Northumberland College

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1 Northumberland College 24+ Loans Bursary Dissemination Guidance

2 CONTENTS Page Purpose Advanced learning Loans Bursary Fund 2 Discretionary Learner Support Details 3 Assessment of Applications 5 Types of Assistance 7 Payments 9 Attendance Requirements 10 Appeals 11 Students Who Withdraw 12 False or Fraudulent Claims 13

3 Please contact Maureen Charlton on or if you have any questions about all or part of this document. Please note: This policy applies to Skills Funding Agency (SFA) funded students only and should be read in conjunction with Funding Rules 2013/14 published by the SFA. 1. Purpose It is the intention of Northumberland College to ensure that all students receive appropriate support from the relevant sources. This document sets out how the College uses its 24+ Advanced Learning Loans Bursary Fund (LBF) allocation to support students financially. Guidance relating to other funds is available separately Advanced Learning Loans Bursary Fund LBF is a financial assistance fund comprising of 24+ discretionary, childcare, residential and additional learning support funds provided by the SFA. The fund is intended to be used for students facing financial hardship to help with essential course related costs such as equipment, books, travel, essential trips, attending HE interviews, rent, and childcare for students aged 24 and over and in receipt of a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan. Applications for support are considered individually to ensure that those who are most in need receive help. Due to the nature of an individual s circumstances, consideration for assistance will be given according to need. Discretionary awards will be granted based on the information provided. Funds will only be granted where a genuine need for assistance has been demonstrated. Not all applications will be successful. Wherever possible the College will purchase the necessary equipment, books or materials and supply these to the successful applicant. Where this is not possible funding will be provided on a termly basis and will be subject to satisfactory attendance. If attendance falls below the College target (90%), financial assistance will be withheld. Tutors will be consulted regarding assessment of progress and attendance to determine whether to continue with the financial assistance. In some cases financial support will be withdrawn following consultation with Tutors. LBF cannot be used to compensate for a student s failure to apply for other sources of support that may be available to them. Assistance will only be granted during term time and will not normally be considered for support during holiday periods. The procedures for the allocation of LBF aim to be clear, transparent and consistently administered.

4 3. Discretionary Learner Support Details 3.1. Eligibility General eligibility criteria Students must be aged 24 or over on the first day of the course Students must be enrolled to an eligible course; eligible courses are those for which a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan is payable; awards will not be made to students who are not enrolled, or where an enrolment is pending Students must be in receipt of a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan; awards will not be made to students who have not applied for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan or where a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan has been refused Students studying a non-loans funded course will not be eligible for any 24+ Bursary Funding Students must be able to demonstrate financial hardship; evidence of income is required The College reserves the right to make awards to students who appear to be outside the financial criteria, based on individual and exceptional circumstances Students must meet the residency and other eligibility criteria as set out in the SFA s Funding Rules 2013/14. Where awards are subject to financial assessment the maximum household income is 20,817 for the Academic Year Childcare funding The student s child(ren) must be placed in Ofsted-registered childcare The student must not be claiming the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits for their learning. Where students are already in receipt of funded nursery places only hours of childcare over and above 15 hours will be paid Residential Access Funds Students must be aged 24 or over on the first day of their course Students must be starting a new course during the 2013/14 academic year Students must live more than 15 miles or a one hour commute (in each direction) from College, with no established travel route The course must not be available more locally to the student s normal address A maximum award of per Calendar Month will be paid to those learners meeting the financial assessment criteria.

5 3.2. Assessment of Applications All applications for funding will be considered against set criteria as laid out in this document. Every effort will be made to look at each application on its own merits. In extenuating circumstances the College Funding Appeals Panel reserve the right to make awards to individual students who do not necessarily meet all of the listed criteria. The Panel will meet on a regular basis, or as the need arises; at least three members of the Panel will be required to make a decision. The College aims to ensure that the funds available to support students are: distributed wisely and fairly allocated according to individual need, taking into account each individuals' own circumstances used to widen access to, and participation in, Further and Higher Education used to support priority groups as defined by the SFA and as appropriate to the local area. The College, via the Funding Appeals Panel, and subject to stated maximum levels of funding will, in addition to income assessment, assess support for students on an individual basis. The Funding Appeals Panel will take into account all the evidence presented to them by the student about their personal financial circumstances, plus any relevant background information gathered by a Student Services Advisor or Practitioner working with the student. In addition, income assessment will be used to ensure applicants fall within the criteria. All information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence Income assessment Where a student lives with a partner, the income of both the student and the student s partner will be used. Where a student lives with parents, each case will be assessed individually to decide whether the student is dependent on their parents or not. Students in receipt of, or dependent on someone in receipt of, income-assessed benefits will be awarded the highest level of funding. Where a student s household income changes during the academic year, the student may apply to be reassessed based on the new household income Required evidence All applications will be checked against the Student Loans Company Learner Provider Portal or the College s internal records for evidence of an approved 24+ Advanced Learning Loan. All applications require evidence of income to be provided. Evidence may include: Form TC602 dated from April 2013 (all pages) Photocopies of latest 5 (weekly) or 2 (monthly) payslips A letter from current employer as proof of wage P60 issued by current employer dated April 2013 Photocopies of benefit award letter or bank statement no more than 3 months old Details of accounts for self-employment. In addition, applications for childcare funding must include the student s TC Funding priorities Financial assistance for students will be prioritised and administered by the College in accordance with 'best practice' as defined by the SFA and other relevant organisations such as The Association of Colleges (AoC), National Association Managers of Student Services (NAMSS), and National Association of Student

6 Money Advisors (NASMA). The SFA funding priorities are students who: have learning difficulties or disabilities are parents who need help with childcare are ex-military personnel Further to this, the College funding priorities are: those in care or who have recently left care those facing significant financial pressures, for example those on a recognised debt management plan those with caring responsibilities young parents. With reference to the above priorities, funding will be awarded to those students who are economically or socially disadvantaged and need support with transport, childcare or associated learning costs and are facing financial difficulty Notification of award Students will normally be notified in writing of the outcome of their application within 14 days of submission. Students will normally be notified by .

