Dealing with finances as a student can get confusing at times and we know that student life often means having to live on a budget.

Some students rely on receiving a student loan, whilst others are self-funded or receive grants and scholarships.

Whatever your situation SU Advice is here to offer some practical advice and information to support you to make the most of your money.

Managing your money and having a sense of control over your financial circumstances can be tricky to achieve. Debt and hardship can also have a significant impact on other aspects of your studies, your student lifestyle and on your mental health and wellbeing.

No two people’s circumstances are identical so its important not to judge your own situation against someone else. The ideal aim is to balance your incomings and outgoings and hopefully have a little bit left over each month that you could save or use to treat yourself. Getting to grips with your budget can be a daunting task but there is lots of support available to make it easier.

Building your knowledge:

The University provides a free, easy to use resource through Blackbullion, that is designed to help you to take control of your finances, not only whilst your studying but also for the future. Blackbullion provides modules that you can work through online to learn more about budgeting, saving, credit cards etc. You can sign up free using your University email details.

Student Budget Calculators:

A quick Google search will bring up lots of different online budget calculators. These tend to be quite simple to use and can be a really good tool to help you plan and estimate your costs for the year or even per term. A quick budget calculation like this can help you to identify where problems may arise and can help you to think in advance about what you can do to avoid these issues (e.g. would a part-time job help, do you need to cut back on some of your spending etc).

Budget trackers:

Tracking your budget requires more effort than simply calculating your budget but will give you a real-time view of your finances and more control over your money. There are lots of different trackers that you can use, some come with your student bank account if you use an online account/app. Save the Student have reviewed some of the best online budget calculators and trackers if you are unsure where to start.

These days choosing to go to University means paying a hefty sum for your tuition fees. For most UK Students there is financial support available through government loan schemes (some EU students may also have previously been eligible for some tuition fee support).

For international students, you may be eligible for student loans through your home government systems and scholarship agencies.

However you receive support it is important to remember that if for any reason your financial support stops, you will still be personally liable for your tuition and accommodation fees.

Undergraduate Student Loans:

The UK Government provides eligible UK students with a tuition fee loan. This means you do not need to pay any tuition fees upfront to the University and you only start repaying the loan once you are earning over £25,000 per year. The current loan scheme means you will repay 9% of your earnings over £25000 (e.g. if you earn £30000 per year, you will repay 9% of £5000). A tuition fee loan will be paid directly to the University by the Student Loans Company. In addition to a tuition fee loan, most UK students will also be eligible to apply for a maintenance loan. This loan is paid directly to you on a termly basis and is to help with basic living and study costs. For most students, the amount of maintenance loan you will receive will be calculated based on your family/household income.

It is your responsibility to ensure you complete the relevant forms and provide the necessary evidence to Student Finance in order to be assessed correctly. If you are experiencing difficulties with Student Finance then please book an appointment with one of our SU Advice team and we would be happy to discuss this with you.

Please note, if you choose to intermit or repeat a year of your studies this can have an impact on the student loan you will receive. Its important to get advice before making a decision to ensure you understand the possible implications – our advisers are available to discuss these implications with you.

Postgraduate Student Loans:

Most UK students are likely to be eligible to apply for a postgraduate loan. Unlike the Undergraduate loan, the amount you get will not be based on your household income – currently for courses starting after 1st Aug 2020 you can get up to £11222. The loan is paid directly to you so you can choose whether to use it for tuition fees or living expenses. The loan will be paid in termly instalments and if your course is more than 1 year, the total amount you receive will be split over the duration of the course. You will start repaying the loan when your income is above £404 per week, or £1750 per month (before tax and other deductions) and you will pay back 6% of the amount you earn over these thresholds (e.g. if you earn £504 per week you will pay 6% oof £100) . If you also have an Undergraduate loan, this will have its own repayment plan and you will also pay that repayment plan at the same time.

