Student Finance Procedures

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1 Student Finance Procedures

2 Financial Support for Students Contents 1 Introduction 2 Policy Background 3 Confidentiality 4 Deadlines for Bursary Applications 5 1,200 Guaranteed Bursary for year olds 6 Discretionary Student Bursary for year olds (DSB) 7 Discretionary Learner Support Fund (DLSF) for 19+ Students 8a 8b 9a 9b 24+ Advanced Learning Loans and 24+ Loans Bursary Fund 24+ Advanced Learning Loan Childcare Support Advice for the Childcare Provider 10 Care to Learn 11 Fees (Tuition) 12 Evidence requirements 13 Emergency Funds 14 Appeals 15 Other sources of financial support 16 Application forms 17 Application Decisions 18 Repayments 19 Application checklists 20 Higher Education Funding 21 Policy Statement 22 Examples of Unauthorised Absence 23 Bursary Eligibility for Students from Outside the UK Euan McCall July

3 1 Introduction Abingdon & Witney College is committed to supporting students from all financial backgrounds and personal circumstances with their studies. Our package of financial support is designed to empower students who are eligible to access education by offering them extra help with course related costs. The type of support varies from regular payments directly to some students to one-off payments to help with items such as course materials, transport and essential trips. Our Student Finance policies and procedures are outlined below to explain what provision is on offer, and how we reach our decisions regarding eligibility. The policy is aimed at all students at Abingdon & Witney College. In particular we will aim to outline policies and guidance on the following: The 1,200 Guaranteed Student Bursary (GSB) The Discretionary Student Bursary (DSB) The Discretionary Learner Support Fund for 19+ students (DLSF) The Discretionary Advanced Learning Loans Bursary for 24+ Students who are funding their qualification via a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan (24+ALLB) Discretionary Childcare provision for Students 20+ Care to Learn for Students Advanced Learning Loans 2 Policy Background Abingdon & Witney College arrangements for student finance are based on guidelines from three Government agencies, the Education Funding Agency (EFA), the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Student Loans Company (SLC). Advice from these agencies underpins many of the college s procedures. In particular, guidance from the EFA relates to the 1,200 Guaranteed Bursary, the Discretionary Student Bursary (DSB) and Care to Learn. The SFA oversee the Learner Support Fund for 19+ students, Childcare funding for 20+ students and policies and procedures for the 24+ Loans Bursary Fund. The SLC oversee the 24+ Learner Loan system.

4 3 Confidentiality Personal information shared with Student Services regarding financial support will be treated sensitively and kept securely. Any evidence (eg original documents enclosed with applications) will be returned to the student at the earliest opportunity. Hard copies of records are kept and will be needed for auditing purposes. They will be archived for six years by the college and then destroyed in accordance with the college s Data Protection Policy. 4 Deadlines for Bursary Applications In order to be considered for support, bursary applications must reach Student Services at either the Abingdon or Witney campus by Tuesday 30 September 2014 or within three weeks of the start of your course, whichever is later. 5 1,200 Guaranteed Bursary for year olds (GBF) The 1,200 Guaranteed Bursary is only available to those who the Government feel are the most vulnerable or disadvantaged learners. Eligible students aged under 19 on 31 August 2014 will be entitled to an award of 1,200 over the academic year*. This will be used for; course materials, books, transport, equipment, uniform and essential trips. Once these payments have been made there are usually funds remaining for a regular weekly payment, paid directly to the student, to support them with their education. Any regular awards are dependent on satisfactory attendance for the previous week. Those eligible for the bursary are: In care or a care leaver Receiving income support or universal credits in their own right. This could be because they are living on their own or are a young parent Getting both employment support allowance and disability living allowance (or personal independence payments, which is replacing disability living allowance) Students requiring help with transport through the 1,200 Guaranteed Bursary will have to meet the criteria above to be eligible and to live more than three miles from the main campus. For Students eligible for the 1,200 Guaranteed Bursary the college will fund eligible s tudents 100% for their bus passes, and will order them directly from the bus companies on their behalf. The bus passes ordered and routes are at the discretion of the college. Please note that the college will consider other travel arrangements on a discretionary basis. To apply for the 1,200 Guaranteed Bursary please contact the Student Services team at the Abingdon or Witney campus.

5 Students receiving weekly payments, will be paid one week in arrears for each week they are in college. These awards will not be paid for any week in which the s tudent has one or more days of unauthorised absence. Students will be expected to inform the college if they are going to be late or absent for any reason. We require all students to complete a Bankers Automated Clearing System (BACS) form detailing their bank details, as the awards will be paid directly into the student s bank account. It is essential that all forms are returned signed, with appropriate income evidence and with an explanation of why and what help is required. For further information on the evidence required, please see section 12. Students must inform Student Services as soon as possible if there are any changes in their personal circumstances. *Students on courses of less than 30 weeks, those who become eligible during the year or those on part time courses will get a pro rata award (a proportional payment based on the amount of time spent in college over the academic year). *We can only provide financial support for eligible students for courses where the second letter of the course code is F, P or D. Course codes with a second letter of S are seen as self-funding courses. 6 Discretionary Student Bursary for year olds (DSB) Some of our students aged under 19 on 31 August 2014, from households on low incomes or on benefits, may be eligible for the DSB. This is a fund which supports s tudents with important course related costs, for example course materials, fees, books, equipment, uniform, essential trips and transport. Students will be eligible for help from the bursary if they received free school meals in (assuming personal circumstances remain the same in ) and/or if their parent/s or carer/s earned income is below 21,000 gross a year or their parent/s or carer/s receive one of the following benefits: Income Support. Housing Benefit. Jobseeker s Allowance. Employment and Support Allowance. Universal Credits Pension Credit. Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit on an income up to 21,000 gross a year.