7 3.3. Types of Assistance through the Fund In exceptional circumstances the college Funding Appeals Panel reserve the right to make awards to individual students who do not necessarily meet all of the listed criteria or offer support other than that listed below Materials, equipment & clothing Assistance with the cost of equipment, materials or protective clothing will be considered where items are deemed necessary by the Head of Faculty and/or by Health & Safety Regulations. These awards will be payment in kind up to a maximum value of 150. If the cost of equipment is more than 150 learners will be expected to pay the difference Travel assistance Travel assistance is available for students who Live more than 1 miles from college as measured by the shortest, safest walking route and/or Special consideration will be given to Students who have additional travel or mobility needs due to a disability or learning difficulty Students who have caring responsibilities which means they need to be able to return home quickly. Travel Assistance will be limited to a maximum of per week for full time students and 7.50 for part time students. Travel Assistance is subject to financial assessment Childcare Assistance may be granted towards the cost of childcare for eligible students with dependent children aged up to 14 years (16 for children with a disability) for whom care is needed whilst they attend college and where it has been established that no other support is being received and the other parent/partner cannot provide this support. Assistance can only be offered for the duration of the course. Funding will be limited to a maximum of 250 per calendar month. The 24+ Advanced Learning Loans Bursary Fund will not pay for childcare if the student is absent from college without good reason; in such cases the student will be expected to pay 100% of the cost of the childcare for the duration of the absence. Students who are continually absent from college and who continue to use their childcare place will have their funding withdrawn and will be sanctioned according to the college disciplinary procedure. Payment to family members or friends, or other providers who are not registered will not normally be considered. Individual applications for such support should be discussed with Student Services. All students supported with childcare costs are expected to pay for all ancillary charges e.g. meals, nappies, trips out etc. The 24+ Advanced learning Loans Bursary Fund will not normally be used to fund study sessions; however, this will be revised during the summer term if there is sufficient budget available Books Books will be available on long term loan for all learners who meet the financial assessment criteria. Books that are not essential or are recommended reading only will not be provided to students.

8 Books will be issed via the LRC and learners will be expected to return their books when their course finishes. Learners who do not return their books will be sent reminder letters and failure to return the books may affect future funding Learning Support Type Activity Learning support will be assessed and awarded by the Additional Learning Support Department in accordance with their policies and procedures and in line with the College s duty under the Equality Act Additional Learning Support which can be provided includes: Diagnostic assessments Learning Support Assistants in group sessions 1:1 out of class support Mentoring/Counselling Special Exam arrangements Visual Stress assessment and support Loan of essential equipment for the course available in the LRC Provision of support is not subject to financial assessment. However, it is subject to a maximum allocation of per calendar month.

9 4. Payments Payments for travel support will normally be one month in arrears and will be subject to attendance checks. Payments for Childcare will be paid monthly in arrears direct to the Childcarer.

10 5. Attendance Conditions If attendance falls below the College target of 90% on-going funding will be withheld. However, we will take into account all personal circumstances when determining satisfactory attendance.

11 6. Appeals 6.1. Funding Appeals Procedure All applicants to the 24+ Advanced Learning Loans bursary Fund have the right of appeal. Any student wishing to appeal should write to the Head of Student Services and Learner Support within 10 working days of being notified of the initial outcome, stating clearly the reasons for appeal and giving any additional details about the circumstances the student thinks should be taken into consideration. Appeals will be considered by members of the Funding Appeals Panel. Notification of the outcome of the appeal will be within 10 working days of the Panel meeting taking place. Students who disagree with the outcome of the appeal and believe that their application has not been assessed in accordance with the policy, can then follow the formal complaints procedure Funding Appeals Panel The College Funding Appeals Panel will consist of: Vice Principal for Curriculum Head of Student Services and Learner Support(Chair) InfoZone Supervisor Senior Mentor Three members of the Panel will normally be required for a decision to be made. The Chair may co-opt a suitable college manager to the Panel as required.

12 7. Students Who Withdraw Students who receive an award and later withdraw from their course may be asked to repay their award. Where the Funding Appeals Panel decides to request repayment of an award, this will be pursued through the Finance Department. Students who chose not to repay, or do not reply to the correspondence will not be funded in future years without agreement from the Funding Appeals Panel. Where a student contacts Student Services and/or the Finance Department to say that they are unable to repay the support, the Funding Appeals Panel will meet to discuss the case.

13 8. False or Fraudulent Applications Where students are found to have intentionally given misleading or inaccurate information the College will claim back the award made. Providing false statements may result in the student being sanctioned in accordance with the College Disciplinary Policy and/or prosecution. In accordance with the College s Fraud Policy, a record will be made of fraudulent incidents, and subsequent actions taken. These incidents will be reported to the Senior Management Team both as they occur and through an annual report.

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