|What is the Access to Learning Fund?
The Access to Learning Fund (ALF) is a sum of money given to the University from the Government. It can provide non-repayable awards to students who are having money troubles or have an unexpected emergency to deal with. The fund is discretionary and cash-limited so whether or not you get an award depends on your individual circumstances and the availability of funds. The Access to Learning Fund should not be seen as a guaranteed source of income for any student.
|Can I apply to the fund?
You must be enrolled on an undergraduate course of at least 60 credits per year, or a postgraduate course of at least 80 credits per year (i.e. 50% of an equivalent full-time course, or 25% if you have a disability).
If you are eligible for a student loan you must have applied for your maximum entitlement and have received your first instalment before you apply to the fund. As the fund has a limited amount of money so we can’t offer help to every applicant and we can’t always meet all of the costs that you might apply for. Certain students are given priority:
If you don't fall into one of these groups you can still apply but you will need to provide detailed evidence of your particular financial hardship. If you do fall into a priority group, this does not guarantee that you will receive an award from the Access to Learning Fund as applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.Before you apply you should look into all other possibilities and have taken out your full loan entitlement, including your full tuition fee loan (if eligible).
|How do I apply?
Application forms and accompanying guidance notes are available to download from here from 19th September 2016. As well as the form you'll need to provide some additional information, for example, your Student Finance Breakdown from Student Finance England, and bank statements.
|How do I complete the form?
You should read the guidance notes that are provided with the application form. These will help you fill in the form, and they will also help you provide us with all the information we need, which will prevent unnecessary delays in your application being processed. The guidance notes also tell you how your form is assessed, why we need the documents and information we ask for, and how you are paid if you receive an award.
If your application form is incomplete or if you haven’t attached the relevant supporting documents, your application will be returned to you. So it’s really important to read the notes before you complete the form, to refer back to them regularly, and to keep a copy of the notes after you’ve submitted your application. We will email you at your MMU email address within three working days of submission of your form to confirm that it has been received and whether we require any extra information or whether it has been put through for assessment. You should check your MMU email address regularly.
The Student's Union Advice Centre can offer one-to-one assistance with your application.
|When should I apply?
It is best to apply early. Don’t wait until the close of the scheme – the fund is cash limited so we can’t guarantee there will be support available throughout the year. But to apply you must be fully enrolled, and if you are eligible to receive student loans you must have received your first instalment.
We accept applications from 19th September 2016 when the scheme opens up until the closing dates listed below. We aim to notify decisions within four working weeks but the assessment times vary depending on the number and complexity of applications we receive, so leave yourself plenty of time to wait for your assessment to be completed.
Closing dates by which applications must be submitted
Please note it is your responsibility to ensure that your application reaches the Student Financial Support team by the closing date.If you are posting your form you must ensure you leave sufficient time for it to arrive and pay sufficient postage to cover the cost. . If you submit your application form to the Student Hub then you must ensure that you request a receipt of this submission. Applications received after the closing date and time will not be assessed.
|How will my application be assessed?
We follow strict guidelines when we assess your application. The fund is cash-limited and the allocation we receive decreases each year. Not everyone who applies to the scheme will get an award. Any awards made can only be a contribution towards costs and are subject to the availability of funds.
When we assess your application we will look at your income and expenditure over the course of the academic year.
On top of this we are required to include a set figure called 'assumed income' which includes set amounts for certain forms of income. The Government expects that in addition to the statutory support (student loans, grants etc) you receive you will be able to add to this income with part time and vacation work, savings and overdrafts. Regardless of what the actual figures are for these items, only the assumed income figure can be used.
|Will you take into account my debts?
Many students find it difficult to manage on the statutory support they receive and often incur debts as a result, but we cannot include all debts. What we can include depends if your debt is classed as a Priority or Non-Priority. Only Priority Debts with agreed repayment plans will be considered under the ALF.
|How long will it take?
Your application will progress through a three stage process.
STAGE 1Applications received will be checked-in by Student Financial Support staff. The application is checked to make sure that:
We aim to email you within three working days of submitting your application form to confirm the status of your application. If your application is incomplete, your application will be delayed at Stage 1 and we will contact you using your MMU student email account to advise you on what is needed to progress your application onto Stage 2 for assessment.
Once your application has been confirmed as complete your application enters Stage 2. We will notify you via your MMU student email account to confirm the date it has entered Stage 2. We aim to notify you of the outcome of your application within four working weeks of this date.
During Stage 2, an assessor may need to contact you for further information to help them complete the assessment. Please check your student emails regularly. When Stage 2 is completed, your application will move to Stage 3.
Decisions on the outcome of your application will be notified by email to your MMU student email address. If your application is successful, information will also be included regarding the payment of your award.
The assessment time will vary depending on the complexity and number of applications received and at peak times such as the end of term around the closing dates.
Please bear with us, we aim to assess forms as quickly as we can.
|How much will I get?
Not everybody who applies to the scheme will get an award. If your application is assessed to receive an award we will write to you with details of how much and when you will be paid. The assessment process will take into account your income and expenditure as detailed above, and if there is a shortfall we will make a contribution towards this.
|How will I get paid?
Payments are made by BACs which is an electronic transfer of funds into your bank account. The application form asks for your bank account details, please note we can only pay your award into an account bearing your name. If your application is successful and you receive an award we will write to tell you when the money will be paid into your account. If your total award is over £500 this will be paid to you over the number of terms remaining. For example if you are notified in November and your award is greater than £500 you will receive your award in three instalments. If you are notified in February you will receive your award in two instalments. Please note we do encourage you to apply as early as possible, as the ALF is a cash limited fund there is no guarantee that there will be funds still available in the final term.
We will pay any second or third instalments you are due once we have received confirmation from your Programmes Office of your continued attendance and engagement with your course. The payment dates are on or around 27th January 2017 in the spring term and on or around 12th May 2017 in the summer term, subject to receipt of confirmation of attendance. We will email your MMU student email account if we have not received this confirmation and you are not due to be paid on these dates.
|Can I apply every year?
Yes, but bear in mind that the outcome of your application may not be the same year on year. The amount of funding we receive from the Government decreases year on year so the amount we can allocate to students is also reduced.