University Financial Support:

The University offers financial support packages that you may be eligible to apply for if you find yourself in an unexpected situation or running low on cash:

  • Hardship Fund open to UK, EU and International students who are experiencing unforeseen financial difficulties. The fund can be used for living costs, residential fees and rent, equipment/digital costs and childcare costs.
  • Late Funding Loan UK Home students (Undergraduate and Postgraduate) who have applied for Student Finance loans, but not yet received any payments
  • Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) Laptop Contribution Fund a £200 contribution towards the cost of a laptop for students whose disability means that they need on for study
  • Care Experienced Bursary Students who were in UK local authority care before starting their course at Essex or are genuinely estranged from both parents/carers and postgraduate students who were under the age of 25 at the start of their course
  • Refuge Bursary Undergraduate and Postgraduate students with UK refugee status, or children of UK refugees.

Other Loans, Grants and Bursaries:

  • Private Student Loans - In addition to government student loans, there are also private student loan providers such as banks and companies such as Future Finance. It is important that you ensure you understand the terms and conditions of any loan agreement before you sign up and you may wish to seek independent financial advice before doing so.
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate University Scholarships and Grants the University offers different scholarship, grants and fee discounts that you may be eligible to apply for. These can be specific to nationals from certain countries or based on your academic achievements (outstanding grades etc). In most cases this is put in place before a student begins their studies, through the admissions process
  • University of Essex EU Undergraduate Scholarship - offers a deduction of £5,000 annually, for first year students starting in 2021. These scholarships are restricted to EU applicants who are classified as international students for fees purposes. Applicants must be entirely self-funded and must be starting their first year of study on an undergraduate degree course at the University of Essex in 2021-22. Applicants must actively make Essex their firm choice by 19 July 2021. Applicants that become firm with Essex through rejection by their original firm choice selection elsewhere are not eligible. Only one scholarship award can be made per student and the award cannot normally be held in conjunction with other University of Essex awards.
  • Vinaver Memorial Trust - The Eugène Vinaver Memorial Trust exists to promote research into Arthurian studies, as defined by the International Arthurian Society. It offers subventions to publishers to facilitate the publication of scholarly works; it also offers grants to postgraduate students pursuing research in the Arthurian field. Awards up to UK £1,250 towards academic fees
  • The Conrad and Elizabeth Russell Emergency Hardship Fund - exists to support PhD candidates (in History) who meet with sudden and unexpected hardship. Applicants should meet all the following criteria: Have met with sudden and unexpected hardship. Be members of the IHR community (usually defined as being either a regular attender at IHR seminars or a regular user of the IHR as a reader). Be registered for a PhD in History at a British or North American university. Be resident in London, whether temporarily for the purposes of their research or as their normal place of residence. London is broadly defined as within the Greater London area. Have applied (wherever possible) to their own university or college for assistance before turning to the fund. Dependent on funds available, £1,000 will normally be available for distribution during any one year and an individual student will not normally receive an award of more than £500. Applicants must submit an application form
  • Commonwealth Scholarships - available for students from any commonwealth country. To be eligible you must be a Citizen or refugee in a commonwealth country; be able to start your education September 2021; Hold a 2.2 or above by September 2021; be unable to afford your education without this scholarship. The scholarship is only available for your first Postgraduate Masters degree
  • Charitable trusts and grants - Information about charities and trusts that offer awards and sponsorship to students and their application procedures can be found in the Educational Grants Directory and The Grants Register. Copies of these are available in the Albert Sloman Library, as well as in most public libraries. You can also try a grants search at Turn2us. Use the keyword "higher education" and then narrow your search by filling in other information about yourself.

Welfare Benefits:

Generally speaking, students studying at degree level and above are not entitled to claim benefits or receive Universal Credit (Universal Credit has replaced a number of individual welfare benefits). Tier 4 or Student Visa holders must not access any public funds or benefits as this would be a breach of your immigration conditions.

