Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Personal responses to your questions...

(Click on the questions below to reveal the video response and a full text answer)

 

1. Who should I talk to if I’m not sure what financial help I can get at London Metropolitan University?

 

The University’s Advice, Information and Funding Service (AIFS) should be your first point of contact in a situation where you are uncertain of what financial help is available. It’s best to tackle a query or a problem as soon as it arises, and we are here to assist you where we can from offices in both the Aldgate and Holloway sites.
In addition we have prepared a series of more detailed information and advice sheets which are available on the Metranet site at www.londonmet.ac.uk/infosheets
We do however encourage you to take control of your own financial problems and try to solve the straightforward ones without the need of an adviser; hence this FAQ system.

 

2. Do I need to take out a loan?

 

Tuition fees for home and EU students studying undergraduate degree programmes at London Metropolitan University (LMU), and most other universities can be up to £9,000 per year.
Rather than pay this amount up front, a tuition fees loan will cover the cost of your degree. Maintenance loans are available to cover other living costs such as accommodation, food and books.

 

3. Is anyone eligible to receive support?

 

You need to be a home (UK) student or have ‘settled status’, and have been living in the UK for 3 years before starting your course. EU nationals are also eligible for a tuition fees loan. Certain other circumstances may also make you eligible including some recognised Migrant Workers from the EU. You must be studying on a recognised programme (for example, a BA, BSc or Foundation degree) with LMU.
If you have undertaken ANY previous Higher Education (HE) at a public institution anywhere in the world, this will adversely affect your entitlement to having even your fees paid. The SFE funding scheme is designed in the main for those moving into HE for the first time.

 

 

4. When should I apply?

 

You should try to apply well before the start of your course. Students starting a full-time course in September 2014 can apply as early as March 2014. Forms to download for students from elsewhere in the EU (EU fees only students cannot currently apply on-line) become available in late spring and on-line part-time applications can be made from the summer onwards. You do not need to wait until you have a firm offer with a university to apply to Student Finance England for financial assistance. It is common to change details of your chosen course, or even college, after applying for funding; it is perfectly possible to change application information such as this, but it is never possible to change a late application into one made in good time!

 

 

5. How long will Student Finance England (SFE) take to process my application?

 

Applications will take about 8 weeks to process at any time of year once you have provided all of the information requested and no matter what case you make for applying late if you do. Hoping to have your fees paid to LMU in good time if you only applied for funding at the start of the term or later is likely to leave you with a personal fees bill to pay which you will only recoup if Student Finance England (or the Student Finance Services Non-UK team for EU fees only applicants) approve your application with them. It is also important to provide all of the information as soon as you can. Do not miss out any relevant questions or documents required, as SFE will not begin processing until you have given them everything for which they have asked.                       

 

 

6. How do I apply?

 

Whilst it is possible for any student to apply using a paper form (students from elsewhere in the EU applying for a fees only loan must apply on a special paper EU form) the most common and swiftest  method of application is to complete an on-line application. You will need to visit https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-register-login, to first register and then apply for your student loans/grants. Forms for students from elsewhere in the EU wishing to claim a fees loan only can be downloaded from   https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-forms/y

 

7. Does everyone get the same amount?

 

You’ll receive the amount you need to cover your tuition fees, regardless of your household income and provided that you have asked for the maximum possible amount to be paid. Unlike tuition fee loans, maintenance loans are means-tested in accordance with the Regulations*, which means Student Finance England (SFE) will look at your household income (your parents’ or partner’s income). SFE will also take into account whether you plan to live at home during your studies, and where you will be studying. Students living at home with parents receive a lower level of loan than those living away from home.
If your family’s household income is below a certain threshold (in 2014 £25,000), you may be eligible for a full maintenance grant. Earnings between £25,000 and £45,000 will allow you a decreasing level of maintenance grant. This doesn’t have to be paid back, but it will reduce the amount of maintenance loan to which you are entitled. When the household income reaches £45,000 no grant is available, only a loan.
Additional assistance in the form of grants can also be given to help students with dependents, childcare and disabilities; these will be dealt with when you make your application for support

 

8. What happens if I have studied in Higher Education (HE) before?

 

