Financial advice and FAQs

Advice and support

Our Student Financial Support team offer confidential advice and guidance about a variety of financial issues.

We can help you with a wide range of queries including:

  • UK Government funding
  • Alternative funding sources
  • Bursaries and scholarships
  • Budgeting
  • Financial support for students facing financial hardship
  • International student funding (including US federal loans and Canadian loans)

We aim to advise all students to ensure they are getting their full entitlement with regards to Government funding, including additional support depending on your individual circumstances.

We unfortunately cannot provide advice on debt or benefits, but you can seek advice from Advice & Support at KeeleSU (ASK) or contact Citizens’ Advice. If you have significant debt problems, such as affecting your ability to remain in your home, you may be able to apply to our Hardship Fund, but you should also access support from a qualified debt advisor.

We advise that you contact us by email initially, as this will ensure that we can respond to your query as soon as possible. We can normally answer your query within 1 working day, but sometimes we may need to investigate your query further. If we feel it would be better to discuss your query over a virtual or in-person appointment, we will contact you to arrange an appointment.

Email the Student Financial Support team

If your query or issue is quite complex, and you would prefer to speak to us rather than email, then you can also book a 20-minute appointment with us. We would ask that, wherever possible, you only book an appointment if your circumstances are complex as this ensures that appointments are available for those who need them most.

Book a virtual appointment with the Student Financial Support team

If you need help with setting and managing your budget, you can contact us to request a Financial Wellbeing Check. See below for more information about this.

If you need help with setting and managing your budget, you can contact us to request a Financial Wellbeing Check. In a Financial Wellbeing Check, we will discuss your individual circumstances to ensure that you're accessing all of the funding available to you, and discuss any financial support that we feel you may benefit from, such as our Hardship Fund. We will also help you to explore your spending habits to ensure that you're getting the most out of your money.

We will ask you to send us your last month's bank statement prior to your Financial Wellbeing Check. This is so that we're able to review your financial stability to tailor the advice and support that we provide. 

Email the Student Financial Support team to request a Financial Wellbeing Check

Advice & Support at KeeleSU (ASK): For financial advice from your Student's Union.

UK Government: For information about UK Government funding for Higher Education, including additional support depending on your individual circumstances. You will also be able to find information about repayments.

NHS Business Services Authority: For information relating to the NHS Learning Support Fund and Exceptional Support Fund.

UCAS Understanding Apprenticeships: For information on higher and degree apprenticeships. Apprentices may also find the UK Government Universal Credit eligibility webpages useful.

The British Council Scholarships and Funding: For information about funding for international students.

Student Money FAQs

Full-time students should be exempt from council tax.

If everyone in your household is a full-time student, you can apply for an exemption from council tax. If you live with someone who is not a full-time student, you will still get a council tax bill but you may be able to apply for a discount.

You can find out more about this on the UK Government webpages.

As a student, you may be able to apply for help towards healthcare costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme. This could provide support towards the cost of NHS prescriptions, NHS dental treatment, the cost of sight tests and glasses / contact lenses and the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment. You can apply for the NHS Low Income Scheme online on the NHS website or complete a paper HC1 form (which you can order online).

Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to free NHS prescriptions. You can check online to find out who can get free prescriptions.

If you're not entitled to free NHS prescriptions and need to pay for multiple prescriptions, it might be cheaper to purchase an NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate. This would cover the cost of all your NHS prescriptions during the time that the certificate is valid. You can purchase a Prescription Prepayment Certificate online on the NHS website.

If you're experiencing unforeseen healthcare costs which are causing you to struggle financially, you may wish to consider applying to our Hardship Fund.

You may be entitled to Universal Credit while you are studying but please be aware that your student income, such as a Student Finance maintenance loan, can impact how much Universal Credit you can receive. You can find out more about applying for Universal Credit as a student on the UK Government website.

If you need further support in accessing Universal Credit, or have been contacted about an overpayment of Universal Credit, please contact Advice & Support at KeeleSU (ASK) or Citizen's Advice.

If you have significant caring responsibilities (for example, for a relative with a disability), you may be able to claim Carer's Allowance. As part of the eligibility criteria for Carer's Allowance, you must not be in full-time education. Therefore if you are studying a full-time course, you would not be eligible for Carer's Allowance. You can find more information about the eligibility criteria for Carer's Allowance on the UK Government website.

If you are already receiving Carer's Allowance and will be starting a full-time course, you must report this change of circumstance to the Carer's Allowance Unit. If you don't do this, and continue to receive Carer's Allowance, you may be contacted and told to repay any overpaid Carer's Allowance.

Student Finance England FAQs

Applications for Student Finance usually open in the February prior to the start of the academic year for undergraduate students (or Summer for postgraduate students). We would advise that you start your application as soon as possible to ensure that funding is in place for the start of your course. You don't need to have a confirmed place at university in order to apply - you can update the course and university linked to your application any time before the start of your course.

The initial application will take around 30 minutes, and you will then be able to track your application status and 'to-do list' in your Student Finance portal. Student Finance England have produced a useful short 'how-to' video guide which explains the process.

You may be asked to provide further information or evidence to support your application. Please make sure to send your evidence as soon as possible as any delays in sending your evidence could delay your application.

It can take up to 6 weeks for your application to be processed by Student Finance.

Undergraduate students will need to re-apply to Student Finance for each year of the course.

