Student Life Centre

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Hardship Funds ?

The University sets aside money from its budget to support students who are in financial difficulty. This money is supplemented by donations from our Alumni.

In 2019/20 we have four hardship funds, each with different eligibility criteria which cover all the students are Sussex. As an applicant you don’t need to know which fund you are applying to.

Am I eligible ?

If you are registered on any UG, PGT or PGR course offer by the University, you eligible for the Hardship Fund.

If you have suspended your studies (on temporary withdrawal or authorised absence) you are NOT eligible for an award.

How do I apply for the Fund ?

The online application form can be found here

What principles govern the Fund ? 

A list of our guiding principles can be found here

Am I a priority student ?

We realise that all students can get into financial difficulty, however there are groups of students who may struggle financially due to their circumstances. If you are in one of these groups, you may receive a larger award due to your priority status.

UG Priority Groups:

If you have caring responsibilities, a disability that preclude work, are a care leaver or are estranged from your parents, a mature student (over 21 at the start of your course), or homeless before entering University or a finalist.

PGT Priority Groups:

If you have caring responsibilities, a disability that preclude work, or were homeless before entering University or entering the final term of your studies.

PGR Priority Groups:

If you have caring responsibilities, a disability that preclude work or your funding has finished but you studies have been extended due to the pandemic.

What are the criteria for making awards ?

In normal circumstances the University used the National Association of Student Monet Advisors’ guidelines for assessing awards. These are used by most of the UK Universities for making hardship awards.

The current circumstances have made this very difficult and, for the duration of the pandemic, we are supporting students with a lump sum award and allowing students to apply on multiple occasions.

Before we make an award we will ensure that you have applied for all the funding you are entitled too, as this can be a larger amount than you will receive for the fund. We will check that you have applied for maximum state funding (either loans or benefits) your government allows for the year. 

Please note: You can still be eligible for an award if you have savings IF these are for expenditure directly related to your current course, such as the remaining fee installments or rent until the end of the year etc. If you do have savings you will need to tell us what they are for in your supporting statement.

When will funding decisions be made, and payments released ?

Decisions will be made within 20 days of receipt of the supporting documentation, and outcomes notified by university email. Payments are made into (UK only) bank accounts as recorded within Sussex Direct.

Why is the documentation needed ? Some of it seems very intrusive.

We operate the funds on a trust basis, i.e. if you tell us something, we will believe it. However, there are times that we need confirmation, normally as we try to make larger awards to cover additional expenditure.

When we are making a hardship assessment we try to consider as much of your expenditure as possible, so we ask for information about childcare costs etc. Similarly, we ask for medical information so we can try to mitigate additional costs through the fund.

We ask for annotated bank statements for two main reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, it is a money advice tool for you. By identifying expenditure over a certain amount, particularly if it is regular expenditure, it helps you with your budgeting. Secondly it helps us identify any underlying issues that you may need support with beyond the immediate lack of money.

All the assessors are trained Money Advisors and we use the hardship application as a starting point for students who need more support. Sometimes this will be money advice, sometimes we may ask you if we can refer you to other colleagues who may be able to offer additional support.

How much can I expect to get ? 

Different groups of students in different circumstances will have receive different award amounts and maximum award caps. 

During the pandemic we are giving smaller awards. but students can apply more regularly but total awards each year (August to July) will not exceed this amount.

Can an award be used to pay tuition fees ?

We calculate hardship awards based on your living costs needs and do NOT consider fee debt as part of any award. All hardship awards are paid direct to you (we will not pay outstanding accommodation or fee debt). While we have no control over how you spend the money, we do advise using the money to support your maintenance rather than paying fees.

If I apply, will I be guaranteed an award ?

The short answer is no. We do make an assessment as part of the award process. Students who income is assessed as greater than their assessed expenditure will not get an award. Similarly, students who have uncommitted savings will also not be deemed in hardship. Finally, we do ask that students have applied for all state funding they are eligible for before making a hardship application.

When should I apply ?

It is always best to apply before you are being chased by creditors, so if you can identify ahead of time when you are going to be in financial hardship that will allow us time to process your application and make an award.

Given the turn around time for the hardship application can take to process you may want to consider taking an interest free loan of up to £700 to cover your financial shortfall. More information can be found here:

Can I apply more than once ?

Yes, if you have not already been given an award of the maximum capped amount for your circumstances.

During the pandemic, and in the economic aftermath, we are generally making smaller awards with the expectation that students will re-apply if still in need.

Under normal circumstances awards are assessed over the whole academic year, so you would normally have to prove you had a change in circumstance (loss of job or increase in rent etc.) or one off expenditure that was not foreseen at the time of your original application (such as boiler repairs etc.).

How does a hardship grant affect my state funding  ?

In most cases a hardship fund grant is not seen as income and doesn’t need to be declared, i.e. any UK student loans or UK state benefits will be unaffected.


Contact Details

Student Funding Team, Student Life Centre, Bramber House


See also