Funding from Student Finance England (SFE), and particularly help with tuition fees, is designed to help those students who are entering HE for the first time. In this case students can be supported via a loan for the duration of their course. This funding allows for each student to also have a an extra year of support on top of the normal length of their course to allow for a change of mind in subject choice,  or the need to extend the course to fund the recovery of failed elements of the course. Students who already have an honours degree in most cases will not be assisted at all by SFE.
Students who have studied on another course before, regardless of for how long, whether part or full time,  whether abroad or in the UK, or who paid for that course will find that this will have some form of financial impact upon the support offered by SFE. The previous study usually has its initial financial impact upon the fees loan and students who have studied at Higher Education for any length of time before will find that they have lost support for the extra year mentioned above. The longer your previous study, the more is deducted from the years of support offered.

 

9. Will my maintenance loan/grant provide me with enough money on which to live, and if not can I also work to help boost my income?

 

Whilst many students are able to survive on only their loan/grant, students living away from their parents in London may well find that the cost of living in the city is higher than their support from SFE covers. Many students therefore work part-time whilst on their full-time course with LMU and money earned from this work will not affect their level of loan/grant support. Most students cannot register for Jobseekers Allowance whilst a full-time student as the law considers that you are not available for full-time employment. Students who are single parents can currently be considered for Housing Benefit and in some circumstances other forms of State Benefit and should contact their Local DWP office and their Local Authority for more information. All full time students are currently exempt from paying Council Tax.

 

10. Can I register as unemployed during the University vacations?

 

Generally if you are a full-time student you will remain with that status throughout any vacation periods. As such you will not be available for full-time employment and therefore cannot claim Jobseekers Allowance during the vacation. There are some exceptions, e.g. single parent students - please see our Full time students and benefits information sheet for further details: www.londonmet.ac.uk/infosheets/. If you are a part-time student the number of hours spent in guided study must be 15 hours or fewer per week to be considered for Job Seekers Allowance. If you feel you are in the latter category, you should seek advice from your local Jobcentre Plus.

 

11. If I do not live at home with my parents, does this give me Independent student status?

 

Living away from the parental home has in itself nothing to do with whether a student is considered as having Independent status by SFE and therefore not needing the parents to submit their income details for a full means-tested assessment. Independent status is granted by SFE if either:
The student has reached the age of 25 by the start of the academic year or,
The student is under 25 but was married or in a civil partnership before the start of the academic year
The student is under 25 but has supported themselves for 3 years prior to the start of their current course earning at least £7500 for each of those years or,
The student is an orphan or,
The student is under 25 but was in the care of a Local Authority for any 3 month period ending on or after their 16th birthday, and before the start of the course, or
The student is under 25 but had the care of a minor prior to the start of the academic year, or
The student is under 25 but is formally estranged from the parent/s and has had no contact or knowledge of their whereabouts for at least 1 year before the start of the course (estrangement will need to be substantiated by an independent professional (GP, Social worker etc.) and is not established by the student and parent ‘not getting on’ with each other, or
The student’s parents cannot be traced, or
The student’s parents live outside of the EC and an income assessment would put them in jeopardy.
If a student does not meet one of the above criteria then the parent/s will be required to complete their income details for the student to be assessed for maximum support.
Please remember that if as a Dependent student you do not ask your parents to supply income details, you will only receive a minimum -level maintenance loan and no grant. Parents are not obliged to contribute to your living costs, but by failing to declare their income will prevent you from receiving your maximum possible entitlement to support from SFE.

 

12. If the means-testing of my loan/grant entitlement shows that my parent/s is/are financially able to make a contribution to my living expenses, do they have to do so?

 

There is no legal obligation for a parent to contribute to the student’s support at university. SFE undertake the means-testing process in order to determine how much support SFE can offer you. Parents do not have to provide any support that this process shows they could make, but SFE will not provide any additional funding if parents decide they would rather not assist the student.

 

 

12a. I’m a single student living on my own; do I ask SFE to means test my entitlement?

 

A simple yes – always ask for means-testing if you are seeking the maximum amount of support even if you live alone.

 

13. Who lends me the student loan?

 

The Government, via the Student Loans Company (SLC) will be the lender. Tuition fee loans are paid directly to your university, while you receive the maintenance loans straight into your bank account each term.

 

14. I applied for funding only recently, term has started and my Tuition Fee/Maintenance support has not been paid; what can I do?

