Siobhan and Tania from our Advice and Money Team explains what students need to do to apply for their placement year funding …
It’s that time of year again when you have to reapply for your funding. If you are on a Sandwich course, the application this time will be slightly different because next academic year you will be on a placement year. We get a lot of queries in the Advice and Money Team from students who are on placement and their funding isn’t correct. We are here to help you get it right first time or to guide you if things go wrong!
Tip 1: Apply for funding in time
We know it’s not the most exciting thing to do: filling in your student finance application, but if you do it early enough you will know exactly how much you are eligible for and when it will be paid, before the placement starts. This can help you budget and plan other things such as how much rent you can afford. If you have applied early and there are problems, you also have plenty of time to sort it out before starting the placement.
The application cycle for Student Finance Wales and Student Finance England is now open. You need to know where your placement will be when you apply. If you don’t know by April, don’t worry. You have until mid-June to apply and still get your money on time in September. You can still prepare for the application by talking to your parents and get them to collect all the financial details of their income ready so when you know your placement, you are good to go.
Tip 2: Double check what funding you are entitled to
How much funding you could be eligible for depend on the type of placement you will be doing. It’s a popular misconception that all unpaid placements attract full funding. This is not true. You have to be undertaking certain “unpaid service” placement to be eligible for full means tested funding. “Unpaid service” placements include:
• Unpaid research in a Higher Educational institution in the UK or overseas or
• Unpaid work in a Local Authority or Voluntary organisation in the UK working within health, welfare or care of children and young people or
• Unpaid work in a Hospital / Public Health Laboratory or Primary Care Trust in the UK or
• Unpaid work in a Prison or Probation and aftercare service in the UK or
• Unpaid work in a Strategic Health Authority / Local Health Board / Special Health Board / Health and Social Services Board or
• Unpaid work at the Houses of Parliament
If your placement does not come under one of the above categories, you will only be eligible for a reduced non means tested Maintenance Loan. Further information can be found on our intranet pages.
For Student Finance to assess you as being on an Unpaid Service Placement (so you get your full Maintenance Loan and Grant (SFW only)) you must send them a letter from your Placement Co-ordinator confirming it is an “unpaid service” placement. If you don’t send them a letter, they will automatically assess you for the reduced non means tested Maintenance Loan only.
Tip 3: Get the fees right
You need to tell Student Finance on the application how much tuition fees you are charged in order for them to assess you correctly. For the majority of Placement Years, you are charged 20% of the usual fee. For “home” students this is £1,800. The only exception is those on an Erasmus year where you are charged 15% of the normal fee, which is £1,350 for “home” students. To check how much fees you are charged, you can check the intranet Tuition Fee pages.
Tip 4: If your Placement Year is Abroad, do not tick to say you are Studying Abroad
We get a few queries every year from students who are undertaking their PTY abroad but student finance think they are studying abroad. You are studying abroad if you are enrolled at another university and going to lectures etc and handing work to that university. If you are undertaking a placement year at another university but conducting research, you are not studying at that university, you are on an unpaid research placement. The only exception to this rule is students studying Chemistry with a Year Abroad. Although you will be undertaking unpaid research at an overseas university, you are registered as students through the International Exchange scheme in Global Opportunities and will need to undertake distant learning modules with Cardiff University so you are treated as Studying Abroad. This mistake can cause problems because Student Finance will not pay the correct fee on your behalf to the university. If you make this mistake, it can be solved, but it will be less stressful for you by getting it right the first time.
Please be aware that you will not be eligible for a Travel Grant if you undertake a work placement abroad. The only exception is if the work placement falls under the Erasmus+ scheme.
Tip 5: If in doubt contact us!
If you want to double check your eligibility for funding or want help with the application process, please get in contact with the Advice and Money Team. We are situated on the 3rd Floor of the Student Union Building, in Student Support and we are open Monday to Friday 9-4. Make the most of us before you go on your placement. If you need to contact us while you are on your placement, please call 029 2087 4844 or e-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do encounter problems with Student Finance while on placement, we can help you. In most cases we will need to speak to Student Finance to find out what the issue is and how we can resolve it. Student Finance will not speak to us without you first giving permission to do so. You can find out how to give permission and set up consent to share on our intranet pages. If you anticipate there might be problems with your funding, it is worth setting up consent to share before you start your placement. This is especially true if your placement is abroad as time differences can make communicating with Student Finance difficult and it can be expensive from overseas. If consent to share has been set up, we can call Student Finance on your behalf.
Siobhan and Tania, Advice and Money Team
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