It sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? I mean it has the word ‘hard’ in it, so it must be complicated right? Wrong.

No one wants to think about the worst case scenario, especially when you are excited about starting university, or even when you are halfway through with deadlines flying around the place like aeroplanes. But the Hardship Fund shouldn’t be seen as a monster in the closet, more as a safety net when things go pear-shaped.

Here are some basic things you should know about the fund:

What is the Hardship Fund?

Simply, you may be eligible for extra funding. However, this is not when you are in tears because you can’t buy the new pair of Nike trainers when every other person in the lecture theatre can. It is when something unexpected happens, or if you are in a specific situation which entitles you to some extra cash (like a student parent, a mature student with a mortgage, a disabled student or you are from a low-income household and your funding cannot cover your basic expenses).

How much help can I get?

This is where it depends on your circumstances. It is means-tested (based on your income and expenditure) and determined by your university. It can be either a one-off payment or paid in instalments. And, the good news is, it is usually non-repayable, unlike other funds that students rely on.

Different universities also offer additional support if you meet certain criteria (e.g. 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 I apply?

To check your eligibility speak to your Funding Office or Student Services at your university. They will talk you through the process and show you how to apply.

This will be easier if you have 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 need to provide your bank statements to prove you are in financial hardship and that you haven’t squandered your money on expensive accessories and bottles of wine but even if that is the case don’t be afraid to seek help.

They may also ask for rent details as this is often the greatest expenditure of any student, and is where most people struggle.

Basically, do not worry. When things go wrong at university there is 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.

If you want any more help about how to be savvy with money at university, sign up to Blackbullions’ money Bootcamp.

By Claire Dewshi – Money Mentor at King’s College London.

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