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FAF Guidance Notes

Guidance notes for applications to the Financial Assistance Fund. Please read these notes before you complete the application form.

The UCL Financial Assistance Fund (FAF) consists of funds made available by UCL to support students who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulties, as well as funds generously provided by alumni, friends, donors and staff. The fund is intended to act as a safety net for those in need, and can help alleviate unexpected financial hardship – although we are unlikely to be able to provide all the funds you may need, we aim to help eligible students as much as possible within available resources.

You can apply to the FAF by submitting the UCL Financial Assistance Fund application form and providing the requisite documentary evidence. Applications from undergraduate students who may be considering leaving higher education, due to financial difficulties are particularly encouraged.

All students must be able to demonstrate that they have made reasonable and realistic provision at the start of their programme of study to fund both their tuition fees and living costs - whether via partial sponsorship, self-funding, or a combination of both – and that this has materially changed. All students who are eligible to apply for student financial support (e.g. Student Finance England loans, US Direct loans) from their home Government must do so before applying to the FAF.

Applicants that have outstanding tuition fee debt to the university are not eligible to apply for the fund.

Completing the application form

Document checklist

Please indicate which items you have submitted with your application form. If any evidence is missing or cannot be opened/viewed properly, your application cannot be accepted, as an assessment cannot be made.

Bank statements: You must supply copies of itemised bank statements covering the last three months, with the most recent being no more than two weeks old from the date you submit your application.

You must do this for all accounts held (e.g. Current Account, Savings Account, Credit Card account, NISA).

These statements must show your name, bank account details and an itemised list of transactions. Please annotate to explain any debits or credits over £100.

We can accept official bank statements, screenshots of statements or online banking printouts. Statements printed on an Excel spreadsheet are not accepted.

Please note we reserve the right to request a current ATM mini statement / balance.

Additional documents

  • Evidence of income: You must provide evidence of how you were intending to fund your programme of study/research e.g. Student Finance England award notification, scholarship/studentship/grant award letter, statement showing income from investments/savings, salary slips/statements dated within last 3 months. If you are in receipt of any benefits or tax credits evidence must also be provided
  • Evidence of costs: You must provide evidence showing your:
    • Rent/mortgage costs for the entire academic year – if you have resided in more than one location, please provide evidence of all tenancies. (Where you do not have a tenancy agreement you can provide a signed letter from your landlord/person who you pay rent to e.g. family member).
    • Unexpected costs/loss if income – evidence and must be provided for all costs/loss of income you would like us to consider, for example, if you are applying on the basis of loss of employment, please provide the following: evidence of loss of employment (e.g. P45), evidence you do not qualify for any compensation schemes (e.g. letter from employer);
  • Additional evidence (where relevant): 
    • If a parent/carer, copies of each child’s birth certificate;

If you have a disability, supporting evidence may be require if this is not already registered with UCL.

Section A: About You

Personal Details: The UCL student number is found on your UCL Student ID card

Term Time Address: All communications from our office will be to your UCL email account. However, it is useful for us to know where you live as this may need to be factored into our assessment process.

Programme Details: It is important that we know as much as possible about your degree programme in order to assess you correctly

Bank Accounts: We assume all UK (Home) students have access to an overdraft facility, which we will treat as part of the assumed income. If, however, you do not have such a facility, please explain why as this may affect the way we assess your application.

Tuition Fees: Please let us know how you are paying your Tuition Fees. Students who are not up to date with tuition fee payments will not be assessed for the Financial Assistance Fund.

Section B: Your Circumstances

Your Dependants: Complete this section if relevant. Provide details of any children and/or adults who are financially dependent on you.

Disability: Testing for Specific Learning Difficulties can be accessed through UCL’s Student Disability Service. If you wish only to apply for assistance towards the cost of a diagnostic test, please contact the UCL Student Disability Service through AskUCL or, phone them on Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 0100. They will be able to provide a shorter dyslexia diagnostic-only application. UCL-FAF does not cover the cost of Dyslexia Diagnostic Testing. Please provide details of any disabilities or Specific Learning Difficulties here.

