Hardship fund: it sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it?
I mean, it has the word ‘hard’ in it, so it must be complicated - right?
No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, especially when you’re excited about starting university. Or even when you’re halfway through with deadlines flying all over the shop.
But hardship funds shouldn’t be seen as a monster in the closet. More like a safety net when things go pear-shaped.
Here are some basic things you should know about hardship funding.
What is a hardship fund?
If something unexpected happens, or if you’re in a specific situation which entitles you to some extra cash, like if you’re:
A student parent
A mature student with a mortgage
A disabled student
From a low-income household and your funding cannot cover your basic expenses,
you may be eligible for extra funding.
Hardship funding is for those in genuine need - it’s not to be used for spending on consumer goods or nights out.
Who is eligible for hardship funding? And how much help do you get?
This is where it depends on your circumstances.
Hardship funds are means-tested, which means they’re based on your income and expenditure. The conditions are determined by your university.
They can be either a one-off payment or might be paid in instalments. And, the good news is, they’re usually non-repayable, unlike other funds that students rely on.
Different universities also offer additional support if you meet certain criteria (e.g. you’re on a certain course or in a certain year). Make sure you check the university website or talk to someone at Student Services to see if you can get any of this additional funding.
How do you apply for a hardship fund?
To check your eligibility, speak to your Funding Office or Student Services at your university. They'll talk you through the process and show you how to apply. Or, if your university’s hardship fund is listed on the Blackbullion platform, check out the eligibility criteria there.
This will be easier if you've kept all your financial documents in one place (so guys, keep all those important letters in a file somewhere - it will make life so much easier in the future!).
Ensure you have a copy of your Student Finance letter as the university will need to see how much government funding you receive. You’ll need to provide bank statements to show that you’re in financial hardship.
They may also ask for rent details as this is often the greatest expenditure of any student, and is where most people struggle.
When things go wrong at university there's always someone you can turn to, so don’t be afraid to ask. Student Services are there to support you and can give you useful money-saving tips and get you back on track.
Financial education often can’t help when the problem is simply not having enough money. But please make use of the videos and articles in the Blackbullion platform to improve your financial wellbeing and give yourself the best chance of dealing with financial difficulties. The Top 10 money tips could be a good place to start.
To learn more about hardship funds, read the extended article on our platform.
By Claire Dewshi – Money Mentor at King’s College London.