Before you apply

Before you start your application for the Financial Assistance Fund, find out more about eligibility, how to evidence documents, when to apply, and how your application will be assessed.

Who can apply? 

All registered students and Post Graduate Researchers (PGRs) on a higher education course at the University of Leeds who have experienced unforeseen changes to their financial situation can apply to the Financial Assistance Fund. This includes students who are suspended or taking all/part of the year externally.

What do we mean by an ‘unforeseen change’?

An unforeseen change is something that happened unexpectedly – you couldn’t predict it would happen, like an accident, and it’s affecting your financial situation. Read our example scenario below.  

Sarah is undertaking a one-year Masters course. At the start of her course, she had funds in place to cover her tuition fees and living costs. Her main sources of funding were a Postgraduate Masters Loan and her part-time job. Part way through the year, Sarah had an accident and broke her leg. Instead of walking to the University and to work, which was her original plan, Sarah had to take taxis for two months while her leg healed. This incurred additional costs. This is an example of an acceptable unforeseen change in circumstance.

Eligibility criteria for the Financial Assistance Fund

There are eligibility criteria to meet as a student applying to the fund:

  • You must be registered on a higher education course at the University of Leeds.

  • Students who have suspended studies for all/part of the year or are taking all/part of the year externally can still apply.

  • Students who have stepped off the course and are ‘Not in Attendance’ (NA) cannot apply.

  • You must not be ‘Under Examination’ (PGR).

  • You must not be studying on a degree apprenticeship course. 

  • You must be able to show that you had funding in place and a sound financial plan to cover your living costs and tuition/examination fees at the start of your current academic year. 

  • You are expected to seek help from all other available funding routes before applying to the Financial Assistance Fund, including friends and family if applicable, and benefits if you are eligible. 

  • The fund is primarily to help you to continue with your studies. If you have dependants (spouse/child/children), normally evidence of their income and expenditure will need to be provided to carry out a full financial household assessment. 

  • You must have applied on time, and received the first instalment of any statutory funding that you are entitled to e.g. Student Loan or NHS bursary* 

*Note, if you applied by the published deadline, have completed online registration and have had your ID checked and the first instalment of your statutory funding has been delayed due to circumstances outside of your control please contact Student Funding. 

Additional eligibility criteria for international students 

As an international student applying to the fund, you must: 

  • Continue to meet all of your Student Visa requirements. 

  • Have a valid Tier 4 sponsorship or Student Visa. Students sponsored by the University of Leeds as Tier 4 students won’t be eligible for assistance from the fund if their Tier 4 Sponsorship is temporarily or permanently withdrawn.   

  • Have met the UK Student Visa Financial requirement. £1023 per month will be included as income within the FAF assessment. 

  • Be aware that because the Financial Assistance Fund is primarily for you, if dependants like a spouse or child/children have travelled with you, you must have met the financial visa requirement. £680 per month for each dependant will be included as standard income within the assessment. 

  • Be aware that if you hold a Tier 4 or Student Visa, applying for assistance from the fund will not affect your visa or be reported to the Home Office. If your visa has a 'no recourse to public funds' condition on it, applying for/receiving assistance from the fund is not a breach of this condition. 

  • Be aware that any student needing immigration permission to be in the UK will not be eligible to apply to the fund if that permission expires or is curtailed by the UK Home Office. 

  • If you have non-UK bank accounts, provide your bank account statements and also complete the Financial Information Form which will be sent to you with the application form. You will need to convert foreign currency amounts into UK sterling

 

What evidence do I need to include? 

When filling out your application form, you’ll need to provide evidence when you submit your application, including all types of income and expenditure.  

Income 

For international students, we’ll automatically include some income in your application:  

  • £1023 per month will be included as standard income because you will have met the UK Student Visa Financial requirement.

  • £680 per month for each dependant (e.g. spouse, child/children) will be included as standard income if dependants have travelled with you. This is because the Financial Assistance Fund is primarily for you. 

For all students, here is a list of your income that you’ll need to evidence when filling out your application form: 

  • Bank statements (your and your partner’s, if applicable) covering 90 days for all of your accounts, including savings accounts, locked savings accounts, ISAs, unused accounts, non-UK accounts 

  • Documentation for all money available in your bank and savings accounts* - income/savings/wages/benefits - including your three most recent payslips (and/or for your partner, if applicable). 

*Please note, the assessment must take account of all available funding, including money in locked savings account(s), even if this was intended for a specific purpose  

  • Documentation of any statutory funding, bursaries and scholarships you receive. For example, your Student Finance England notification letter and/or NHS bursary statement (Home/UK students only) 

  • If you are a postgraduate, an international student or an undergraduate with previous study, you will need to show that you had a sound financial plan in place to cover your tuition fee and living costs i. at the start of your study, if you are in the first year of study at Leeds or ii. at the start of the academic year if you are in year 2 onwards.

  • Any financial contributions from family, friends or other sources. For example, community trusts.

Expenditure 

For all students, we’ll automatically add some expenses to your application. This means you don’t have to worry about providing evidence for the following: 

  • Composite Living Cost: this is a set amount based on UK state benefit rates to cover general living costs including food, gas, electricity, water, contents insurance, clothes, TV licence, entertainment, and gym membership.  

  • A set amount for travel (based on the cost of a monthly off-peak Zone5 MCard).  

  • A set amount for course-related costs such as books, printing, study materials and field trips. 

For all students, here is a list of your expenditure that you’ll need to evidence in your application: 

  • Rental/Mortgage/Housing costs. This can be evidenced by your rental contract or mortgage statement (this evidence is not required if you are in University of Leeds accommodation). 