There are some exceptions and the following students may be eligible for welfare support/Universal Credit:

  • Part-time students
  • you’re aged 21 or under, in full-time non-advanced education and do not have parental support
  • you’re responsible for a child
  • you live with your partner and they’re eligible for Universal Credit
  • you’ve reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit and live with a partner who is under that age
  • you’re disabled and have limited capability for work and are getting:
    • Personal Independence Payment
    • Disability Living Allowance
    • Attendance Allowance
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment

You can find out more on the UK Government web pages and can complete an application form for Universal Credit online or by calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Some students may also be entitled to the new Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) if:

  • You are a lone parent
  • Both you and your partner are full-time students, you have a child together and you’re claiming JSA during the summer vacations
  • Taking time out from your studies due to il health or caring responsibilities

Part-time students may be more likely to meet the eligibility criteria for Jobseekers Allowance.

You can apply for Jobseekers allowance online through Jobcentre Plus.

As a student parent you may be eligible to receive additional financial support on top of a standard student loan. Generally this support is in the form of grants which are not required to be repaid.

Parents’ Learning Allowance:

This is a grant that can be used to help with course-related costs if you have a dependent child/children and are undertaking full-time undergraduate study (and Postgraduate Initial Teacher Training). The amount you will receive is assessed on your household income (your own income plus the income of your partner and any dependents). The maximum amount you could receive changes each academic year but is usually in the region of £1700 per year.

You can apply for the Parents’ Learning Allowance when you complete your student finance application and any grant you are eligible for will be paid in 3 instalments along with your student loan.

Childcare Grant:

Depending on your household income, you may be eligible to receive up to 85% of your actual childcare costs during term time and holidays. The grant is available to full-time Undergraduate students (and Postgraduate Initial Teacher Training students) who at the beginning of the academic year have:

  • At least one dependent child under 15 and in registered approved childcare; or
  • At least one dependent child under 17, who has special educational needs and is in registered approved childcare.

You may also be eligible to receive the Childcare Grant if you ordinarily live in England but are studying abroad as part of your course.

If during the academic year you (or a partner) receive Childcare elements of tax credits, Universal Credit, Tax-free childcare from HMRC or NHS funded childcare grants then you will not be eligible to receive the Childcare Grant at the same time.

You can apply for the Childcare Grant online as part of your main student finance application. If approved, you will be asked to register with the Childcare Grant Payment Service on their website and to set up an account. Your Childcare provider will also need to set up an account. They will invoice Student Finance England and you will need to confirm the amounts are correct and approve the invoice – your Childcare grant balance will then be paid directly to your Childcare provider.

You must apply for Childcare Grant within nine months of the start of the academic year.

All three and four year olds, and some two year olds, are able to get a free, part-time, early learning place in a pre-school setting, such as a nursery. A Childcare Grant won’t be paid for any period covered by this free place. However, it can be paid to cover the cost of any extra childcare you use over and above this. You can find out more about free early learning places here.

Adult Dependants’ Grant:

If you are a full-time Undergraduate student who has an adult who depends on you financially you may be eligible to receive the Adult Dependants; Grant. The adult may be a partner or another adult who depends on you financially, but they can not be a student in receipt of a statutory award or a relative whose income is more than £3796 per year. You cannot get the Adult Dependants’ Grant for any grown-up children.

You can apply for the this grant on your main Student Finance Application and any grant you are eligible to receive will be paid in 3 instalments alongside your student loan payments.

We know life as a student can be difficult, particularly when it comes to money.  Help is available to students experiencing financial difficulties. SU Advice offers a short term hardship loan (usually up to a maximum of £100).  There are no interest fees, or late repayment fees, but you will need to agree a repayment date for your loan.  If you do not repay your loan by the end of the academic year (June), you will be registered in debt with the University which can impact on your ability to attend graduation and/or register for your next academic year of study.

Loans can be issued via cash or via bank transfer straight into your account (please allow up to 5 working days for payments to be processed).  Repayments can also be made via cash (please visit the SU Advice Centre) or via online transfer (account details will be emailed to you).  Regretfully we cannot accept card repayments.

