If, while you’re a student, you find you’re struggling to make ends meet, you may be able to receive some extra financial help through funds administered by your University. Depending on the country in which you are studying, the funds have different names and may be run in slightly different ways by each University. Some of the schemes are funded by government money. Second degree, as well as first degree UK medical students, can apply for help from these funds.
England: Hardship funds or Access to Learning Fund (ALF)
The government has reviewed the Access to Learning Fund and has given universities the ability to rename their funds, so your institution may call these funds a different name. They are administered through your university, and are available to all eligible UK students studying in England. These funds provide help for students on a low income who may need extra financial support for their course and to stay in higher education. Payments are usually grants, but can be short-term loans.
To be eligible to apply you must have taken out your maximum maintenance student loan entitlement. Students are assessed on their individual need but certain groups have priority.
Application forms are detailed, as the fund administrators have to make sure you are eligible to apply and need to know about your personal financial situation. There’s an opportunity on the application form for you to put forward any extra information you feel would help your case. The best advice is to be honest and to try to put your points across briefly in a clear orderly and way. Remember also to provide all the documents you are asked for to support your claim.
Wales: Financial Contingency Fund (FCF)
The Financial Contingency Fund is available to all eligible UK students studying at Welsh universities. To be eligible you must have received the maximum student loan. You apply for help from the FCF through your University.
Northern Ireland: Support Funds
The Support Funds are available to all eligible UK students studying at Northern Irish Universities. You apply for help from the Support Funds through your University. There is more information on the NI Direct website here.
Scotland: Discretionary Funds
Discretionary Funds are provided by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to universities in Scotland to help students who, for whatever reasons, have financial difficulties. The funds are available to all eligible UK students studying in Scotland. You apply directly to the university for help, and they decide which students should receive payments and how much each payment should be. You must be accessing the full student finance package available to you.