Homeless, Care or Foyer Applicants: Undergraduate students from these categories will considered for priority assistance.

The Income/Expenditure Table 

This table MUST be completed in your application form.  Please take time and care to complete this as any mistakes or guesswork may lead to your application being incorrectly assessed or, it may cause a delay in the processing of your application while we contact you for the correct information.

You must enter certain items as annual figures (e.g. Student Loan), but for other items, e.g., your partner’s contribution, you can choose to enter a weekly figure.   Please only enter one figure per row.

You can enter your ‘Expenditure’ details as monthly or weekly figures.  Please only enter one figure per row.

  • We have separate boxes for income intended for tuition fees and living expenses. If you have savings for the full year, please separate what you intend to use for these two purposes, as this will help us assess your application quickly. This applies to scholarships and bank loans as well.
  • SLC Maintenance Loan: Please enter the full amount of loan, which you are eligible to receive. If eligible, you must have applied for your full-assessed loan entitlement before you can expect consideration of assistance from the the-FAF. If you are and undergraduate student and your parents have refused to complete a financial assessment form, leaving you only able to take out the non means-tested element of the loan - this does not mean you are ineligible for an award, but further information will be required outlining the circumstances, within your supporting statement. Please include a copy of your SLC loan confirmation breakdown letter.
  • Scholarship / Studentship / Grant: Please note there are two separate boxes for tuition fee funds and living expenses funds. If you receive any of the following, please include here:
    • Any Scholarship that goes towards your studies.Welsh Assembly Learning Grant
    • Young Persons Bursary from Scotland
    • Mature Student Bursary from Scotland
    • Students Outside Scotland Bursary
    • Special Support Grant
  • If your scholarship is intended for both tuition fees and living expenses, please separate these amounts according to your plan for the year, and use the different boxes.
  • Postgraduate Loan (AMOUNT FOR MAINTENANCE ONLY): Please enter the amount of the loan that you are using for maintenance only and include a copy of your PGL confirmation letter showing the full loan amount.
  • Savings (both for tuition and living expenses): Figures for savings must be the amount held at the start of the academic session – not any balance available at the time of application.
  • Bank Loan (amount for maintenance only): Please state the type of loan and indicate the amount borrowed.
    • Please use the separate box for loans borrowed for tuition fees.
  • Parental / Family contribution including loans: Please indicate any contributions from your parents or family towards your studies, including any loans. Please keep parental contribution for tuition fees separate from parental contribution for living expenses. There are two separate boxes.
  • Other Income: Enter any other additional income such as rental income, dividends, stocks, shares etc.
  • Council Tax: Most students are exempt from paying Council Tax; however, if you provide a contribution towards it, please indicate the amount you personally pay and not the total amount.
  •  Travel Costs: In addition to weekly travel costs from your term-time address to UCL, please state total travel costs incurred for additional trips home due to family illness or bereavement (evidence will be required).
  • Private Vehicle: Please note that car-running costs are not normally be considered for single applicants. However, for applicants who have children, or a mobility issue / disability, the cost of running a car may be included - although the full cost of this expense is unlikely to be covered.

Section C: Supporting Statements

This section consists of five parts; you will need to explain your circumstances in each part. All sections are to be completed.

You are advised to succinctly explain your reason(s) for applying. This should also explain any additional expenditure you feel is extending your financial difficulties.

Undergraduate applicants to the Fund whose expected household contribution is not being met, due a relationship breakdown with their parents / family need to outline the circumstances surrounding this and why the contribution is not being made.

We will not include the Student Finance England (SFE) assessed contribution within our assessment, where a student has demonstrated a clear relationship breakdown. However, where there is insufficient evidence to establish an estrangement or, the breakdown has been for less than 12 months, the Student Funding Manager will make a discretionary assessment from the available evidence.

Please note the FAF cannot be used for subsidising the household contributions as calculated by Student Finance England (SFE) for cases other than genuine relationship breakdown. Students who find themselves in financial hardship because their parents are no longer able to meet the cost of the household contribution due to a drop in income (of 15% or more) should contact Student Finance England for a Reassessment, using the Current Year Income Form available from Student Finance England.