The Student Finance maintenance loan entitlement is means-tested on your household income. The lower your household income, the more maintenance loan you will be entitled to. Once your application to Student Finance has been fully processed, you will receive a letter which will outline how much maintenance loan you will be entitled to.

If you would like to find out an estimate of how much you could receive before the applications open, you can use the online Student Finance Calculator.

It's important to keep in mind that the maintenance loan is intended to be a contribution towards your living costs and might not cover everything.

If your maintenance loan entitlement is lower than you expected, you may want to check that your household income has been taken into account. When you apply for Student Finance, you are asked if you would like to apply for the basic maintenance entitlement, and then asked if you would like to provide your household income details in order to be assessed for the higher level of maintenance entitlement (the means-tested element). If your household income hasn't been considered, you can contact Student Finance to ask to be re-assessed on your household income.

It's important to keep in mind that the maintenance loan is intended to be a contribution towards your living costs and might not cover everything. If you expect that your living costs will be higher than your maintenance loan entitlement, you will need to consider alternative income sources or reducing your costs.

There are a number of opportunities for work within the University such as working for the Student Union, working as a Student Ambassador, or working in one of our food outlets.​ ​If you're a current Keele University student, you will be able to login to the Keele Careers Online Hub to find other opportunities for casual or part-time work. We would encourage all of our students to consider a casual or part-time job as this will not only help you to become more financially stable, but will also help to develop your employability skills. 

In addition to looking for part-time work, you may also want to consider speaking with family to see whether they would be able to help to support you financially while you study.

There are a number of reasons why some students might experience a delay in receiving their Student Finance funding at the start of the academic year. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • A late application for Student Finance (it can take up to 6 weeks for applications to be processed)
  • Not providing any additional evidence requested by Student Finance
  • Not providing your National Insurance Number
  • Not completing your online Declaration or signing and returning your paper Declaration
  • Not completing your official enrolment and registration process at the university

We would encourage all students to try to have some small savings in place for the start of the academic year, to support yourself financially in case of any short delays.

If you're experiencing a unexpected delay in receiving your funding, there are various things you can do:

  • Log into your Student Finance portal to check your application status and 'to-do list'
  • Contact Student Finance directly to ask for an update on your application
  • If your accommodation is on-campus, contact Student Services to ask for your accommodation fee deadline to be extended
  • If your accommodation is off-campus, contact your landlord to ask whether it will be possible to extend your rent deadline
  • Consider applying for an overdraft for your student bank account to allow you to borrow money from your bank until you receive your Student Finance
  • Contact the Student Financial Support team for further advice or to request an emergency loan

If your circumstances change, you should update your Student Finance application as soon as possible. You may need to update Student Finance if:

  • Your living circumstances change (for example, if you planned to live at home during term-time but later decide to live away from home)
  • There are changes to the people living in your household

You can make most changes by logging into your Student Finance portal, scrolling to the bottom of your homepage and selecting 'Change my application'.

If your household income has changed significantly since you applied for Student Finance, then you may be able to apply for a Current Year Income (CYI) Assessment. This involves providing a projected household income for the year and providing retrospective evidence at the end of the year.

There is more information about this and the CYI form on the Student Finance webpages.

Due to GDPR, although the University is able to see certain aspects of your application, Student Finance will not discuss your application or assessment details with us unless they have your explicit permission.

In most cases, students are able to resolve any issues they have with Student Finance directly. However, if you're experiencing complex, ongoing issues, we may ask you to set up a 'Consent to Share' with Student Finance so that we can speak to them about the issues you're experiencing and try to resolve them.

If you're experiencing ongoing issues with Student Finance, please contact the Student Financial Support team via Student Services so that we can help you.

If you are considering taking a leave of absence or withdrawing from your course, please contact our Student Experience and Support team. They will be able to help you to explore your options, and will discuss the financial and practical implications.

You can also find information about the financial implications for Student Finance tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and childcare grants on the UK Government webpages.

If you need to repeat a year or leave your undergraduate course due to exceptional personal circumstances beyond your control, you might be able to request an extra year of funding. This is sometimes called 'Compelling Personal Reasons' (CPR). Some examples of reasons for applying for an extra year of funding are:

  • mental health
  • illness
  • bereavement
  • pregnancy
  • a caring responsibility

To apply for an extra year of funding, you should send a letter to Student Finance explaining how your circumstances have impacted your ability to study. You should include:

  • Your details - your name, date of birth, Student Finance Customer Reference Number, course name, and the year in which the exceptional circumstances happened. For example, if you needed to take a leave of absence in March 2021 due to illness, then you would need to apply for Compelling Personal Reasons for the 2020/21 academic year.
  • Key date/s - for example, the date which you took leave of absence, or the date which you withdrew from your course.
  • An outline of your personal circumstances, how long this affected you for, and how this impacted your ability to study effectively. Please only include as much detail as you feel comfortable with.

Wherever possible, you should also provide evidence to support your request. Examples of evidence you could provide include:

  • Letter from a doctor, counsellor or healthcare professional
  • Letter from the University's Student Services team (if you discussed your circumstances with them at the time)
  • Photocopies of birth or death certificates

You should send your cover letter and evidence by special delivery to:

Student Finance England
PO Box 210
Darlington
DL1 9HJ

Find out more about requesting Compelling Personal Reasons.