Unexpected financial hardship

Last modified: 17 August 2016

UKCISA is not a funding organisation and we do not give grants or scholarships.

This information is aimed at students who are already on a course of study in the UK.

If you applied for immigration permission to come to the UK as a Tier 4 student, you will have had to show the UK Home Office authorities that you could afford to study and live here. You will have had to show that you could pay the tuition fees for one year of your course and meet your living costs for a maximum of nine months. If your course lasts for longer than a year, hopefully you considered how you were going to cover your costs for this extra time. Despite thorough planning, sometimes you can have unexpected financial problems after you arrive in the UK. For example, your financial sponsorship may suddenly end without warning or the value or your country's currency might suddenly decrease. Through no fault of your own, you may find yourself without enough money to pay your tuition fees and living costs.

If you have unexpected financial difficulties during your course, the help you get will depend very much on: the cause of your financial problem; how much money you need; the length of time you will need help; and what the money is needed for.

It is very difficult to find new sponsorship or other financial help once you are in the UK. If your financial problem will be long term, and/or if a very large amount of money is needed, there is often not much that can be done to help. You might have to consider returning home to look for new funding before you can return to UK to finish your studies. Many institutions will allow you to defer for a year and return to your home country to work for a year or find new sponsorship. If you stop studying in the UK, with Tier 4 or Student immigration permission, you cannot start working instead of studying; this is not allowed.

Speak to your university or college

Last modified: 03 August 2016

Worrying about money problems can have a very negative effect on your studies. You should tell your institution that you are having difficulties. The first step is to explain your problem to someone. You should try to speak your International Student Adviser, your academic tutor, your Welfare Officer, or someone at your Students' Union. They may be able to suggest ways of dealing with the problem and give you helpful information and advice.

It is important that you speak to an experienced adviser as early as possible and, especially, before you try to obtain financial help yourself. Their advice could help you avoid wasting time trying unrealistic sources and, therefore, endangering your student immigration status.

Advisers do not have large amounts of money available to help you pay tuition fees or living costs. There may be an institutional Hardship Fund or Access to Learning Fund but these are not available in all institutions. If they are available, the amount of money you can receive is usually low and limited to one payment.

If the financial hardship has been avoidable (for example, if you started the course knowing that you did not have enough money or that the funds from home would not last), there is probably nothing an adviser can do. You might have to consider returning home.

However, if something unexpected has happened, particularly in the last few months of a course, then the adviser can discuss your situation with you. They can help you choose the best alternative from your range of options.

Other options, after speaking to your university or college

Last modified: 16 August 2016

Help from your university or college

Private trusts and charities

Debt counselling

Part-time work

Part-time study

Welfare benefits

Government Student Support

Your own government and country

Things you must not do


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