Unfortunately for most students, it is common that they will struggle financially during their time at university, be it with regards to their student funding application, a build-up of debts, or learning to budget etc.
If you do experience financial difficulties, or have any questions, then we would always advise students to contact us as soon as possible. Our experienced advisers can help you to understand your rights, and explore all your options with you.
> I haven't received my loan, what should I do?
You will not receive any loan payments until a few days after you have enrolled on your course. You can check your online account and make sure you have submitted all the requested documents and declaration.
You can contact the agency providing the loan;
Student Finance England - 0300 100 0607
Student Finance Wales - 0300 200 4050
Student Awards Agency for Scotland - 0300 555 0505
Student Finance Northern Ireland - 0300 100 0077
Keep a record of any contacts you have with the agency. You can use the phones in the Advice Centre at the HUBS for free and we can offer further support if you need it.
> Can I claim benefits whilst I am a student?
Most students in full-time Higher Education are not eligible to claim benefits for the duration of their course, including summer vacations. Part time students are not affected by these rules and can claim in the same way as non-students.
The following students may be entitled to benefits;
• Lone parents
• Student couples
• Those with limited capability for work
• Disabled students
• Those who have taken time out from their course due to illness or caring responsibilities which has ended but you have not yet returned to your course.
If you cannot claim benefits as a full-time student your spouse or partner may be able to claim on your behalf as long as they fit the normal criteria.
Calculating benefit entitlements for students is complicated and benefits agencies/local councils can make mistakes. Some student funding is considered as income for benefits purposes, but some is also disregarded. If you think you are entitled to benefits or have received a wrong decision contact us for a benefits check and further advice.
> Is there any extra funding available?
If your circumstances have changed you may become entitled to benefits or increased student finance. However, it will depend on your individual circumstances and you should seek advice.
The Sheffield Hallam Hardship Fund can provide extra support for students in certain groups or those who are experiencing financial difficulties due to unforeseen circumstances.
You will need to be in receipt of your full entitlement of student funding and any benefits you are entitled to before an award can be made. The Advice Service can do a funding check for you.
The form and guidance notes are available here
and give more details of who might receive an award and how to apply.
> Do I have to pay Council Tax?
Full time students do not have to pay Council Tax. You can prove your student status by downloading a copy of your Certificate of Student Status from 'My Student Record' which is part of SHUspace and submitting this to your local Council.
If you live with a non-student there may still be a bill to pay. You may be able to receive a 'single person discount' if there is only one adult in the property who is not exempt, for example, a spouse or partner.
You may also be entitled to Council Tax Support. Each Local Authority has its own scheme therefore you should seek details from the relevant authority.
If you are not sure if you should pay Council Tax then contact the Advice Service for further advice. If you are liable for Council Tax you should ensure that you maintain a regular payment agreement with the local authority. If you do not pay your Council Tax bill you may be issued with a Court Summons and Liability Order. Both of these incur extra costs. If you do not contact the local authority about arrears or fail to make payments Enforcement Agents (formerly known as bailiffs) can be instructed to collect arrears from you. If you receive any letters regarding this action then seek advice immediately.
> I need to repeat a year - can I get funding for this?
If you have failed a year of your course or had to take a break in study and have not previously repeated any years you should be able to use your 'gift year'. All Student Finance England funded students are allocated funding for the length of their course plus an extra year, which is called a 'gift year'.
If you have used your gift year or have experienced illness or other extenuating circumstances during the year you can apply to Student Finance England to grant you discretionary funding for Compelling Personal Reasons (CPR). If you think this applies to you please contact the Advice Service for further information and support.
To apply for Compelling Personal Reasons you will need to provide evidence of your situation from a professional agency/ person, for example a letter from your GP providing details of your diagnosis and the dates it affected you (these need to be within the Academic Year for which you would like to be considered). You will also need to write to SFE explaining why you are applying and which year it is for.
You cannot usually apply for Compelling Personal Reasons to change course or for years of study which you have passed.
If you have previously been enrolled on a different course you may be subject to 'Previous Study rules' which may prevent you from receiving any extra years of funding needed to complete the course. If this applies please contact the Advice Service.
> What can I do if I can't pay for a bill or other money I owe?
If you are unable to pay something you may be able to negotiate with the company or person you owe the money to. The sooner debts are dealt with the better. They may allow you to arrange a repayment plan. Don't increase your debts to pay things off and don't agree to an unaffordable repayment plan.
Some debts are classed as priority debts - these are considered the most important and the ones you should pay first.
• Mortgage or rent
• Council Tax
• Utilities - gas, electric and water
• Court fines
• Hire purchase for essential items
• TV Licence
Non-payment of priority debts may lead to eviction, Enforcement Agent warrants, disconnection of supply, goods repossession, magistrate's fines and County Court Judgements.
Non- priority debts include;
• Bank loans and overdrafts
• Credit cards, store cards and catalogues
• Hire purchase for non-essential items
• Pay day loans
• Informal loan from friends or family
Non-payment of non-priority debts may lead to interest and charges added to the debt, goods being repossessed, or County Court Judgements.
Debts to the University could result in you being unable to progress, graduate or being excluded from University IT access until any money owed is repaid.
If you are concerned about money you owe and what you should do then contact the Advice Service for help immediately.
> Where can I find out how much funding I can get?
Student Finance England funding is changing from September 2016 - if you are already a student these changes should not affect you. Loans are means tested and the amount you receive will depend on household income.
If you are a full-time Student Finance England funded student starting in September 2016 then you can get information here
If you are a full-time continuing Student Finance England funded student in September you can get help here
If you are starting an NHS course in September 2016 you can get information, apply and get an estimated bursary calculation here
From September 2017 NHS courses will be funded by Student Finance England. More information will be available on this as soon as it is published.
From September 2016 Postgraduate loan are available through Student Finance England
If you are unsure about eligibility, what you may be entitled to, how student funding interacts with benefits, what counts as income or have any other funding questions please contact the Advice Service who can provide a funding check and/or benefits calculation.
Are you studying in 2016/7 ?
For students continuing on their course 2016/7 we have been informed by the Student Loans Company (SLC) that before continuing students apply for funding you should wait for Student Finance England (SFE) to contact you.
SFE aim to automatically process a number of student applications, this process is being rolled out for 2016/7.
For students who are not automatically processed SFE will contact them to make an online application in March.
Students can contact us with any questions via our Contact Us page.
The University offers a free online resource, Blackbulion, to help you learn how to manage your money. 89% of the students who use it feel more confident about their financial future. Visit go.shu.ac.uk/manageyourmoney to start saving today.
Financial Services Register No: 618832