  • Childcare costs (if applicable). 

  • Costs associated with specific learning disability diagnostic tests (if applicable).  

  • Credit card or non-priority debt – so that we can include the minimum monthly repayment when assessing your application. You may be referred to LUU Help and Support if it is determined that you need help managing your debt. 

  • Any other expense that you consider essential, for example medical prescriptions, a mobile phone contract or broadband. 

There are some personal financial commitments that cannot not be included in the overall expenditure assessment. This includes car finance (buying a car) and subscriptions to Netflix, Spotify etc. 

The application form includes space for a free text Supporting Statement. You can use it to provide additional information, explain the circumstances that have changed and the impact it has had on you and your student funding. 

Need support finding the relevant evidence? 

The Student Funding team will contact you using your University email address if they need more information about your income and expenses. Check your email regularly to ensure your assessment isn’t delayed. 

Please contact the Student Funding team or LUU Help & Support if you have questions about the evidence required. 

When should I apply? 

You should apply as soon as you think you’ll face financial difficulties during your academic year. Don’t wait until you are in financial crisis. Evidence will still be needed to support this change in financial circumstance. 

You can apply at any point during your academic year if you are a registered student or PGR, including if you have suspended your studies or are repeating as an external. If you have completed your studies, including being under examination (UE), you no longer meet the Financial Assistance Fund eligibility criteria. 

It would normally be expected that you have received the first instalment of your statutory support, e.g. student loan or NHS bursary. If this is delayed for any reason, please contact the Student Funding team

Applications with all necessary evidence need to be submitted and accepted as complete before the last day of your personal academic year. 

Applying for a reassessment 

You generally shouldn’t need to submit a second application in any one study year because the original assessment will normally cover the period up to the end of your academic year. However, if there has been a significant change in your financial circumstances, you can ask for your application to be re-assessed.   

You can ask for a reassessment whether or not you initially received a financial award. If the reassessment shows that you have a financial need, you may receive a financial award. You can ask for a reassessment at any time before the last day of your academic year. Not all changes in circumstances will result in a change to the original assessment.  

Before requesting a reassessment please contact the Student Funding team to discuss your eligibility. 

Applying during the summer vacation period 

If your course has a summer vacation, you can apply for summer costs at any time during this period if you: 

  • Have dependent children (you should already have applied for all available benefits). 

  • Are unable to work or have limited availability to work due to illness. 

  • Are unable to work or have limited availability to work due to a disability (you should already have applied for all available benefits). 

  • Are a care leaver. 

  • Are estranged from both of your parents, or your guardian(s) and you have no support from your family, or, you have been granted independent status by the Student Loans Company due to estrangement. 

  • Have been a Foyer Scheme resident or participated in a similar scheme for homeless people. 

  • Have an unexpected financial emergency. 

  • Are unable to meet course-related costs that are essential to continue your studies. 

Information on funding during the resit period is available on the Examinations webpage

 

How will my application be assessed? 

No two applicants are the same. All applications to the Financial Assistance Fund will be assessed individually by an experienced member of the Student Funding Team. Assessments are completed fairly, consistently and without judgement following the criteria of the scheme.   

This means that not everyone who is assessed for help will receive financial support. The possible assessment outcomes are:

  • A financial award 

  • A financial award and referral to a specialist service e.g. Counselling and Wellbeing 

  • No financial award 

  • No financial award and referral to a specialist service 

(A financial award means money that is given to you from the Fund) 

The first stage of the application process is to check your current financial situation. If you need immediate financial help, where it’s appropriate, you’ll receive a low-value ‘emergency’ award covering a two-week period to help you buy essential items such as food and toiletries. Afterwards, a full financial assessment will be undertaken. 

Where information is disclosed raising concern of harm to self or others this information will be shared with the appropriate specialist teams within the University.

Assessment of Home/UK First degree Undergraduates Applicants 

This category applies if you are a UK undergraduate student taking your first degree at Leeds. In this case, the Financial Assistance Fund assessment will include your calculated income over the full academic year and compare it against the total of your calculated expenditure. If you live with a partner/spouse, your joint income and expenditure will normally be assessed. 

Providing you meet the general conditions of the Financial Assistance Fund, an award may be paid to you to cover the assessed shortfall if your expenses are higher than your income, and you’re unable to cover your living costs. 

If your expenses are lower than your income and you're able to cover your living costs, you are unlikely to receive an award from the Financial Assistance Fund.  

Assessment of Research Postgraduate, Taught Postgraduate, International and Non-SLC Funded Undergraduate Students*  

*not eligible for Student Loans because of previous Higher Education study. 

If you are a Research Postgraduate, a Taught Postgraduate, an International student, or an Undergraduate student who isn’t eligible for or has chosen not to take out a Student Loan, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the following requirements to be assessed for an award:

  1. You had a sound financial plan in place at the start of the academic year to cover both your tuition/examination fee and living costs;

  2. If you are an international student, we will assume as a minimum that you have the monthly income figure required to obtain a UK Student Visa for yourself and any dependants. Although, for the Visa, you need to demonstrate the monthly income for 9 months, if your academic year is 12 months, we apply the monthly income figure for 12 months in calculating your income. If your monthly expenditure exceeds the UK Student Visa monthly income figure, you are expected to fund this shortfall yourself, for example, through paid work; and, 

  3. Since the start of the academic year there has been an unexpected change in your financial situation that could not have been reasonably foreseen.  

If the assessor determines that a sound financial plan was in place (i.e. you were able to cover the costs of living expenses and tuition) and an unforeseen change has occurred that affected your finances, then they will assess your current financial situation to determine if an award can be made.