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Your Finances

Student Finance - Access Funds and Hardship Loans

Introduction

Students in financial difficulty are entitled to and for help. They can use these funds to help them with living costs such as travel, rent, food, accommodation, and books. However, these funding sources can only be applied for once the course has started.

Talks should be held with your if you think that you will require these additional loans, before you start the course. Your advisor will be able to advise you in order to choose the right scheme. Also, it may be possible to apply for both of these funds. For both Access Funds and Hardship Loans, your will decide which students will be permitted to the , and also how much each student will be entitled to.

Both are explained below.

Access Funds

Students with special cases, or who have a confirmed financial need, will be provided with Access Funds. This also includes those who have disabilities (physical or other), who would not be able to continue with the course. The amount allocated is according to each student's needs.

Students can apply for Access Funds due to a number of reasons, which include rent, course costs, travel, living costs, or childcare.

Who is eligible for Access Funds?

Only full-time and some part-time students are eligible for Access Funds, and they must be studying Further and Higher Education Courses. However, there are other criteria that must be fulfilled for a student to be eligible for Access Funds:
  • You must have been a UK resident for a minimum of three years before the start of the course.
  • You must have applied for all other income including Student Loans, , and the Hardship Loan.
  • If you are eligible for a , to apply for an Access Fund, you must have applied for your full entitlement of the Student Loan.
  • You must prove that you are in dire need of the money and cannot cope without it.

How much is available?

Access Funds are either given to the students as a short-term loan or as a . (The second option is more common).

Normally the amount that you receive depends upon your personal situation. However, the amount can also change due to the number of applications the university receives and also the amount available to allocate.

During each , it is important to remember that you can apply for Access Funds on more than one occasion. When you apply for Access Funds you will need to have with you some detailed evidence of your financial background/situation. Universities regard this as important information while considering your application.

The way your fund is managed, processed, and allocated depends on the University. This is why the criteria for eligibility are varied from University to University, even though they do have similarities through the national framework. In the same way, the University also manages appeals from unhappy students.

This means that any priority systems for allocating money and the amounts available for individuals differ between each University.

Hardship Loans

In 1998, were introduced for new students. As a top up to the , they were continued in 1999, however, this fund was to be only available only for 1998 and 1999 students. Universities are provided with the funding for Hardship Loans, to distribute to students appropriately depending on their situation.

The purpose of Hardship Loans is to supply the students with a small amount of money whenever they are struggling financially.

As with , to be eligible, students must have taken out their full student loan entitlement.

Who is eligible for Hardship Loans?

Hardship Loans can be applied for if a student is facing exceptional financial hardship such that the is satisfied that they would not be able to continue the course without further assistance. Again, it is the University that decides whether the student meets the additional criteria. The criteria include:

  • Only students that are eligible for a student loan can apply for a hardship loan.
  • The student must have taken out the full Student Loan entitlement.
  • The first student loan instalment must have been received before an application can be made.

In addition, the assessors will make sure that the student cannot get money from any other source. However, they are empathetic, if you have a strong enough case, the University will more than likely do their best to help.

How much can you borrow?

Normally Hardship Loans enable students to borrow between 100.00 and 250.00. In some exceptional circumstances this may be increased to 500.00. This loan will be added to the main student loan for repayment later. Again, you need to provide evidence of your financial background/situation.

Restrictions

Unlike Access Funds, Hardship Loans can only be granted once in any academic year and must be applied for one month before the end of the academic year. These cannot be used for assistance with .

Process for Access Funds and Hardship Loans

The application process for both of these funds is similar because they both have to be applied for through your University. The University Student Services or the normally manage the application process. Each university has their own process; nevertheless most will be similar to the one given below. You should use this as a guide:
  • Complete the Forms - After making the initial contact, you will be sent an application form that you are asked to complete. This will be analysed at your first interview.
  • Preliminary Interview - This is the first part of the interview process and will usually be with a . During this interview, you will need to account for your personal income and expenditure. Also, you will need to show evidence of your last six months bank statements, proof of rent agreements, and any other receipts of expenditure. You will also need to state the reason why you require the grant during this interview.
  • Assessment - A panel will assess your application, including the details of your case and your reasons for the funding. Each case will be assessed on its own merits. Therefore you should show that you have exhausted all other financial means (such as student loans and overdrafts) to be successful in your application. You must be able to prove that you are in financial difficulty in order to be approved for this funding.

If your application is approved after this assessment, you should receive the payment by or alternately the money will be transferred directly into your bank account.

Additional Information

If you are in need of any other advice or guidance see your and also contact your local University Welfare Officer who should be able to give you detailed information about the available funds and schemes.