Funding and refunds for students

If you are a student and going through treatment for cancer, you may find there are added costs that will affect your finances. You may find yourself having to spend more money on clothing, food and transport. And what happens to your student loan or tuition fees if you have to take time off from your studies?

Your student loan

If you are receiving a student loan you are entitled to receive funding on a pro rata basis for periods that you are in attendance.

If you need to take time off from college or university, and you've already received a student loan payment, you can speak to Student Finance England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or the Student Awards Agency Scotland, to find out next steps.

You may decide to nominate a parent, guardian or good friend to have access to your Student Finance account. This can be done at the application stage or at a later date. You will need to arrange this first before any of your information can be passed on.

To do this you will need to provide certain written information to give consent to share or fill in a legal document to allow power of attorney. To find out more call:

Refund policies

Whether or not you will have to repay any of your funding back will depend on your circumstances. In cases where you can provide written evidence of your 'compelling personal reasons' such as poor health, Student England Finance says it will take this into consideration.

Speak to a student welfare or benefits adviser at your university or college to find out if they can help you secure further funding, or avoid any charges or interest if you have to take time off.

Tuition fees

You can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan if you're a full-time UK or EU student. But if you've paid tuition fees and you have to take time off or withdraw altogether, what will happen to the money?

Unfortunately, there is no set answer to this because each university has its own set of rules. However, in most cases, students will be entitled to a refund if they've paid their tuition fees and subsequently withdrawn.

This will be calculated differently depending on whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate, if you're paid back on a weekly or monthly basis, and depending on how many weeks there are in the academic year.

Rules may also differ where a course is modular. In this case you may be charged for each module you have started before having to withdraw from your studies.

Speak to the student finance team or welfare officer to find out the rules and regulations.

University accommodation

If you have to move back home to recuperate, or spend long periods in hospital, the best thing to do is to speak to your accommodation officer as soon as you know your situation.

It could be that providing you hand your keys back and give at least four weeks' notice, you may not need to pay the rent for the rest of the period.

You may also be able to receive a refund for any overpayment – but again, this depends on your university policy.

If you are unhappy with your university or college refund policy then you should start by discussing it informally with the relevant member of staff. You can also find details in your student handbook or website about how to make a complaint.

Private accommodation

If you are living in private accommodation it will be up to the good will of your landlord to decide if you can leave your contract early, if needs be.

Unfortunately, in reality you may be expected to pay the rent until the end of a signed contract or lease. If this is the case, you could try calling Shelter’s free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

TV licence

If you are moving home for the summer and bought a TV licence at the beginning of the academic year, you will have three months remaining on your licence that you can claim back. 

To be eligible you need to be leaving halls or rented accommodation and moving to a licensed address. Find out more by visiting the TV Licensing website or calling 0300 790 6113.

Updated August 2016, next review due 2017.