Debts and managing your money

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.

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I can't pay for my bills or 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. The creditor 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. These include:

  • Rent or mortgage (or secured loan arrears)
  • Council Tax
  • Utilities - gas, electricity
  • Court fines
  • Hire purchase for essential items
  • TV Licence

There are others; see the Citizens Advice website for more information.

Non-payment of priority debts may lead to eviction / the loss of your home, disconnection of supply, reposession of goods, magistrate's fines / other punishments, and even imprisonment.

Non-priority debts include;

  • Bank loans and overdrafts
  • Credit cards, store cards and catalogues
  • Hire purchase for non-essential items
  • Pay day loans
  • Telephone (unless essential, e.g. because of a health condition)
  • 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. See the Citizens Advice website for more information.

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 paid. In some circumstances, students may be withdrawn from their course for non-payment of tuition fees.  See the section on Tuition Fee Debt below for more information about this.

If you are concerned about money you owe and what you should do contact us for help immediately.  We can check whether you are getting all the funding or benefits that you are entitled to, and can signpost you to organisations that provide debt advice, such as Citizens Advice or National Debtline.  If you have been informed of immediate action being taken against you, such as bailiffs or court proceedings, please contact these organisations directly as soon as possible.


You have access to a free online resource, Blackbullion, to help you learn how to manage your money. 89% of the students who use it feel more confident about their financial future. Start saving today.

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Tuition Fee Debt

If you are having difficulties paying your tuition fees, it is important that you contact the Invoicing team in Finance before the payment deadline, to discuss an extension or a payment plan. If your fees are not paid on time, and a formal extension or payment plan has not been agreed, you may be excluded from your course. See the University's policy on Managing Students in Tuition Fee Debt for more information about steps the University may take if you don't pay your tuition fees as requested.  If there has been an issue with your student funding, and this has caused the problem with your tuition fee payments, it is recommended that you contact us for advice about your funding and that you tell Invoicing that you are seeking advice from the SU Advice Service. 

The Invoicing team is currently experiencing a large volume of calls and emails, so there is likely to be a significant delay in receiving a response. Because of this, if you wish to submit a payment plan request we are currently recommending that you complete this fully here and submit this AND send the Invoicing team an email explaining that you have submitted a payment plan request and the date you submitted it, and asking them to consider your request:  You will have to provide details of why you cannot pay your fees before the deadline, your proposed schedule of payment instalments, and documents evidencing that you will be able to keep to a payment plan if this is agreed (e.g. bank statements, payment slips, work contracts).  Only propose a payment plan if you can fulfil it.  If you want to call the Invoicing team to confirm they have received your email / payment plan proposal, the number is 0114 225 2478. 

Make sure to include your student ID and full name (as per your enrolment) in any correspondence you send to the Invoicing team.  The Invoicing team have confirmed that they will check their emails to see if a student has contacted them, before they take any enforcement action relating to tuition fee debt. If you are notified of action against you (e.g. pre-exclusion) or you have previously contacted the Invoicing team but have not received a response, please contact us.

Note that by continuing on the course you are building up a greater amount of fees that will be owed for the year (as this is calculated proportionally), and if you are not able to resolve the issue with your funding you will be liable to pay these fees.  However, please also note that if you withdraw or take a break in study part-way through the year, it will be counted as a year of study and is likely to affect the fee support you can get in the future.  It is recommended that you contact us for advice before you make a decision about this.