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UK students - Lancaster University Undergraduate Funding
Access to Learning Fund (ALF)
What is it for?
The Government gives Lancaster University money – called the Access to Learning Fund – every year for us to help UK students who need extra financial support. Any award from the fund is given as a grant and is not repayable.
This money may be available where students have:-
a) a shortfall between income and expenditure over the academic year
b) higher than expected costs or a sudden financial emergency.
The Fund can be used for course-related costs such as books/equipment, travel or for general living costs such as rent.
If you think you might need to apply for help from the Fund, don’t wait until you have run out of money – make an appointment to see an adviser or ask for an application form – see How to Apply.
Help with Tuition Fees
The Fund cannot be used to help you to pay tuition fees.
Who can apply?
You must meet certain residence requirements to qualify for help from the Fund. The application form will give you more information about the residence requirement.
All UK undergraduate students who are accessing their maximum student funding entitlement from the Government are eligible to apply. If you are studying part-time you must be on a course which is at least half of an equivalent full-time course. Overseas students cannot apply to the Access to Learning Fund.
The Fund is there to help any eligible student who has a particular financial need, but we cannot meet every application we receive and we cannot always meet all of the costs that you might apply for. The Government asks us to give priority to the following groups of students when deciding how to allocate the funding, however even if you are not in one of the priority groups you can still apply
- Students in their final year
You are required to submit applicable evidence, detailed on the application form, to support your application.
Short term loans from the Access to Learning Fund
If you have not received your student loan BACS payment from the Student Loans Company at the start of term, because you have not yet received your finalised financial assessment, you can apply for an emergency loan. You will be expected to repay this loan when your first student loan instalment arrives. To apply for a loan please contact a Student Adviser, do not fill in the ALF application form.
UK Students who undergo a first diagnostic test for dyslexia, which cannot be met through Disabled Students Allowance, will automatically have a precentage of the costs covered through ALF. You do not need to complete an ALF application form, just speak to our Disabilities Service.Tel: 01524 592111.
If you are not attending your course for health reasons or because of caring responsibilities or any other unavoidable situation and you have not permanently withdrawn from your studies (you intend to return after your time out) you can apply for help from the Fund.
As a postgraduate student, you must show that you can meet your tuition fees and that you have made reasonable provision to support yourself throughout your course, including taking out a Professional Career Development Loan (PCDL) (or show one has been refused) where eligible. Your application to the Access to Learning Fund should be to meet unexpected or exceptional/unforseen costs. Evidence submitted must show adequate resourcing / financial preparation was made, otherwise an award is unlikely.
Students entitled to claim social security benefits
Payments from the Access to Learning Fund may affect your benefit payments. If this does happen please contact us as we may be able to provide a letter to assist you.
The Fund can also offer short-term help to continuing students at the start of the new academic year (usually September) for those whose Income Support has stopped and Housing Benefit has been reduced but who cannot yet receive their student loan and supplementary grants.
If you decide to apply to the Fund, you will need to provide supporting evidence. We do not want originals – legible photocopies are sufficient. If for any reason we need to see original documents we will contact you. Applications that do not have the correct supporting evidence cannot be processed. These forms will be returned to you, which will delay your application. The form and guidance notes will tell you what documents we need to see. We do ask to see bank statements covering the previous 3 months, so if you think you may need to apply for help from the Fund, it is a good idea to keep these. Don’t worry if you have not got them, as your bank should be able to give you duplicate copies or on-line copies if you do on-line banking. You may also be able to print full statements yourself if you have on-line banking.
How to apply
You can apply for help from the Fund at any time during the academic year. You can also make a repeat application, but normally only if your circumstances have changed. You will need to provide evidence to show your change in circumstances and complete a re-assessment form.
An ALF application form and guidance notes on how to fill it in can be obtained from The Base, A-floor, University House.
The final (end of year) deadlines for applications are given at www.lancs.ac.uk/sbs/funding/alfdeadlines.htm
How we assess your application
When deciding whether we can make a payment from the Access to Learning Fund, we will look at your expected income and what we consider to be “reasonable” expenditure on living costs, rent, travel and course-related costs such as childcare. If you are facing a financial “emergency” or there are special circumstances attached to your application, we will look at this on an individual basis. The detailed guidance notes with the application form will tell you more about this.
We will need details of your partner’s income and expenditure if this is relevant, as well as your own income and expenditure. If your parents have to make a contribution to your living costs, we will take this into account. If your parents are not paying this contribution even though your financial assessment notice from the SFE/SFNI/SFW/SAAS shows they have to, you will be asked to provide reasons why you are not getting this. This information will be treated in confidence.
Some of your income will be disregarded. If you or your partner are receiving benefits, we will not take into account any non-means tested benefits which are for particular circumstances eg Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance. We will also not look at actual earnings from part time work if you are a full-time student. Instead, we will use an “assumed income” figure. If you cannot wok because you have children to look after or you have a disability, we will not use this assumed income figure when looking at your application.
If I am eligible how long will it take before I get a payment?
Depending on when you apply, and your particular financial situation we aim to complete our assesment within 4 working weeks. If your application is incomplete, it could take longer than this. If you are applying for a short term loan, you will normally get a payment within 1 working week or within 24 hours depending on your situation.
You will get a letter via email from us explaining the decision we have made on your application and explaining how, if you have been made an award, this will be paid.
You can appeal against the written decision we give you on your application, this appeal must be submitted in writing within 7 days - there are limited grounds to appeal.