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Is a lack of money causing you stress, or threatening to affect your studies? Come to us for advice. We can help you set up a plan, or guide you to someone that can help.

There are several funds available for students facing financial hardship during their course, including:

UCL Financial Support

Financial Assistance Funds

The Financial Assistance Funds are intended to support students who began their academic year having made realistic and adequate financial provision, but who have encountered unexpected circumstances that put them into financial difficulty. There are two separate funds, both of which are now open for the 2020/21 academic year:

Financial Assistance Fund for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students (FAF)

Financial Assistance Fund for Postgraduate Research Students (FAF-PGR)

**Please note, this fund is offered to support living costs (including term-time private rental costs) for the current academic year only and will not be awarded to pay tuition fees. Students with outstanding tuition fee debt are not eligible to apply for this fund.**

Principles of the UCL Financial Assistance Funds Assessment and Awards:

Awards cannot be used to pay tuition fees

An award will not be made if it is to be used to pay fees. In effect, this would amount to UCL paying itself and this is not really seen as an appropriate use of a hardship fund. There are very few (if any) hardship funds that would offer support towards fees payments/fee debt. As part of the calculation, the team will look at any assets or income you have and will deduct the fees from this before including it in the calculation. For example, if you had £15,000 in savings and your tuition fees were £14,000, then only £1,000 of savings would be considered in the application. The advice if you are struggling to meet a fee payment is that you should approach the fees team (fees@ucl.ac.uk) or your department to discuss a payment plan.

Applications are considered for the current year only

The team will only look at financial difficulties for this academic year (so, at the moment, up to August 2020). This is because the calculation looks at actual shortfall rather than anticipated shortfall, so if you are wanting to apply for any support for the 2020/2021 year, you would need to apply in October 2020 when the fund opens for the year. In light of the current situation, it is possible that the closing/opening dates for applications may change – we will make sure to keep you updated on any developments.

Awards will not be made if you did not make a realistic financial provision for your studies

The calculation uses a baseline ‘notional’ income for all applicants (sometimes called the ‘minimum reasonable provision’). This is where an assumption is made about the minimum income/funding you would need to have in place in order to study. Even if you are telling them you have no income now, this figure will still be entered as part of the calculation. This is done on the basis that if there really was no income/financial provision then it would not be an appropriate or equitable use of a hardship fund to provide support if you had not made suitable arrangements in the first place. We have been assured that in situations where a student reasonably planned to earn a certain amount through part-time work but is now unable to, this will be taken into account in the assessment.

Awards will not be made if you have savings (even if these are set aside for another purpose)

During the assessment all available funding you have will be considered, which includes savings. If you are retaining an amount in savings for another reason then this is unlikely to be taken into account (unless a very compelling argument is made). This similar to a welfare benefits application – before granting a regular benefit payment, you are expected to have used all other resources available to you first. This does reinforce the idea that this is a hardship fund (there to offer assistance when there are no other options) rather than a grant, bursary or scholarship. It is true that students often have more complex lives than we imagine and so the idea that you may be expected to use all available funds when you also want to be responsible and safeguard some money for other purposes can be uncomfortable, but it is the approach taken.

Awards will not be made simply to avoid incurring debt

The application process will also expect you to have exhausted all other funding options available, such as loans and grants. It will be taken into account if you are not taking a loan or Student Finance England funding for religious reasons, but it will still consider if you made realistic provision from other sources in light of this.

Awards are unlikely to be made to clear pre-existing debts

It is very unlikely you will be given money to clear debts such as overdrafts or other ‘non-priority’ debts (such as credit card bills, payday loans or money owed to family and friends). If you began your studies with a debt (it was ‘pre-existing’) then you will be expected to have taken this into account when planning how you would fund you’re your studies, but it may be looked at on a case-by–case basis. However, if the debt is urgent (for example you are subject to a CCJ or bailiff action) and it was incurred whilst you were studying then it will be taken into consideration as part of the overall assessment.

Awards are only offered where there is a financial shortfall

Finally, and perhaps most relevant to a lot of students in the current climate, unforeseen costs or a loss of income alone is not enough to qualify for an award. Awards are granted based on the overall shortfall, which is why the notional income, any savings and any other funding streams that could be accessed are so important. This also underlines the approach that anticipated issues are not considered; only your current situation and the impact on this academic year will be looked at.

 

Emergency Loans

Limited cash loans of up to £250 (interest free, usually for a period of 1 month) are available to students who have experienced a delay in their normal funding being paid. Payments are usually made by cheque collected in person, but this has now been changed to BACS payments.

Doctoral School Fellowship

Doctoral School Fellowship supports research students who, due to unforeseen circumstances, have their funding interrupted or completely withdrawn. To qualify candidates must be progressing well academically and demonstrate that without financial assistance they would not be able to complete their studies. The amount of the award is based on the annual standard rate for UCL Studentships and will be pro-rated to cover the period support is needed.

The Head of Department must apply on behalf of the student (by email to the Head of Student Funding).

Medical Student Support

The UCL Medical School has various funds available, including hardship funds. Application details can be found here. They also provide links to external sources of financial support for medical students. 

The NHS Hardship Grant may also be able to provide support.

Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund 

The Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund is administered through the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service. The aim of the fund is to help UCL students who are experiencing financial difficulty and have no other form of support available (including further support from UCL student hardship funds). Successful applicants will usually receive grants to help them through a period of financial difficulty. Students are usually expected to have applied to for the UCL Emergency Loan or FAF.

For more information and to apply to the Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund, please use our contact form to make an appointment with an Advisor.

Charities and Other Help

There are charities out there that can help you if you fall under certain criteria. Some offer small one-off payments, based on factors such as nationality, family circumstances, religion or disabilities.

Look for these publications in your local library for more information:

- The Charities Digest

- The Grants Register

- The Directory of Grant Making Trusts

- The Educational Grants Directory