Terms and Conditions:

Please ensure you read and understand the following terms and conditions for the SU Advice Hardship Loan:

  1. Applicants must be currently registered students (you will be required to provide your PRID and present your Student Registration Card at the point of collecting the loan if your application is accepted) - please note Undergraduate students may not be eligible to receive loans during the University Summer vacation period as they are not deemed to be studying during the summer months.  PGT and PGR students and UG students who are undertaking placement or academic study during the summer period are still considered eligible to apply.
  2. Applicants must complete an application form and provide information as to why they require a loan, when and how they intend to be able to repay the loan.
  3. Standard loans amounts are between £5 and £100, however, in exceptional circumstances requests for larger loan amounts may be considered at the SU Advice Managers and VP Welfare officer's discretion. If you are asking for a larger loan amount you may be asked to provide further details/evidence when your application is processed.
  4. All loans are interest free but must be repaid
  5. Unless there are exceptional circumstances (this must be discussed and agreed with the SU Advice Manager) loans must be repaid by the end of the academic year.
  6. Any loan not repaid by the end of the academic year (unless with prior agreement) will result in the student being registered in debt with the University. This may result in you being unable to graduate or re-register for your next academic year until the loan has been repaid.
  7. Applications for loans to pay off a debt to the University will be refused.
  8. Applicants who have previously been registered in debt to the University for non-repayment of an SU Hardship loan will be refused.
  9. Students are eligible for a maximum of one loan per term and no further loans will be considered whilst a previous loan repayment is still outstanding.

Important information:

Everything you tell us will be treated confidentially, however, some details of your loan application will need to be shared with the SU Finance team and potentially with the University of Essex Finance/Income team. No details of the circumstances that have led you to require a loan will be shared.

By submitting this application form, you are agreeing to the following statements:

  • I confirm the information provided in this application is true, and that I have read and understood the Hardship Loan Terms and Conditions (as above) and agree to abide by them.
  • I understand that if I fail to repay, the debt will be passed to the University and will prevent me from graduating or re-registering for my next year of study and that no further loans will be permitted.
  • I understand that, to ensure the effectiveness of the service the SU Advice will keep a record of my application and details so that they can contact me, if necessary, about my loan. Under the General   Data Protection Regulations 2016/679, I have a right to see any records kept about me.

Statement of Consent:

By submitting this form, I give consent to the following:

  • I consent to information provided in this application regarding myself and my circumstances being held by SU Advice.
  • I consent to the following details of my loan application (if approved) being shared with the University of Essex Students’ Union Finance team for the purpose of processing my loan and recording repayments.

                   o Full Name

                   o Loan Reference number (as assigned by SU Advice)

                   o Amount of money loaned

                   o Loan Repayment date

                   o Bank Account transfer details (If I request payment of the loan directly into my bank account/repay the loan via online transfer)

  • I consent to the following details of my loan application (if I fail to repay the loan) being shared with the university of Essex Income and Finance teams and for the loan amount to be added as a University debt:

                   o Full Name

                   o University PRID number

                   o Amount of money outstanding

                   o Date repayment was due

                   o Date you were notified that you would be registered in debt


Please note, in some cases we may need to seek further information from Student Support regarding any previous loans you have taken with them. Unless you state otherwise (see the question in the application form), by submitting this form you authorise the staff of SU Advice to correspond with the University of Essex Funding team regarding any previous loans/grants taken.  We will let you know when and why, if we need to contact them.

To apply for a hardship loan, click the link below and complete the form.  

Apply here for a hardship loan

When getting financial advice and support it is important you use reliable and trusted support services. There are lots of advice charities that offer financial guidance – this is information about the various options available to you without recommending any particular option over an another. Guidance services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Some helpful guidance services include:

If you are looking for more personalised financial advice you may have to pay a fee. You should ensure the service or individual you use is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and that they are qualified (level 4 or above of the National Qualifications and Credit Framework and hold a current Statement of Professional Standing, SPS). When speaking with a Financial Adviser you should be informed about whether the advice you are being given is independent or restricted and how much you will need to pay to receive the advice. The following services can be used to help you find a financial adviser in your area: