How you are assessed
All applications to the Leeds Hardship Fund will be assessed impartially according to University procedures and by an experienced member of the Student Funding Team. Because the LHF is specifically to help towards living costs, tuition or examination fees will not be taken into consideration when assessing your financial need.
The LHF is a means tested assessment so not all applicants will receive an award. Before submitting a LHF application form, you are expected to have sought funding from all other available sources (for example, student loans, savings or financial help from family).
We will assess your LHF application by comparing your income with allowable expenditure for the whole academic year. The maximum grant is £4,000 and the minimum is £50.
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.
We apply a set expenditure level, based on state benefit rates, for general living costs: for example, food, utilities, contents insurance, clothes, TV licence, entertainment, and gym membership. General living costs are currently £84 a week for single students. There is a sliding scale for students with partners and/or children.
Course-related costs such as books, printing, study materials field trips are capped at £462 per year for full-time students. A pro rata figure is used for part-time assessments, according to study intensity. Course-related travel and childcare are counted separately.
Travel costs to and from the University are capped at the cost of a weekly student bus and rail pass.
You may be allowed travel costs above the ceiling if you live a long way from the University during term time, or if your journey to University is not practicable using public transport.
You may exceptionally be allowed reasonable car running costs if your journey to University is not practicable using public transport, or if your journey is more expensive by public transport. You would not be allowed the cost of running a car that is more expensive than is necessary.
Evidenced costs associated with specific learning disability diagnostic test costs will be included as a distinct cost within the overall assessment.
Full-time undergraduates (first degree only)
We calculate your income and expenditure for the whole of your academic year, but with certain limits and disregards. If your assessed income is less than your expenditure, we will usually award the difference as a Leeds Hardship Fund (LHF) grant. Medical students intercalating at postgraduate level will be assessed as postgraduates for that year only.
Your student funding will be counted as income with the following exceptions:
· Maintenance or Special Support Grant will be reduced by £1,998
· If your course started from 2016/17 onwards, part of your student loan may be disregarded
Any assessed parental contribution to your student loan will be included as income.
An ‘assumed income’ figure will be added to your income assessment, representing income you are expected to receive in addition to your student funding. The assumed income is £666 for final-year students and £1,998 for non-finalists. For students on courses with a particularly intensive workload and placement elements, mainly Healthcare courses, this is reduced to £1283 for non-finalists and is disregarded for finalists.
No assumed income will be applied to students with dependent children, and students unable to work due to ill health or a disability.
Please note that we disregard actual income from part-time work, as well as associated travel costs, and only count assumed income. If you earn more than the assumed income, we do not count the excess.
The following income sources will be disregarded:
- non-means-tested benefits
- disability-related benefits
- local authority care leavers' bursaries
- Child Benefit
We include money held in bank accounts and savings accounts in your income assessment because the LHF is intended to help with genuine hardship only.
Accommodation costs are capped at a rate above the average student rent for Leeds and above the local housing Allowance rate. The 2020/21 ceiling is £120 per week for students in the first year of study and £102 per week for subsequent years. An additional £49 per week is allowed for each additional family member.
The cost of travel to University is limited to the cost of a weekly Student MetroCard. Travel to your permanent home is capped at the cost of three trips per year by public transport
Car costs above the MetroCard limit can only be included in exceptional circumstances, eg when no suitable public transport is available. Placements are arranged to be within travel distance by public transport, so car use is rarely seen as essential for students with placements.
We do not normally include credit card balances, rent arrears or personal loans when assessing your expenditure, but we do include "priority debts".
A priority debt is a debt that would give the creditor the right to deprive the debtor of his or her home, liberty or essential goods and services, usually when a court order has been made against you.
If the main reason for your application to the Leeds Hardship Fund (LHF) is to help with debts, get advice from Leeds University Union Advice as well as applying to the LHF.
We calculate your income and expenditure for the whole of your academic year, but any award will be based on course-related income and costs only. You will need to evidence financial hardship to be considered for an award.
We include money held in bank accounts and savings accounts in your income assessment because the LHF is a hardship fund for students with no other money.
The Leeds Bursary for part-time students is disregarded as income.
The part-time undergraduate LHF Childcare Grant can contribute up to £750 towards registered or approved childcare costs.
To be eligible for the Grant you must:
- be an undergraduate part-time student parent
- be currently entitled to child tax credit
- be the main carer of a child under 15 years old, or 17 years old if the child is registered as having special educational needs
- use registered or approved childcare for the purposes of attending University
- not receive, nor your partner receive, the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or the NHS Childcare Grant.
The application process for Childcare Grant is simpler and quicker than the full LHF process, and you can apply using a separate from. Ask for a LHF Childcare Grant form at the Student Services Centre counter. If you decide to make a full LHF application, you will automatically be assessed for the Childcare Grant in any case.
An assessment of your income and expenditure will determine whether or not you have made financial provision for living costs and tuition fees before you can be considered for an award, regardless of your current circumstances. If your provision is assessed as inadequate, your application will be unsuccessful. If you are assessed as having made such provision, you will then need to evidence an unforeseen* change in your finances to be considered for an award.
*The following will not be accepted as unforeseen 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;
- using funding provided specifically for study related costs to cover non-study related expenditure.
This is not an exhaustive list and other circumstances may not be considered unforeseen and/or exceptional.
Please note that medical students intercalating at postgraduate level will be assessed as postgraduates during the intercalating year.
More information on funding for postgraduate students can be found at:
Full-time undergraduates with previous study
If you receive a reduced support package because you previously studied at a higher education level, then an assessment of your income and expenditure will determine whether or not you have made financial provision for living costs and tuition fees before you can be considered for an award, regardless of your current circumstances. If your provision is assessed as inadequate, your application will be unsuccessful. If you are assessed as having made such provision, you will then need to evidence an unforeseen change to your finances to be considered for an award.
Suspended, temporary leave and external students
If you are suspended from your course, taking temporary leave or repeating as an external student, you may still apply to the LHF. You are expected to have applied for any other available funding, eg benefits.
We will apply a minimum notional income to your assessment. This notional income represents the amount of money you are expected to provide via earnings, savings, benefits, family contributions or any other source. If you are unable to work due to illness, or if you have dependants, no notional income will be applied, however the LHF cannot normally be your only, or main, source of funding.
Any award will be based on your financial need above the notional income only.
Decisions and appeals
We guarantee a decision will be made within four working weeks of the date you submit your complete application. However, Funding team staff should be able to give you a more realistic estimate of how long the application process will take when you hand in your application form.
It is possible that when we assess your application, we may need further information and evidence. If this is the case, we will contact you at your University email address, so check your email to ensure your assessment is not delayed.
You can appeal your decision by outlining the reason in writing by email to the Leeds Hardship Fund Appeals Panel c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
Appeals must be submitted within one calendar month of the date of your decision letter or before the date you cease being a student (e.g. permanently withdraw, excluded), if this occurs within the one calendar month period.
You can find the LHF regulations here:
LHF applicants are invited to complete a survey which is used to gather feedback. This feedback is used to positively influence LHF policies and procedures so that the user experience can be improved.
You said: “There is little information about the criteria for awards or for essential car users”. There is now more detailed information on the LHF webpage covering travel and car use.
You said: “I wasn’t told how my award was calculated”. An information sheet is now provided with every decision.
You said: “I was confused about what evidence I needed to include”. An evidence checklist was added to the front of the application form, providing clearer information on the evidence required.