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Support to help you study when ill or disabled

If you’ve become ill or disabled and have to temporarily stop your studies, it’s possible to take time off without having to give up altogether. And if you’re thinking of starting a new course, you can apply for financial help with the extra costs of being a disabled student.

Taking time out of your studies

If you need to take up to 60 days’ absence

If you become ill or disabled in the middle of a course and are unable to study, tell your university or college as soon as possible.

You can be absent from your course for 60 days without it affecting your entitlement to financial support as a student.

What happens after 60 days’ absence

After 60 days, your university or college usually notifies your funding provider and they stop your loan or grant payments.

If you don’t want to leave your course and you’re facing extreme hardship because your loan and grant instalments aren’t being paid, you can:

  • speak to your funding provider about extended loan instalments
  • speak to your university or college – they might be able to help you with hardship funding.

Your funding body can decide to extend the support available to you if you need to temporarily stop or repeat your studies because of ill health.

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Student finance

The financial help available to you varies depending on where in the UK you live and where you study.

Loans and grants break down into the following main areas:

  • a Tuition Fee Loan – which pays your course fees.
  • a Maintenance Loan (for full-time students only) – which helps with living costs, such as accommodation, books and bills.
  • a Maintenance Grant (for full-time students whose course started before 1 August 2016 only) – which also helps with living costs.
  • extra help for disabled students (see below).

The Maintenance Grant doesn’t have to be paid back, but the loans do.

Since the 2016/17 academic year, Maintenance Grants have been replaced with a loan system. This means you’ll need to make repayments.

Estimate what funding you might get using the student finance calculator on the GOV.UK website

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Extra financial support for disabled students

A Disabled Students’ Allowance is designed to help with the extra costs involved with being a disabled student.

For example:

  • buying specialist equipment, such as computer software
  • paying for non-medical helpers, such as a note-taker or reader
  • helping with extra travel costs because of your disability.

You can apply for one if any of the following apply to you:

  • you’re disabled
  • you have a mental health condition
  • you have a long-term health condition
  • you have a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia.

A Disabled Students’ Allowance is paid on top of your other student finance. And you don’t have to pay it back.

How much you get depends on your individual needs – not on your income, or your parents or partner.

If you live in England

Find out more about the Disabled Students’ Allowance on the GOV.UK website

If you live in Wales

Find out more about the Disabled Students’ Allowance on the Student Finance Wales website

If you live in Scotland

Find out more about the Disabled Students’ Allowance on the Student Awards Agency for Scotland website

If you live in Northern Ireland

Find out more about the Disabled Students’ Allowance on the Student Finance NI website

Funding from charitable trusts

If you can’t get the money you need to do a course from a funding body or the state, you might be able to apply to a trust to fund your studies.

Who they decide to award money to varies from trust to trust. So you need to spend time going through the rules for each one.

Find out more about educational funding from charitable trusts on the Disability Rights UK website

Disability support services and reasonable adjustments

All colleges and universities have an officer or department responsible for disabled student services.

It’s a good idea to contact them before deciding where you want to study, then again before you start your course.

They are also the people to talk to if you need any reasonable adjustments to your course or place of study to make them fully accessible to you.

It’s your legal right to ask for these adjustments. They can include:

  • a reader or scribe in exams
  • specific accommodation arrangements
  • access to all college and campus facilities
  • assistive technology, such as computer equipment and specialist software.

Find out more about adjustments for disabled students on the Disability Rights UK website

More information for disabled students

See a full list of educational factsheets on the Disability Rights UK website

For more information for disabled students, go to the UCAS website

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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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