Keele Hardship Fund

We know that sometimes situations can arise which are beyond your control, and these can cause a range of financial difficulties. Our Hardship Fund is a discretionary fund intended to support students who are struggling with unforeseen financial hardship during their course. Each application to the fund is assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account students' individual circumstances wherever possible.

Applications for the 2023/24 Hardship Fund will be open between 25th September 2023 - 28th June 2024.

We would recommend that you speak with the Financial Support Team prior to submitting an application for the Hardship Fund to understand if this is the right support for you.

It can take some time for a Hardship Fund application to be fully processed, so if you are in urgent need of financial support (for example, if you are struggling to purchase food and essentials in the short term) please email us at so that we can discuss alternative financial support.

If you're not facing severe financial hardship but would like to explore alternative support funds to help you to make the most of your university experience, you may want to take a look at our Access & Success Fund.

Please ensure to read through the guidance below prior to submitting your Hardship Fund application.

Any Keele University student (undergraduate or postgraduate, home or international, full-time or part-time, including apprentice learners) who is facing unforeseen severe financial hardship can apply to the Hardship Fund.

We would consider severe financial hardship to be where a student is struggling to afford essential costs such as accommodation, food and necessary travel, through circumstances beyond their control.

You must meet the following criteria to be considered for the Hardship Fund:

  • Be a current Keele student
  • Demonstrate an unforeseen shortfall between your income and reasonable expenditure which you are unable to resolve without financial support
  • Demonstrate that you have exhausted all other available financial assistance prior to application (for example, you must have applied for your full Student Finance entitlement if applicable and exhausted any savings available to you)

We will not be able to consider your application if you did not make reasonable provision to cover your living costs prior to the start of your course. Similarly, you will not be eligible for a grant if you have significant expenditure on non-essential purchases or services (such as holidays, leisure activities, premium clothing...), or if you have transferred large sums of money to family or friends.

Our Hardship Fund application system is managed within the Blackbullion platform. Once you’ve registered with Blackbullion, you will find the online application for the Hardship Fund in the ‘Funds’ tab.

The application form will ask you questions about your course and your individual circumstances, and you will also need to upload supporting evidence.

All students applying to the Hardship Fund must also complete the short 10 minute 'Make Budgeting Work For You' module in Blackbullion before we can assess your application.

All applicants will need to upload the following evidence to support their application:

  • Student Finance entitlement letter for the current academic year (downloadable from your Student Finance portal)
  • Tenancy agreement for the current academic year
  • Bank statements for the most recent 3 months for all bank accounts (annotated to tell us more about transactions over £100) for you and your partner (if applicable)

Blackbullion has introduced the option to use Open Banking, which means that it's much easier to provide your bank statements. By using Open Banking with Blackbullion, you will be able to automatically pull in bank statements required for your funding application, saving you the time of manually downloading, annotating and submitting bank statements from different bank accounts. This makes it fast and secure to provide statements for all of your bank accounts, and makes it easier to assess your application quickly.

If you're unable to provide one or more elements of the mandatory supporting evidence, you will be able to provide a reason for this within your application. For example, this could be because have chosen not to take out Student Finance for religious reasons. We may need to contact you to discuss this further.

We won't be able to process applications without the required supporting evidence. If any evidence is missing or unclear in your application, or if any additional evidence is needed, we will request this from you through Blackbullion.

If you need help with your application, please contact the Financial Support Team in the first instance so that we can support you with this.

If you're experiencing technical issues with the Blackbullion portal, you can contact them directly for support with this.

Once you have submitted your application, you will be able to track its progress within the Blackbullion platform (in the ‘Funds’ tab).

If any supporting evidence is missing or unclear in your application, we will request this evidence from you and you will receive an email notification of this, but this will also show on your application tracker. If you haven’t heard from us in a while, you may want to login to Blackbullion to check if we’ve requested additional supporting evidence from you.

If we don’t receive the requested supporting evidence within 2 weeks of our request, we will assume that you don't wish to proceed and close your application unless you have contacted us to let us know about any delay.

If at any point you wish to withdraw your application, you can do this in Blackbullion.

Once we’ve received all the required supporting evidence from you, we will then assess your application. We will look at your expected income across the academic year and what we consider to be reasonable expenditure on living costs (such as accommodation, travel and course-related costs), to determine whether you have a shortfall.

We assess each application on a case-by-case basis and will take into account your individual circumstances wherever possible.

We are not able to take tuition fees or pre-existing debt into account in your assessment as you should have made reasonable provision for this cost prior to starting the academic year.

You can find out more about how we assess your application in the Application Guidance which you can download when you start your application. We would encourage you to read through this before you continue with your application.

Due to the high volume of applications that we receive for the Hardship Fund, it can take up to 8 weeks for an application to be processed once we’ve received all the required supporting evidence. Any delays in providing your supporting evidence will result in a delay in your application being processed.

If you need urgent financial support, please contact the Financial Support Team to discuss this so that alternative support can be put into place for you while you wait for your application to be processed.

We will consider applications from all students on a case-by-case basis, and consideration for a Hardship Fund award will depend on a number of factors. The Hardship Fund has limited resources, and we use national guidance to ensure that we award funding fairly and proportionately to those students who need it most.

Therefore, we cannot guarantee whether your application will result in an award.

Successful applicants can be awarded up to £2,500 during the 2023/24 academic year. As the Hardship Fund has limited resources, it may not always be possible to cover your full additional financial need. Awards are based on your individual application assessment. In most cases, only students with child dependents will receive the highest awards.

If your application is successful, we will notify you of your award amount by email.

You will be asked to provide your bank details (account number and sort code) in your Hardship Fund application. It’s important that you check that these are correct as, if your application is successful, your award will usually be sent by bank transfer to the bank details you have provided.

Applications are assessed based on your income and expenditure across the full academic year. For this reason, we are unable to accept subsequent applications for the Hardship Fund in the same academic year unless there has been a significant change in your financial circumstances since your first application. You might want to explore the alternative financial support available.

You are welcome to re-apply the following year if you experience further unforeseen financial hardship, although please keep in mind that unforeseen difficulties in the previous year will no longer be considered unforeseen if you re-apply.

We work in a methodical and systematic way, based on national guidance, to ensure that we award funding fairly and proportionately to those who need it most.

In the first instance, if you would like an explanation about how your application has been assessed, please contact the Financial Support Team ( and we will be happy to discuss this with you.

After this, if you feel that we have not assessed your application fairly, you will be able to make a formal complaint by sending an email addressed to the Head of Student Participation and Success (Rebecca Lancett, who will aim to respond to you within 5 working days of your complaint. If you wish to make a formal complaint, you must do so within 4 weeks of receiving the outcome of your application.