General assessment information

We will assess your Access to Learning Fund application with reference to your income and outgoings for the whole academic year.

Some restrictions apply to different groups of students.

The minimum grant is £100 and the maximum is £3,500. If your assessed need is less than £100, you will not receive an award.

Unless you have exceptional circumstances, you will usually initially receive 70% of your assessed award. If the budget allows, we will make a top-up payment of up to the remaining 30% later in the year. We review the budget in March and will tell you the decision. 

Income and expenditure 

We calculate your income and expenditure for the whole of your academic year, and may apply certain limits and disregards. If your assessed income is less than your expenditure, we will usually award the difference as an Access to Learning Fund (ALF) grant. The ALF is a limited fund and so, depending on the budget, it may not be possible to meet all of your assessed need.

Part-time undergraduate students

The ALF will normally help only with your course-related costs, such as books, travel, field trips, childcare, and not general living costs or tuition fees. You are expected to fund your living costs from other sources.

Postgraduate and previous study students

For undergraduates with reduced funding due to previous study, and for all postgraduates, there is a separate assessment process. You are expected to have made provision for all living costs and tuition fees at the outset of the course. You will not be considered for an award unless there has been an exceptional and unforeseen change in your financial circumstances since the start of your course.

The following will not be accepted as exceptional circumstances:

·         having inadequate funding at the start of the academic year;

·         PhD students who have not made provision for year 4;

·         intentionally leaving paid employment due to unsuitability or due to pressure of course work;

·         reduced earnings when hours/wages were not guaranteed by a contract;

·         failure to obtain employment that was part of the intended financial provision;

·         ineligibility for student funding, loans, bursaries or scholarships;

·         withdrawal of support from family;

·         fluctuations in exchange rates.

This is not an exhaustive list and other circumstances may not be considered unforeseen and/or exceptional.

Non-standard awards

These can be considered when you have unexpected or emergency costs: for example, repairs to essential household equipment, a domestic crisis, a burglary or an accident.

If the situation is an emergency, we will assess your application as quickly as possible. However, it is unlikely that you will receive an answer on the same day that you submit your application.