As you head into the final term of the academic year and we all get to grips with a new way of studying, living and socialising, the wellbeing of our Leeds Trinity community is more important now than ever before. As students, we know that this time of the year is challenging enough, without the added stress of COVID-19 and its impact on your studies, accommodation and finances. This blog on money advice aims to offer reassurance and address any queries about financial wellbeing that you may have.
If you are waiting to receive student finance, you will be paid your third term’s payment as expected. You should apply for 2020/21 funding as normal, and as soon as possible. After initially closing their phone lines, Student Finance England has opened their contact centres again but with limited service, and they are prioritising urgent cases. You can access the Student Loans Company’s FAQs relating to student finance here.
Loss of earnings and support from the government
If you have been working under a casual, part-time, or in some cases even a zero hours contract, speak to your employer about whether they can keep you on and pay you through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Money Saving Expert offers further help including support for self-employed workers.
If you are a resident student on campus, you will have received communication regarding your accommodation fees. If you are renting a property and are struggling to pay the rent due to coronavirus loss of income, speak to your landlord or letting agent directly to see what support or delayed payment plan they might be able to offer.
Find advice on your renting rights and other advice for students on Money Saving Expert.
Not all students in full-time education are eligible to apply for means-tested welfare benefits, and this hasn’t changed. Students (or their family members) already in receipt of means-tested benefits, or those who are eligible to apply, can find out about Job Centre appointments, increases in allowances, and special provision for coronavirus loss of income here.
University Hardship Fund
The Hardship Fund provides discretionary financial assistance for students to help them access and remain in higher education – particularly those needing financial help to meet extra costs that cannot be met from other sources of support. The Hardship Fund can help to alleviate unexpected financial hardship and is usually non-repayable.
Students who may be considering leaving higher education because of genuine financial problems are particularly encouraged to apply. More information can be found on myLTU, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Budgeting and managing money
We realise that this is a very difficult financial time for many of you. However, for those of you who are in the position that you have returned ‘home’ and do not have to pay rent in the third term to your accommodation provider, why not think about the money you are ‘saving’?
Think about what you would have spent each day getting a coffee in Starbucks, lunch in the Dining Room, travel and socialising. You could transfer that amount per day/week into a savings account, keep a little tally of the amount to build up a contingency fund for future emergencies, or use it to do something nice in the future for the people who are looking after you now.
Like a bargain?
Money Saving Expert has a link to services you can now access for free – including audiobooks, fitness programmes and theatre performances - which may help to pass the time during lockdown.
Beware of scams
As hard as it is to believe, there are people out there who are trying to use this situation to con you out of your money. Anyone can fall from a scam so be vigilant and read up on what to look out for on Money Saving Expert here.
If you feel the coronavirus has put you and your family into significant debt we recommend you contact Step Change Debt Charity for advice.
For updates, advice on applying for Student Finance and other money tips, you can find Leeds Trinity Money Advice on Facebook.
Emma Quirke is a Student Adviser at Leeds Trinity. If you would like to discuss anything or need support with your financial wellbeing please email Student Finance. This information was up to date at the time of writing.
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