Funding and refunds for students

Supporting students through further education can be expensive and when your family is affected by cancer there will be added costs to consider. But what happens to student loans or tuition fees if your child has to take time off from their studies?

Funding and refunds for students

Your son or daughter's student loan

Students are entitled to receive funding on a pro rata basis for periods that they are in attendance.

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

If you decide to arrange access to your son or daughter's Student Finance account, you will need to first get them to give 'consent to share' or fill in a legal document to allow power of attorney. Only then will any information be passed on. To find out more call:

Refund policies

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

It may be worth speaking to a student welfare or benefits adviser to find out if they can help further funding, or avoid any charges or interest if students have to take time off.

Tuition fees

Full-time UK or EU students can apply for a Tuition fee loan. But if tuition fees have been paid and students 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 However, in most cases, students will be entitled to a refund if they've paid their tuition fees and subsequently withdrawn.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 students are undergraduates or postgraduates, if the money is 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 students may be charged for each module they have started before having to withdraw from their studies.

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

University accommodation

If your child has to move back home to recuperate, or spend long periods in hospital, the best thing to do is to speak to the accommodation officer as soon as possible. 

It could be that providing they hand their keys back and give at least four weeks' notice, they may not need to pay the rent for the rest of the period. They may also be able to receive a refund for any overpayment – but again, this depends on the university's 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 the student handbook or website about how to make a complaint.

Private accommodation

Many students will be living in private accommodation and it will be up to the good will of the landlord to decide if they can leave your contract early, if needs be.

Unfortunately, in reality the students 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 a student is moving home for the summer and bought a TV licence at the beginning of the academic year, they will have three months remaining on their licence that they can claim back. 

To be eligible they 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 July 2016, next review due 2017.