“At the University of Bolton, we take great pride in providing a quality, supportive learning environment for our students.”
Professor George E Holmes DL | President & Vice Chancellor
“...tutors are very supportive and you’re not just a student ID number, at this university you are an individual with a name.”
Ellisse Vernon | BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing
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Please find below a list of frequently asked questions regarding Access to Learning advice. If you still cannot find the information you require please contact us by either completing the contact form below or by using the information to the right.
What is the hardship fund?
The Hardship Fund is money provided by the University to help students facing financial hardship. It can provide non-repayable awards to students who are having money troubles or have an unexpected emergency to deal with.
The fund is discretionary and the University allocates a fixed amount each year; so whether or not you get an award depends on your individual circumstances and on the availability of funds. The Fund is not intended to be used to fund your lifestyle choices.
How can I apply for the fund?
You will have to apply by completing the enclosed application form, or by collecting an application form from the Student Centre. If you need an application pack sending by post, please contact us on +44 (0)1204 903 484, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When should I apply to the fund?
You can apply at any point in the academic year. However, the university has a limited amount of money and while every effort is made to ensure that it remains available throughout the year (October – June), this cannot be guaranteed. You are encouraged to plan and review your budget early in your academic year so that, wherever possible, you can anticipate any difficulties and apply early. If you are a final year student you need to ensure that we receive your application form with all relevant documents at least four weeks before the end date of your course.
What is the earliest date I can apply to the access to learning fund?
The fund opens at the start of each academic year. The exact date will be confirmed each year and advertised in the Student Centre and on the Hardship webpages. Students applying to the fund must have enrolled/re-enrolled as a student at the University of Bolton.
How long will it take to process my application?
All complete applications will be processed within a 28 working day deadline. Incomplete applications are returned directly to the student.
How much will I receive from the fund?
The amount you will receive from the fund depends on the outcome of your assessment and if you have a shortfall/surplus of income and your mode of study. For all full-time undergraduate students, you may receive an award of up to £1000 and for part-time undergraduates, you may receive up to £500.
For full-time postgraduates, you may receive an award of up £500 and for part-time postgraduates, you may receive an award up to £250.
Please note, all the figures listed above are the maximum awards for each respective category of student.
When will I receive the award and how will this be paid to me?
There are three payment dates during the year, and all payments are paid by BACS transfer. The first instalment of your award will be paid within ten working days of receiving your awards letter. You should complete a bank nomination form when you apply to the Fund, this will ensure that you get paid directly into your designated bank account.
Can I get help with my tuition fees from the fund?
All students should apply directly to Student Finance England for help with their tuition fees. We are not able to include fees in the assessment calculation or help towards full-time tuition fees.
Can I apply each year that I am a student?
Yes, but please bear in mind that the outcome of your application may not be the same year on year.
Can I speak to someone about budgeting or benefit entitlements at the university?
Yes. You should contact the Student Centre who can arrange a budgeting session with an adviser. You can also speak to the Students’ Union Advice Unit Co-ordinator about your benefit entitlements or debt issues.
Am I eligible to apply to the fund?
As the fund has a limited amount of money we aren’t able to help every applicant. Some students are given priority; such as students with children and final year students. However, you can still apply even if you are not a priority student.
All applicants must have taken out their full student loan entitlement, and have received your first instalment of this before applying to the fund.
What documents must I supply with my application?
You MUST supply the following as a minimum:
ALL information supplied should be photocopied as we cannot return your evidence to you.
I have not received my student loan instalment, can I apply for help from the Access to Learning Fund?
No. You need to be in receipt of your first instalment of student loan prior to applying to the fund. However, you can apply for an Emergency Loan of up to £240, if you wish to do so, you should make an appointment directly with the Students’ Union Advice Co-ordinator or Student Funding Adviser in the Student Centre. Please note that you are required to repay the loan within a six-week deadline.
How will my application be assessed?
Your application is assessed following guidelines provided by NASMA and if successful, either a standard or non-standard award could be made. A non-standard award may be made where a student has an unexpected financial crisis or has unforeseen essential costs that cannot be met from other sources.
When we assess your application we will look at your income and expenditure over the course of the academic year.
What we will count as income:
What we will count as expenditure:
For the purposes of the fund, not everything you spend can be included as an expenditure. For instance, we do not include money spent on mobile phones, car costs (except for disabled students or students with dependants), holidays or furnishing your home.
We do include:
We also include a figure called ‘Composite Living Costs’. This includes flat amounts for money spent on basic living costs, such as food, household bills (gas, electricity, water, TV licence, etc.), clothes, and entertainment. This figure is included in everyone’s assessment, regardless of what they actually spend on these items. The Fund is not intended to support your lifestyle choices.
How many times can I apply to the fund during the year?
You only need to apply once a year as we assess your application over the academic year. If you are a single student we carry out your assessment over a 39 week period and if you are a student with dependent children or a disabled student we are required to do your assessment over a 43 week period.
If your financial circumstances change during the academic year and this is reflected in your income or expenditure levels, you can complete a further application form stating that this is a re-assessment.
Will I have to repay the award?
No. The money you are awarded is given to you as a grant and you are not required to repay the award. You should note that if you apply to the fund and have not repaid your Emergency Loan we will deduct the loan amount from your award in the first instance.
Why have I not got the same amount as last year when my circumstances have not changed?
We are required to use capped figures for income and expenditure and these will change on a yearly basis which will affect your assessment. We will send all students a breakdown of the award with their award letter and this will indicate how we assessed your application.
I have a number of debts that have not been taking into account on the assessment calculation, why?
Many students find it difficult to manage on the statutory support they receive and often incur debts as a result, but we cannot include all debts. What we can include depends if your debt is classed as a Priority or Non-Priority. Only Priority Debts will be considered under the fund.
Priority Debts are debts which, if left unpaid, could result in the loss of your home, imprisonment, cutting off gas or electricity. Priority debts are:
Priority debts will only be included in your assessment if you have agreed on a repayment plan and have started to make regular repayments – you will need to provide written confirmation of this. A priority debt will only be considered for an award once during your studies at the University. If you have previously had support for a priority debt we will not be able to give consideration to offering this support again due to constraints on the fund allocation.
Non-priority debts that will not result in the loss of your home, liberty or essential services include:
These cannot be included in your assessment. Please note that this list is not definitive.
What do I do if I don’t understand how my award has been calculated or I am not happy with the amount of award?
If you do not understand the breakdown of the award that you have been sent, you can make an appointment with a member of staff in Student Services on +44 (0)1204 903 484. The staff member will explain to you how we calculated your assessment. You can appeal against the decision only on the basis that we have calculated your award incorrectly or that you are providing further information to support your application. Unless you have a non-standard award that we can take into account when assessing your application we are not able to increase the shortfall or reduce the surplus on your assessment calculation.