Continuing with further or higher education through treatment may give your child stability but it's important that they get the right support. There are a number of government benefits available to help students continue their education – as well as funding and refunds if they need to take a break.
Getting benefits and extra help
If your child is in further or higher education, they will be able to apply for tuition fee loans and maintenance loans. However, there are also a number of benefits and allowances which will give your child extra support if they are struggling with the extra costs of cancer:
- Bursaries, scholarships and awards: Apply for money directly from your child’s university or college.
- Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs): Grants to help you cover extra costs such as specialist equipment, note-takers or extra travel costs if your child has a disability, including cancer. The amount will depend on your child's needs.
- 16 to 19 bursary fund: Money for educational costs if your child is studying in England at a publicly funded school or college, or they are on a training course including unpaid work experience. Your child could receive £1,200 a year depending on their circumstances and if they are claiming certain benefits. The scheme for students in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is called Education Maintenance Allowance.
- Education Maintenance Allowance: Young people studying in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales can get up to £30 a week (paid fortnightly) to help with the cost of learning
- Discretionary Learner Support (DLS): For students aged 19 or over, on a further education course to help pay for expenses including accommodation and travel, course materials and equipment. The funding may be given as a loan, a direct payment (that won't need to be paid back) or be paid to someone else, for example, a landlord. Your child's learning provider decides how much and how the money is paid depending on your circumstances.
- Parents' Learning Allowance: If your child is a parent themselves, and studying, this allowance could provide them with between £50 and £1,573 for 2016/17 depending on their household income.
If your child needs to take time off
If your child student needs to take time off, 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 contact:
- Student Finance England - 0300 100 0607
- Student Finance Wales - 0300 200 4050
- Student Awards Agency Scotland - 0300 555 0505
- Student Finance Northern Ireland - 0300 100 0077
Whether or not your child will have to repay any of their funding will depend on their 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’s a good idea to speak to a student welfare or benefits adviser to find out if they can help apply for further funding, or avoid any charges or interest if your child has to take time off.
If tuition fees have been paid and your child has to take time off or withdraw altogether, each university has its own set of rules about what happens to the money. In most cases, students will be entitled to a refund if they've paid their tuition fees and then had to leave their studies.
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.
The student finance team or welfare officer will be able to explain the rules and regulations.
If your child has to move back home to recover 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 if the keys are handed back with at least four weeks' notice, rent could be waived for the rest of the period. Your child 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 the university or college’s refund policy then you 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.
It will be up to the good will of the landlord to decide if your child can leave their contract early.
In reality, your child 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.
If your child 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.
Reporting changes in circumstances
Students (or parents with their permission) will need to stay in touch with the department which pays out any benefits to keep them up-to-date with any changes.
Some benefits are only payable while a student remains in education. This means that students may be required to pay some of it back if they don't keep them informed.
For more information on claiming benefits contact the Disability Rights UK student helpline on 0800 328 5050.
- Look at our Education and training information for young people which gives detailed advice about their options and how to access other forms of support
- Explore ways to manage your money and dealing with debt
- Speak to a welfare adviser about your situation for free
Updated July 2017, next review due 2018.