Financial crisis at university
Can't afford your rent? Student loan not come through on time? Here's what to do.
Cash flow is a major headache for students, especially if your student loan or grant hasn't turned up. Read on for practical advice about what to do when your bank account suddenly looks empty.
What should I do if my maintenance loan or tuition fee loan doesn't arrive on time?
The first step is to try and contact Student Finance England, Northern Ireland, Wales or The Student Awards Agency for Scotland. Make sure you have your CRN or ART ID numbers (your customer reference number and identity number) to hand, as you'll be asked to quote them in all correspondence, and ask the following questions:
- Has my assessment taken place and when will I receive my loan?
- Do you need any more information to complete my assessment?
- Can I fax the information to speed up the process? (Ask for a fax number and the name of the person to address it to.)
- If you've been caught up in a backlog at the start of term, ask when the problem is expected to be resolved.
- Make a note of the person you're speaking to, the date and time you called, and what was said. Repeat back to them your understanding of the issue and ask them to confirm to make sure you've understood what they're telling you.
If you're still worried about your application, speak to your university and alert your admissions tutor to the situation. Most importantly, you must still enrol for your course - even if your tuition fees haven't arrived.
Why have I received less money than expected?
According to Student Finance England, all new university entrants should receive their first instalment of the basic non means-tested part of the maintenance loan, which is approximately £1100. Those who are eligible for any extra income-assessed funding may receive this later.
What if I can't pay my rent?
Most universities and the companies that run student halls of residence will be flexible if your loan hasn't arrived - after all, as long as you applied on time, it's not your fault. However, you must let them know as soon as possible so that any pre-arranged direct debit payments are not taken from your account. The accommodation office at your university or management team of any privately run halls of residence should be able to set a new payment date with you.
There's no need to panic. It's worth asking for help, as 18-year-old Andrew discovered when he started his degree course in Business and Law at Leeds Met.
"The university's been really good and there's an access fund available for desperate students. They'll either lend you money, or you can come to an agreement about extra time to pay your rent. It's not all as bad as it seems."
Worried about food, rent or childcare costs?
Open a student bank account with an interest-free overdraft facility before you start uni. You can use this to tide you over until your loan turns up.
Contact your university's student advice centre and ask to discuss your options with a funding officer. They may be able to arrange a short-term loan in very extreme circumstances. Some universities will also supply you with a letter for your landlord/lady explaining the situation.
Learning how to budget instead of blowing your loan in the first week is also essential. "In freshers' week, your spending goes crazy," says Andrew. "Get to know your area to stop yourself getting ripped off by taxi drivers. Find out which taxi firms give discounts. Set a budget for food - mine's £20 - and make sure you shop in places like Morrisons."
Finally, if you need to get a job then do it as soon as you can, as part-time jobs get snapped up quickly. Make sure your CV is up to date and you have plenty of copies to hand out to prospective employers.
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!