Go Higher: Hardship funds can provide some help

For students who are really strapped for cash there are ways of obtaining extra funding: Access funds
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Indy Lifestyle Online
IF YOU DO get into money problems while at university or college and you exhaust all the normal avenue of loans and parents then access funds could help you out.

Nearly all universities and colleges have access or "hardship" funds aimed at helping out those students who are in dire financial need.

But be warned, the competition for cash is stiff and only those students with a real financial hardship will be successful. Those who want a bit extra for a Saturday night on the town need not apply.

The money in Access Funds comes from the Government and the way it is handed out has to conform to strict rules.

Applicants have to fill in an application form, and along with that they need to include a detailed budget of income and expenditure. This has to be backed up with bank statements, bills, tenancy agreements and any other proof of finances.

Students then have to explain on their form why they are in need of special financial help and have their application backed up by either a tutor or a senior member of the student union.

Successful applicants will normally receive a grant (non-repayable lump sum) of between pounds 100-pounds 600. It is worth applying if you are short of money but you will have to back up your application with an explanation of why either your income is lower than average or your expenditure higher.

Most Student Advice Centres will give you help filling in the forms and all information is treated in the strictest confidence. But universities and colleges do reserve the right to run spot-checks on applicants and will prosecute any fraudulent claimants.

If you are successful you will normally be notified within six weeks of your application and the money will be paid directly into your bank. However, universities and colleges do on occasion make either cash payments to the applicant or pay the money to a third party on your behalf.

Geoff Orton, Advice Services Manager at the University of Kent's Student Union, says: "If students are eligible for student loans they have to apply for that loan first.

"One of the major costs for students here is childcare for single parents. A lot of mature students will also travel in to university from home and that can add to their costs.

"It is not unusual for a mature student with children to spend pounds 75-a- week on travel and childcare."

Some charitable trusts also make grants to students. The best place to look is the "Educational Grants Directory Guide to Major Trusts" which most university welfare officers should have.

This gives a list of about 3,800 trusts which give grants to students, how to apply and who is eligible.

Rather than spend hours trawling through the book a number of computer programmes have been designed to simplify the process, so students type in their details and the software selects the trusts which are applicable to them.