Earn upto £3,500 for 30 minutes work!!! 'Access to Learning Fund'


I'm until very recently was a manager of a University Advice Centre & also an Education & Welfare officer so you might be interested to know that there is FREE money available to quite a few students upto a maximum of £3,500 per academic year.

Most students at some point will have heard of the 'hardship fund'. This was re-branded the 'Access to Learning Fund' [ALF] a year`or so ago [it may be called something slightly different at every Uni].

Each Uni is given a few £100k per year [dependant on student numbers] to support students financially. I know (as a former member of an ALF reward committee) that every Uni is struggeling to give the remainder of thier money away - if they don't distribute it they have to give it back to the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) at the end of the academic year.

Needless to say they are desperate to give the money away, they are looking for anyone who meets the criteria of the fund.

It is a bit too lenghty to go into detail here but the general concept is that any student with children or dependants & students with disabilities are highly likely to receive an award (none repayable).

Then any student with an overdraft or 'priority debt' will most likely recieve something also (none repayable). A priority debt is either rent/mortgage arrears or a debt secured against your home NOT credit & store cards.

The form takes about 30 minutes to complete and requires you to provide details of your income & expenditure (don't worry if you have more coming in than out as they disregard any part time work - if you chose to work you should not be penalised for it). The fund also omits some types of expenditure mainly things like mobile phone bills & internet costs as these are not deemed 'essentials' - basically they do not reward students who CHOOSE to have an expensive lifestyle.

Even though it is near the end of the academic year they can, in some cases, back date payment to the start of the academic year. They also have a sub-fund called the Summer Fund that allows students to apply for finincial support through out the summer (this only applies to students continuing thier studies on the same course in September - i.e. if you have just finished your undergraduate & are starting you post-graduate in Sept unfortuntley you will not be eligible even if it is at the same Uni).

The forms, with completion guidance, are available from every student finance office & student advice centre. Most Unis also have the form available to download from thier website. I can't stress enough go pick one up & fill it in - they do ask for photocopies of three months bank statements as evidence so don't lie too much on the form!

I would seriously apply even if you think that your not that bad off as like I said they are desperate to give it away.




  • Karnam
    Karnam Posts: 1,177 Forumite
    this is 100% true (and here was me thinking you might be a spammer)

    i applied last easter as no one would employ me as a pregnant woman and my OH couldnt get benefits as he's a student too. its a bit of an extensive form but its really worth while to apply.

    edit: plus you're not ripping anyone off, if the money isnt used up, then the uni gets less money for the next year, and then what would happen to people who actually need it next year?!

    its like civil servents spending all thier department budget on paperclips so that it isnt reducded the next year.
    :A Boots Tart :A
  • I've head about these also, I knew a guy who recieved some money for rent from this.. they won't automatically give you the most possible unless you can prove you really, really need it and have no other way of getting money
  • robhammond
    robhammond Posts: 63 Forumite
    That isn't entirely true - I have advised many many students on doing it even when they are not absolutely desperate and they have been rewarded.

    The Uni's can be a little prudent at the beginning of the academic year because they have little way of knowing what the demand will be through out the year. Certainley in the last two years by easter they were giving as much away as they could - as by now the really really hard up students have applied.

    The fund is partially descretionary so make an effort to explain your case. The criteria is also not as strict as it used to be - I know they used to almost demand blood from you!! It really is worth trying, the potential rewards far outweigh the time it takes to fill the form in.

    Ask an adviser at your Uni to help with the form, as we know what buttons to press with the awards commitee!

    Here is a link that gives a bit more general information

  • eco21
    eco21 Posts: 262 Forumite
    Does this apply to Scotland aswell?
  • Are postgraduate students entitled to it?
  • robhammond
    robhammond Posts: 63 Forumite

    eco21 - not entirely sure as i worked in an English Uni but I'm pretty sure they will or something very similar.

    crazyscientist - yes postgraduates can apply, note though it cannot be used to subsidise you tuition fee costs only rent, general living expenses etc.

  • ciano125
    ciano125 Posts: 492
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I applied for this because myself and my girlfriend were in a bit of difficulty (I'm a mature student and we were paying the mortgage on her wage) but because I work one day a week they said I couldnt have anything. So I now have three credit cards and two overdrafts as well as my student loan. Access to Learning fund my !!!!!!.

    I agree with the other poster who said people who didnt need it had applied and got money too, guess it just depends on how convincing a liar you are, I told the truth and got nothing even though I needed it.

    Rant over, thanks!
  • Humph, I need a video player for my course, but haven't got one. haven't got a tv either. so obviously havent got a tv licence. Was told I couldnt have the funding cos its not part of my course. Have sent the details back with the syllabus which clearly states I need it for the course. Better luck this time I suppose!
    The !!!!!! of it is I DONT WANT A TV!!!!
  • robhammond
    robhammond Posts: 63 Forumite
    ciano125 - If you are still at Uni, it really would be worth appealing the descision. The vast majority of appeals that I have dealt with in the past were successful. The finance officer in the Student Finance Office is only allowed to match cases to a rather inflexible criteria. However the appeals committee has rather more descretion & can award 'one off' payments or indeed over turn the Finance Officer's descision.

    I would recommend speaker to a student advisor in your Students' Union about your specific case, they will be very clued up on the appeals mechanism - it is as simple as writing a letter but knowing what to say.

    If you were still not awarded anything I would be very surprised.

    Good Luck!
  • Lady_K
    Lady_K Posts: 4,429
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    My Daughter is a Student Nurse and recieves a bursary but she went directly from graduating last year at a different uni to a new 3 year course at another uni so she had used up all her overdraft during the first course and found it extremely difficult as she had no fall back money to start with on this one. The halls costs and everything else are so high plus high car insurance but she needs the car to get to placements

    She got to the stage of having no money at all and borrowing every month just to get by. She applied for the access to learning fund at the end of January. They awarded her £850 in one payment for the year, she got it in her bank in Feb. Would she have missed out by applying late as they said its one payment not the usual split into two.

    What does she have to do to get the summer fund? Do you think she might still get that as her bursary continues through till she returns in sept. They spread it out over 12 months rather than the 3 payments like the loans do. Will they still require bank statements and things for the summer fund?

    At her last University she got the access to learning award then at the end of the uni year they sent her some extra money for what they said was accomodation costs it was about £500, maybe they were getting rid of extra money? Also during the summer holidays they sent her a letter saying she was entitled to the summer fund £500 but would only recieve this when she re-enrolled after the summer in september to show she was continuing the course. So at that uni she didn't have to apply for it

    She has also found her next placement is going to be approx 1 hour travel each way as they cannot find anymore local hospitals for placements now. Could she get anything for that?

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