Managing your money, Preparing for your future

Top tips for getting your funding right for your placement year

Einir England from our Advice & 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!


1. Apply for funding in time

We know filling in your student finance application is not the most exciting thing to do, 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.

You can now apply for funding. You have until mid-June to apply and still get your money on time in September.


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* (to get a Maintenance Grant and means tested Maintenance Loan). “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) 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.


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.


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.


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 top floor of the Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place 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 (02920 874844) or e-mail us:

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.


Your feedback and help please

Have you found this blog post useful?  Please help us by commenting in the comments bar below, and  if there is anything further you’d like to know ask your questions there too.

We’d also be grateful if you can share this information by re-tweeting or sharing with your fellow students who may find this useful – you can do this by using the share buttons or via twitter and facebook.


Best wishes,
Einir, Advice & Money Team.

Your Student Life, Supported.

The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and MoneyCareers and EmployabilityCounselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support. The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.


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