoyable calm music in the background)

You can also contact them on twitter @minSU_dk or via your e-boks.

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