 

The straightforward answer to this is WAIT! Student Finance England (SFE) have many thousands of students to process each year and for this reason students are strongly advised to apply well before the start of their course (April for September start courses). If the University are requiring the payment of tuition fees and these have not been processed by SFE, call them and ask for a likely processing time. This time cannot be varied by yourself or any other person by stating that you are being asked for a fee payment; SFE will state that the delay is due to your late application or because you have not supplied them with correct information/evidence. YOU MUST tell the University’s Income Collection team (those that sent you the invoice) that there is likely to be a delay in fee payment whilst SFE process your application. It is ESSENTIAL that you keep communicating with the University. You may choose to see a member of the Advice, Information and Funding Service (AIFS) who will try to assist you with further guidance at this stage.

 

15. What happens to my Tuition Fee Loan, Maintenance Loan/Grant if I take a break in my studies?

 

The answer to this is related to the type of break you are proposing to take. SFE allow a student a certified sickness absence of up to 60 days in a year before any funding is deducted from finance to be paid to you.

A period of agreed intermission/interruption will result in the funding from SFE ceasing for the period of your intermission. Students are advised to discuss breaks in study of this nature with their Personal Academic Advisor/Tutor prior to making any firm plans for a break. SFE will normally cover a student’s fees and any grant for only one extension to the course that a break may cause.

You are unlikely to be funded for more than one course extension of this kind unless this was as the result of Compelling Personal Reasons (CPR) for taking the break. SFE will require independent proof of CPR before deciding whether they can fund more than one course extension. Tuition fees will be paid pro-rata to London Metropolitan University for any incomplete year as the result of an agreed break in study; these partial fee years will be added to your overall tuition fee loan total at the end of your course, and repaid in the usual way.

 

 

16. Will a placement year affect my student funding?

 

The majority of placement students are paid by the employer and as such this will reduce or remove your student funding from SFE. During your placement year, you are eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan and some Maintenance Loan. You will not be eligible to receive the Maintenance Grant/Special Support Grant or any of the additional grants for children or disability unless your university based study is for more than 10 weeks.
Unpaid placements are increasing in number in certain fields as employers feel unable to assist those on work experience. Only a few types of unpaid placement in the following very specific employment areas attract the potential for full funding from SFE although some support may be offered if your university based study is for more than 10 weeks during this period.

  • Unpaid service in a hospital or in a public health service laboratory
  • Unpaid work in a primary care trust in the UK
  • Unpaid service with a local authority in the UK relating to the care of children and young persons,     health or welfare, or with a voluntary organisation providing similar facilities or activities in the UK
  • Unpaid service in the prison or probation and aftercare service in the UK
  • Unpaid research in a UK institution or in the case of a student attending an overseas institution as a part of his course in an overseas institution
  • Unpaid service with a Health Authority, a Strategic Health Authority, a Special Health Authority or a Local Health Board; a Health Board or a Special Health Board in Scotland; or a Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland.

Below are some details of what you can expect in terms of funding from SFE:
Paid placement where study is more than 10 weeks can get: full SFE support as though in attendance at the institution for the whole academic year.
Paid placement where study is less than 10 weeks can get: reduced fees, reduced rate maintenance loan only. No grants are payable.
Unpaid placement where study is more than 10 weeks can get: full support as though in attendance at the institution for the whole academic year.
Unpaid placement where study is less than 10 weeks can get: reduced fees, reduced rate maintenance loan only. No grants are payable.

Wherever possible opt for a paid placement. If you have made your placement type clear to SFE in your funding application your support entitlement should be calculated correctly. If you are uncertain about your funding throughout your placement period then you should contact both your Personal Academic Advisor/Tutor and the Advice, Information and Funding Service who should be able to clarify you financial support status for you.

 

17. Why is my maintenance loan for the final year of my course less than any other year?

 

The loan and grant for maintenance is payable across the entire year including the major vacations, e.g. for students whose courses begin in the autumn and finish in the following summer each year. However, in your final year there will be no summer vacation break as you will have completed your studies. Your final year maintenance support is therefore reduced by the money normally paid for the summer break.

 

 

18. I will be studying for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), can I get help with this post-graduate course?

