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Durham University

Student Finance

How The Student Support Fund Can Help You

The Student Support Fund is a discretionary fund. This means that you are not guaranteed to receive an award from it if you apply. However if you meet certain critera, some of which are set out below, you may receive an award.

If you don't think you will get an award, but are still worried about your finances, contact one of the Student Support Fund administrators on student.supportfund@durham.ac.uk. We will tell you if we think it is worth applying to the Student Support Fund. Even if we think it isn't we may be able to help you in other ways.

Short-term Loans

If you have a short-term cash flow problem you may be able to take out an interest-free Short-term Loan from the Student Support Fund.

We lend Short-term Loans to students who will receive guaranteed income in the near future (usually no longer than 4 weeks in the future). Students who have received Short-term Loans include those:

  • whose Maintenance Loan payments from Student Finance England (or equivalent) have been delayed;
  • whose Childcare Grants from Student Finance England (or equivalent) have been delayed;
  • whose Research Council stipend payments have been delayed.

Things to Note

  • we will ask you to complete a short on-line application form and to provide transaction reports/bank statements from all your bank accounts going back 6 months from the date on which you intend to submit your application form, plus proof of your "guaranteed income".
  • if we are not satisfied that your income is "guaranteed" we may not offer you a Short-term Loan.
  • if, when we look at your bank statements, we think that you have longer-term financial issues that won't be helped by a Short-term Loan we will ask you to complete a full application form (see under "Grants" below).
  • we usually ask students to repay their Short-term Loans within 4 weeks. However if your guaranteed income will take longer than this to reach you a longer repayment term can be arranged.

Grants

If the money available to you is lower than your essential expenditure according to our Assessment Procedure you may be eligible for a Grant from the Student Support Fund.

Grants are available to students who:

  • had a sound financial plan in place before they started their studies, for the entirety of their studies, which was then compromised by circumstances beyond their control;
  • AND who had a sound financial plan in place before the start of the academic year in which their application for financial support is being considered, which was then compromised by circumstances beyond their control;
  • OR whose income from statutory support and other reasonable sources of income does not cover the minimum level of expenditure for their personal circumstances (where the student does not already hold an undergraduate degree, and where the student did not start their studies in the knowledge that they had significant extra costs which would not be covered by statutory support and income from other reasonable sources);
  • AND who are not able to access income from any other reasonable source;
  • AND who have a shortfall between their income and the minimum level of expenditure for their personal circumstances according to the Assessment Procedure;
  • AND who do not require more than a capped amount of £5,500 for the duration of their studies at their current level to complete their studies or to end their studies at a logical point e.g. the end of an academic year;
  • AND who did not start their current programme of study with an outstanding debt to the Student Support Fund.

If you are not sure whether you meet these criteria contact contact the Student Support Fund administrators on student.supportfund@durham.ac.uk.

Things to Note

  • We will ask you to complete a detailed application form and provide transaction reports/bank statements from all your bank accounts going back six months from the date on which you intend to submit your application form, plus proof of income and expenditure (we will help you with this if necessary).
  • We may ask you for further information in connection with your application. If you are not able to provide information requested by the Student Support Fund administrators you may not receive an award from the Student Support Fund.
  • We will not consider your application without transaction reports/bank statements from all your bank accounts going back six months from the date on which you intend to submit your application form.
  • We will look at your transaction reports/bank statements in detail to get a picture of your current financial circumstances, plus your financial habits and behaviours (don't be put off if you think you have been overspending, this does not necessarily mean that you will not get a Grant from the Student Support Fund). We may ask you questions about your income/expenditure or about individual transactions on your transaction reports/bank statements. We don't want to be intrusive, but the more we know about your financial history and circumstances the more we can help you.
  • If you receive an award from the Student Support Fund we may not pay it to you until you have met with one of the Student Support Fund administrators to discuss your budget for the remainder of the academic year.
  • We will contact the Student Support Office in your College to let them know that you have submitted an application for financial support and discuss any relevant background information. We may also discuss your application with other relevant offices within the University.

Long Vacation Loans

Long Vacation Loans are interest-free loans which are awarded to students who are theoretically able to do paid work during the Long Vacation – i.e. in good health with no caring responsibilities or other circumstances which would preclude paid work – but who haven't been able to find paid work, or who have found paid work but won’t earn enough to meet their essential costs over the Long Vacation.

If you apply for a Long Vacation Loan we will calculate the shortfall between the money available to you at the start of the Long Vacation and your essential expenditure for the Long Vacation. We will then award you a Long Vacation Loan of this amount.

  • If , over the Long Vacation, you find paid work and earn as much as, or more than, the amount of your Long Vacation Loan you will be expected to repay the entirety of your Long Vacation Loan.
  • You will also be expected to repay the entirety of your Long Vacation Loan if you receive income from any other source to the value of, or greater than, your Long Vacation Loan over the Long Von.
  • If, over the Long Vacation, you find paid work but earn less than the amount of your Long Vacation Loan you will be expected to repay as much of your Long Vacation Loan as you earnt over the Long Vacation. The remainder of your Long Vacation Loan may be converted to a Grant, provided that you meet certain conditions.
  • If, over the Long Vacation, you received income from any other source you will be expected to repay as much of your Long Vacation Loan as you received. The remainder of your Long Vacation Loan may be converted to a Grant, provided that you meet certain conditions.
  • If, over the Long Vacation, you didn’t find any paid work and didn’t receive income from any other source your Long Vacation Loan may be converted to a Grant, provided that you meet certain conditions. If we award you a Long Vacation Loan we will tell you how and when to ask for it to be converted to a Grant.

If you are not able to do paid work during the Long Vacation due to illness, caring commitments or other circumstances which would preclude paid work we will assess you for a Grant from the Student Support Fund (see above).

Budgeting Advice

Many students who apply for financial support have actually got enough money to live on, they just haven't quite got their heads round living on a student budget. This is very common. If this is you, you won't get a Grant from the Student Support Fund, but we will give you budgeting suggestions and talk you through how to implement them. Nobody likes having their bank statements/transaction reports scrutinised or being told how to spend their money, but we will do our best to make it a non-judgemental and positive experience for you.

You may have to challenge some of your assumptions about what is necessary expenditure and/or about what you are "entitled" to spend. You may have to commit to spending less than your friends and peers and to live with feeling that this is "unfair". We know that these are difficult things to go through and will do our best to help.

Information About External Organisations

Depending on your financial and personal circumstances we may refer you to an external organisation (either instead of, or in addition to, assessing your application for financial support). External organisations we have referred students to include:

In certain circumstances we will refuse to assess your application for financial support until you have engaged with an external organisation. In some cases this will be if we think that you may be entitled to another form of financial support such as benefits. Other refusals are only done in extreme cases, for example if an applicant has a significant amount of debt or if they have been gambling. If this is you, we understand that you are in a difficult position and that you are probably very stressed. Whilst we will not make all your financial problems go away, and whilst we will expect you to take responsibility for your current financial circumstances by doing what we ask of you, we will do our best to be non-judgmental and supportive and to provide you with the help you need to finish your studies (within the eligibility criteria of the Student Support Fund; awards are not guaranteed).

Applicants with Mental Health Issues

Many students who apply for financial support experience mental health issues which mean that they find it difficult to manage their money. Whilst we understand this and are sympathetic we cannot condone or fund excessive expenditure whatever the cause. We work closely with the University's Mental Health Advisers and the Disability Service to ensure that we are dealing with applications from students with mental health issues appropriately.