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Financial Assistance Fund

Financial Assistance Fund

What is the Financial Assistance Fund (FAF)?

FAF is the main QMUL hardship fund which students in financial hardship can apply to. 

Can FAF help pay my tuition fees?

No. Unfortunately, the fund cannot help pay tuition fees. However, if you are having difficulty paying your tuition fees, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service, for advice about your options. 

I am eligible for a Student Finance Maintenance Loan but have only taken the non-income assessed portion of this. Can I still apply to FAF? 

You must have taken your maximum Student Finance Maintenance Loan (if you are eligible for one) in order to apply to FAF.

I am an EU national only getting an EU tuition fee loan. Can I still apply to FAF? 

If you are only eligible for an EU tuition fee loan, you can still apply for help from FAF towards your living costs. EU students are expected to have made provision to have access to the equivalent of the maximum amount of the Student Finance Maintenance Loan - this amount varies according to when you started your course and whether you are final year or not. For 2016 onwards starters, the 2018/19 rate is £11,354 over a 39 week period (around £291 per week). If you cannot show this level of funding, but your essential living costs such as rent, travel and food are less than this, then you can still apply to the FAF if you can show that you have an income equivalent to at least 75% of your outgoings. If you need advice about applying, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service. 

What financial help can I get from FAF?

You can apply for a ‘standard award’ which is help towards the difference between your income and basic expenses. You can also apply for a ‘non-standard award’ for help with a sudden financial emergency or special circumstances or costs that other students might not have, which are causing you financial difficulties. 

Do I need to make separate applications for a standard and a non-standard award? 

No. Whether you are applying for a standard award, or a non-standard award, or both at the same time, there is just one single application form - but see below for advice about deadlines. 

When can I apply to FAF? 

You can apply in each year of your programme, and as early in the academic year as you like, once you have fully enrolled. It might be advisable to apply early as the fund is limited and might run out towards the end of the year.

You can apply more than once each year if your circumstances have changed during that year. The way that applications are assessed is more generous for final year students, so even if you applied in earlier years and didn’t get an award, it can still be worth applying in your final year.

There are two deadlines for applying – usually early April for a standard award and early July for a non-standard award. The deadlines are stated in the guidance notes which you can download with the application form. If you can, try and apply before the April deadline so that you can be assessed for both a standard and a non-standard award. 

Does the fund prioritise particular groups of students? 

Priority is usually given to certain students:

  • Students with children, especially, lone parents
  • Mature students, especially those with existing financial commitments
  • Students from low income families
  • Disabled students
  • Students who have entered higher education from care
  • Students who are homeless
  • Final year students

The fund will also consider applications from students with particular circumstances, for example, students who have unexpectedly become ill and are no longer able to work part time.

However, all students who have taken their maximum Student Finance Maintenance Loan (if they are eligible for this) and who are in financial hardship can be considered for financial assistance. So you should consider applying, even if you are not in one of these priority groups or have special circumstances. Many students who are not in these priority groups get awards each year. 

Where can I get a FAF application form?

You can download an application form and guidance notes here. Contact the Student Enquiry Centre, ground floor, Queens Building for advice if you have any issues accessing the form .

How do I fill out the FAF form? 

You need to fill out all sections of the form including the income and expenditure sections.

If you have exceptional or unforeseen circumstances which you believe have caused your financial hardship, you may be eligible for a non-standard award. You should explain your exceptional circumstances and why you need additional financial support in the Personal Statement in section 10 of the application form. It can be helpful to use bullet points to list your reasons for applying as this makes it easier for Bursaries Office staff to read. It is also useful for you to give an indication of exactly how much your financial shortfall (the difference between your income and expenses) is and, if appropriate, what period of time you need financial assistance for. You might find it helpful to use the spreadsheet or app we mention earlier in this guide to help you complete the income and expenditure section of the FAF form. The example spreadsheet lists many different items of income and expenditure but you will not have all of these so only include your actual income and costs.

You also don't need to attach your spreadsheet to your FAF application as the FAF assessment process does not take every single cost into account, so any award from FAF may not reflect the shortfall you have identified in your spreadsheet. The purpose of completing a spreadsheet is more to help you identify exactly what your total income and expenditure is over the year and, where you calculate you will have a cashflow or shortfall issue, you can consider your options, one of which may be applying to FAF.  If you are just applying for a standard FAF award, you don’t need to complete the personal statement section.

Whether or not your bank offers you an interest free overdraft (see next section), you would normally be expected to have applied for one before any application you make to FAF would be considered. If you are refused an interest free overdraft, ask your bank for a letter confirming this and submit it with your FAF application. You can still be considered for a non-standard award if you cannot get an overdraft facility. However, if you choose not to take an interest free overdraft which is available to you, a notional amount will normally be added to your income in the assessment of your FAF application.

If you need advice about completing your application, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service who can help you to fill out the form and explain your circumstances and the financial help you need. 

What evidence do I need to provide with my FAF application?

The back of the application form lists the documentation you need to provide with your application. This is generally copies (not originals) of evidence of all your income from Student Finance or the NHS, your partner’s income, your earnings from part time work, any welfare benefits you receive for yourself, your partner and/or your children, your children’s birth certificates, your rent costs, a letter from your bank refusing you an interest free overdraft (if applicable) and 3 months’ bank statements for all your accounts including credit card statements.

It is also usually helpful to include evidence of any unexpected costs and, if you have a health condition, any relevant medical evidence eg. a fit note from your GP confirming you are not well enough to work or evidence of health-related expenses you need to pay. If you need help to pay a one-off cost such as an essential item of equipment, it would be useful to submit quotes showing the average cost of the item. 

How long will it take for my FAF application to be assessed?

To avoid delays in processing your application, try and submit all the evidence with your original application as it can take up to four weeks to finalise assessments. If there are documents missing from your application, the Bursaries Office will usually contact you to tell you what you need to provide. If you need money more urgently, see the next section for advice about your options.


Disclaimer:
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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