 

This post-graduate course for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) is the ‘exception to the rule’ and attracts support from SFE in the same way as does a degree.  In addition to support using SFE, many PGCE students have access to a substantial government bursary which is not repayable. The availability and level of bursary is associated with the pass standard of your degree, and the subject and level at which you plan to teach. Students with a 2.1 or a First in a key science, math or foreign language subject will see the greatest level of bursary assistance (can be as high as £20k). To explore this support further, see the following website http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/funding/postgraduate-funding and speak with your faculty.

 

 

19. When do I need to pay back my loan?

 

You don’t start to pay your student loans back until you are earning at least £21,000 per year. You only ever pay 9% of any income over £21,000 each month via the Revenues and Customs Service (Inland Revenue). So, for example, if you earn £25,000, then you will pay back £30 per month which will be deducted automatically from your salary.

 

20. Is there interest on my loan?

 

Yes. While you are studying, the interest rate on your loan is the rate of inflation (RPI) plus 3%. When you are earning £21,000 or less, you’ll just pay the rate of inflation. Between £21,000 and £41,000, the interest rate is the rate of inflation plus up to 3% on a sliding scale. Over £41,000 and you pay the rate of inflation plus 3%.
But remember, this does not affect your repayments. You will only ever pay 9% of any income over £21,000, regardless of the interest accumulated.

 

21. What if I lose my job or stop working for another reason?

 

If you lose your job, then you stop making repayments. When you are back to earning at least £21,000 per year, then you start making payments again.

 

22. What if, having graduated, I get a job overseas?

 

The loan agreement you take out with the SLC requires that you notify them if you plan to change address for longer than 3 months including going abroad to work. The inflation rates and cost of living overseas can differ from those in the UK and so you may begin paying back your loan when your annual income is less than £21,000.

 

 

23. When will I pay off my loan?

 

This depends mainly on your earnings after graduation, and changes to the rate of inflation may also have an impact. The more you earn, the more you will pay off each month, and the quicker you will repay your loan. However, after 30 years all student loans are written off completely, regardless of how much or how little you have paid.

 

24. How can I apply to the London Metropolitan National Scholarship Programme scheme and what support does it offer?

 

This information applies to 2014/15 students only as the scheme is due to change in 2015/16.You first need to have applied to Student Finance England for funding and be assessed to receive a Maintenance Grant from them. You must have accepted a place at London Metropolitan University through UCAS. The Scholarship is in the form of a reduction in tuition fees and a cash sum for personal assistance. These are offered to students from low income backgrounds. More information on the criteria and an on-line application form can be found at:
http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/courses/national-scholarship-programme.cfm

 

25. Why have I received a Tuition Fees bill for my undergraduate course from London Metropolitan University (LMU)?

 

If you have received a tuition fee bill this normally means that LMU have not received a fee payment confirmation from Student Finance England (SFE). This may be because you have either not applied, or only recently applied for financial support from SFE or because, for a variety of reasons, you are not currently entitled to fee assistance from SFE. DO NOT IGNORE THE REQUEST FOR PAYMENT. You should contact Student Finance England and the London Metropolitan University Income Collection team immediately for clarification, or see an Advice, Information and Funding Service adviser in Student Services.

 

26. Can Student Finance England (SFE) provide funding for my Postgraduate study, and if not where can I look for financial help?

 

Other than the Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) leading to qualified teaching status, the answer is NO, SFE are forbidden by law to assist with postgraduate study. Social Work Bursaries are available for a very limited number of MSc courses in the field of social work; your faculty should be able to assist you with this if it applies to your course.  Students studying other MA/MSc courses have limited options for financial support. Postgraduate students either:

1. Self-fund from savings or a personal bank loan

2. Apply to either Barclays or the Co-Operative Banks for a Career Development Loan. Only these banks operate the scheme which requires the student to repay the loan as soon as they complete their course or sooner. Fuller details can be found here.

3. Seek funding from one of the Grant Making Trusts associated with your subject of study. The trusts are listed in The Directory of Grant Making Trusts available from the university library or many good public libraries as a reference book (ISBN 978 1 906294 87 8). The Directory is regularly updated and is a good source of postgraduate funding sources.

4. Try the following website. The Find-a-Masters organisation encourages Masters Students to approach them to secure funding. Funding is limited and so an early application is essential http://www.findamasters.com/funding/