Application Assessment

We treat applications as ‘standard’ or ‘non-standard’ claims.

The assessment of Standard claims are under an ‘additional need’ methodology, which looks at the difference between accepted reasonable expenditure and expected income.

If you have experienced unexpected circumstances, your application could be considered under a ‘non-standard’ assessment process.

Both assessment types are undertaken using the same application form.

Standard Awards

These aim to assist in contributing to the general costs associated with being a student, such as rent, travel, food, books, field trips and childcare.

The level of assistance provided links to the assessment of need, by calculating annual income against annual expenditure using a combination of evidenced costs and notional costs.

It is expected that applicants apply for all statutory support to which they are entitled (including tax credits and benefits, where appropriate) before being eligible for consideration under this methodology.

For full-time undergraduates assessed for a standard award, the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA) has suggested an ‘Assumed Income.’ The assumed income for the 2021-22 academic year (income you are expected to have):

Non-final year students: £2,804 per year
Final year students: £935 per year

These figures assume income from a variety of sources including:

  • Part-time work;
  • Bank overdraft facilities;
  • Additional support from parents, family or partners;

A weekly Minimum Required Provision (MRP) will be applied to full-time postgraduate and teacher training students to guide standard assessments. NASMA have suggested the following figures for 2021-22:

Postgraduate students: £266.00 per week

Postgraduates with children, or who are unable to work: £213.00 per week

Actual net income will be used in the assessment of part-time students, including earnings, grants, savings, tax credits and benefits etc.

Non-standard awards

These aim to assist with meeting Exceptional Costs, such as repairs to essential household equipment, emergency situations (including travel costs for family illness or bereavement), any resulting hardship due to theft or fire, Priority Debts and expenditure not met fully through statutory grants (e.g. students with disabilities).

Evidence of these costs in the form of receipts or statements is required and would also include a copy of a Death Certificate, if for example, an applicant were seeking specific financial assistance as a result of a bereavement.

Students embarking on, or who are currently on their study abroad year are eligible to apply for financial assistance from FAF. We may be able to consider flight and/or start-up costs.

Part-time students

For part-time postgraduate students who have not made realistic provision at the start of their programme to fund both tuition fees and living costs, an award from the FAF is not appropriate.

Composite Living Costs

There are predetermined expenditure levels, known as Composite Living Costs, for all students.

These are based on state benefit amounts for general living costs, such as food and usual household costs, such as utility bills.

The actual amount applied will depend upon your circumstances.

For 2021-22 Living-in-London rates, see below:

Single Student: £133.00 per week
Student living with spouse/partner: £181.00 per week

Single parent with 2 children under 16: £371.00 per week

Student with partner and 2 children under 16: £419.00 per week

Students with children, each additional child will see £103.00 per week added to the student rate.

Decisions

Once your application and all evidence has been received, we will send an email informing you that a decision will be made within four working weeks.

If more evidence is required, the four week waiting period will reset, so please do make sure you have submitted all required supporting evidence.

If we require more evidence, and email you with that request, you are asked to respond within one week. If we do not hear back from you within two weeks of the request, we will have to close your application.

Please be aware that should we receive your application without the following core pieces of supporting evidence, the decision turnaround time of four working weeks will not begin until you submit these documents:

  • 3 most recent months of bank statements for all your accounts
  • Proof of how you have planned to fund your course (through Student finance or any other funding authority)
  • Proof of any rent/mortgage you are paying 

You will be informed of the outcome of your application by email (to your UCL email account). If successful, you should normally expect to receive payment within 10 days of the notification of your award.

Reapplying/Appealing

You may only apply more than once during an academic year, if your circumstances have changed materially or significantly from the time of your original application. You must also not have already received the maximum award amount  as the cap applies to the full academic year. You will need to provide all relevant evidence to demonstrate this change in your circumstances. All decisions are final and appeals cannot be considered.