Student Support Fund (SSF)

The Student Support Fund (SSF) is provided by the University to help students studying at our Birmingham campus (including by distance learning) who are experiencing genuine and unavoidable financial difficulties, and are struggling with their living costs. The SSF is a discretionary grant, offering non-repayable support of up to £2,500 in an academic year. 

The SSF closed to applications from undergraduate students on the last day of term (19 June 2020). We have established a Summer Crisis Fund to assist continuing undergraduates who face additional accommodation costs over the summer and have no other means of financial support available to them.  You can find further details regarding this on our dedicated webpage. Postgraduate students can continue to apply to the main Student Support Fund in the normal way as their academic year is 52 weeks long (but any applications made after 1 August will relate to the 2020/21 academic year). Undergraduate applications for the next academic year (2020/21) will open on Monday 28 September 2020.  

The SSF is intended to assist with general living and course-related costs, and as such can not be used to settle student complaints or to assist with the payment of tuition fees. As explained below, the SSF uses pre-set living costs for some expenses in order to ensure parity and that funds are not misused to support more expensive lifestyle choices.

All applications will be means-tested, therefore some applications will be unsuccessful.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: The Funding, Graduation and Awards team continue to be here for our students during this challenging time, working remotely to assess applications to the Student Support Fund and provide funding advice as quickly as we can. We have made some changes to how we assess applications to the Fund so that we can ensure that we are able to meet the needs of our students as they deal with the economic impact of the current situation, as outlined below.    

 

What changes have you made in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

We recognise that the Expected Provision (EP) figure that we normally use to assess first- and second-year undergraduate applications to the SSF from UK students is no longer an appropriate measure, given that most students are likely to experience a drop in earnings alongside a reduced ability from family/friends to make additional contributions to support them during their studies. We will therefore reduce the EP that we use in our calculations from the 20 March 2020 until the end of the academic year (to the end of the summer term) accordingly. 

For international students, postgraduates and part-time students, we will not be enforcing the Minimum Realistic Provision (MRP) regulation from this point forward. You will still need to be able to demonstrate that you made MRP for the initial part of your course (prior to 20 March 2020), but we understand that continuing to do so under the current circumstances will be challenging.

There may instances in which a student has already received the maximum award of £2,500 but is now facing additional, exceptional financial issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under these circumstances you can apply for up to £500 of additional support from the SSF, even if you have already received the maximum award. To be eligible for further support, you will need to have received your £2,500 award before 20 March 2020. To apply for extra support, please email ssf@contacts.bham.ac.uk with a personal statement outlining how your financial situation has changed, attaching bank statements that cover the last three months for all of your accounts and any supporting evidence pertaining to the impact of COVID-19 on your financial situation. 

Am I eligible to apply?

All current, normally registered students are eligible to apply, regardless of nationality, level of study or whether you study part time or full time. Students who are studying at our Dubai campus, however, should apply to the Dubai Emergency Assistance Fund instead of the SSF. Please contact your Welfare Tutor if this applies to you.

In order to be eligible to apply to the SSF for support you must be normally registered (except students who are absent for medical reasons) and you must meet the following general criteria:

Undergraduate students who are eligible for support from the Student Loans Company or the NHS must have received at least the first instalment of the maximum loan or NHS Bursary to which you are entitled. 

All other students must be able to show that you had at least £180 per week available to you (or £123 per week if you live with your parents) to cover your general living costs and an additional £123 per week per dependant for the first 25 weeks of the year (up until 20 March 2020). This is known as the Minimum Required Provision (MRP) and can be met via a combination of loans, scholarships, savings, sponsorship, etc.

How will my application be assessed?

Your application will be considered with care by experienced members of the Funding, Graduation and Awards team. There are two types of awards available:

Standard Awards
Most applications will be assessed for a Standard Award, where your expected income and that of any partner/spouse will be compared against your reasonable expenditure. If there is a clear deficit between the two, we will make a Standard Award to cover the deficit (up to a maximum of £2,500).  Please note, however, that in carrying out any assessment for students that have been means-tested by the SLC or the NHS, we must include any assessed contribution that parents are expected to be making, whether or not this contribution is actually being paid.  Official figures regarding these amounts are not always apparent, so please refer to our Loan Information Sheet (PDF - 266KB)  for further information.     

All students encounter costs for food, bills, clothes, leisure, plus they may have to pay for rent, travel and course costs, however some students will choose to spend more than others. To ensure parity, we will use pre-set values that are considered reasonable for each of these costs when assessing your application.

Please note that anything you have in savings over £1,000 will be taken into account as part of your income. If you need to use the £1,000 in order to meet MRP then this will be included as part of your income too. 

Exceptional Awards
A small number of students may be faced with unforeseen or exceptional circumstances, such as essential household repairs, emergency situations, court action, etc. In these instances we may be able to make an Exceptional Award as a one-off contribution towards these costs. Such students should apply in the normal way, as described below. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

How do I apply?

If, having read the eligibility information on this page and the SSF Regulations 2019-20 (PDF - 559KB), you believe that you may be eligible for support from the SSF you can obtain an application form by completing our online Release Form. This will ask you to confirm that you meet some of the key eligibility criteria for an award before providing you with a link to the application form. 

You must complete the SSF application form in full and provide photocopied or scanned copies of all supporting documentation requested on the Supporting Evidence Checklist. These documents need to be legible and as such we are unable to accept screenshots.  Should you decide to submit original documents please be aware that these will not be returned.    

What happens after I submit my application?

You will be notified via your University email account that your application has been received. The member of Funding, Graduation and Awards who is looking after your application may contact you to ask for clarification or for further evidence to enable your application to be processed. Please check your University email account regularly as any delay in submitting this information will cause a delay in the assessment of your application. 

You will receive a decision on your application within four weeks of our having received all of the documents required in support of your application. If you need support while awaiting the outcome of your SSF application, please contact your Welfare Officer or Tutor to ask about a funding referral.  

Where can I get more advice?

Funding, Graduation and Awards run regular funding advice drop-in clinics at which you can get general advice about funding your studies and budgeting tips. 

If you have any queries about the SSF, please refer to the SSF Regulations 2019-20 (PDF - 559KB) for further details. If you are unable to find the answer to your question, you can email us at ssf@contacts.bham.ac.uk for further advice.

For advice on completing your SSF application form, you can talk to Guild Advice in the Guild of Students. If money worries are causing you anxiety, please speak to your Welfare Officer/Tutor. You can also get help from from the Mental Health and Wellbeing team.

If you need advice about debt management then you will need to speak to a debt counsellor. The Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice offer free, confidential and impartial advice about managing debt. 

If you are struggling with gambling, the Young Gamers and Gamblers Educational Trust (YGAM) provides useful information about sources of advice and support. 

 

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