6 After the initial award any future awards throughout the academic year, for example in Terms 2 and 3, are based on a minimum attendance of 90%. In exceptional financial circumstances where there is a need, we may be able to help the student, even if their parent/s or carer/s income is above 21,000 gross a year. Students requiring transport help through the bursary will have to meet the criteria above to be eligible, and live more than three miles from their main campus. The college aims to fund eligible students 100% for their transport to college. Student requiring a bus pass need to order their bus pass directly from the bus company. Any award from the bursary for transport will be paid directly into the student s bank account. Please note that we will consider other travel arrangements on a discretionary basis. Students ineligible for the Student Bursary are expected to order their own bus passes directly from the bus company, independently from college. For more information on appropriate bus companies please visit our website at To apply for the Discretionary Bursary Fund, students will need to use the Student Bursary Application Form The application forms for the bursary are available via the following link to our website: It is essential that all forms are returned signed, with appropriate income evidence and with an explanation of why and what help is required. For further information on the evidence required, please see section 12. All students must inform Student Services as soon as possible if there is a change in their personal circumstances. *We can only provide financial support for eligible students for courses where the second letter of the course code is F, P or D. Course codes with a second letter of S are seen as self-funding courses. 7 Discretionary Learner Support Fund for 19+ Students (DLSF) Some students aged 19+ on 31 August 2014 from households on low incomes or benefits, may be eligible for help from the DLSF. This fund can support students with important course related costs, for example, course materials, transport, books, equipment, uniform, essential trips and in exceptional circumstances, a small percentage towards tuition fees. This is a discretionary bursary and the college will assess students based on their personal circumstances.

7 Students will be eligible for help from the DLSF if they are single and their income is less than 16,000 gross a year, or if they have a partner and their joint income is less than 25,000 gross a year and/or they receive one of the following benefits: Income Support Housing Benefit Pension Credit Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit combined with a low income Jobseeker s Allowance Employment and Support Allowance Universal Credits After the initial award any future awards throughout the academic year, for example in Terms 2 and 3, are based on a minimum attendance of 90%. In exceptional financial circumstances and where there is need, we may be able to help the student even if their income is above 16,000 gross a year if they are single or, 25,000 gross a year if they have a partner. To apply for the 19+ Learner Support Fund, s tudents will need to use the 19+ Learner Support Fund Application Form The application forms for the bursary are available via the following link to our website: It is essential that all forms are returned signed, with appropriate income evidence and with an explanation of why and what help is needed. For further information on the evidence required, please see section 12. All students must inform Student Services as soon as possible if there are any changes in their personal circumstances. *We can only provide financial support for eligible Students for courses where the second letter of the course code is F, P or D. Course codes with a second letter of S are seen as self-funding courses. 8a 24+ Advanced Learning Loans Bursary Fund (24+ALLB) The 24+ Loans Bursary Fund (24+ALLB) is aimed at students who have been approved for 24+ Advanced Learning Loan during the academic year, from households on low incomes or benefits. This fund can support students with course related costs, for example, transport to College and Childcare. This is a discretionary bursary and the college will assess students based on their personal circumstances. (Other course costs eg essential kit, equipment, uniforms, registrations (AAT for example) and trips will be covered by the loan so will not need funding from the 24+ALLB.) Students will be eligible for help from the 24+ALLB if they are single and their

8 income is less than 16,000 gross a year, or if they have a partner and their joint income is less than 25,000 gross a year and/or they receive one of the following benefits: Income Support Housing Benefit Pension Credits Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit combined with a low income Employment and Support Allowance Universal Credits 8b 24+ Advanced Learning Loans (24+ALL) The 24+ALL is a Government led initiative which is administered by the Student Loans Company (SLC). More information on the 24+ALL is available via the following link https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learning-loans. All decisions on 24+ Advanced Learning Loan applications are at the discretion of the SLC. Students receiving a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan, can only apply for the 24+ALLB. They are not allowed to apply for other forms of bursary funding, eg the 19+ Learner Support Fund, due to Government guidelines. Students who do not take out a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan and pay the college directly for their course are also not permitted to apply for any college bursaries. 9a Childcare Support Once it has been shown that the student is eligible for the DLSF, learners can also apply for help with childcare costs. Students may be able to access financial help with childcare up to a maximum of 160 a week per child. The childcare provider has to be registered with Ofsted for this to apply. The DLSF is aimed at parents aged 20+ at the start of their course. Students aged should access the Care to Learn scheme for support with childcare. Please see section 10 for details. Students will need to fill in the Childcare Agreement Terms and Conditions form and ask the childcare provider to complete the Childcare Provider Information form. These forms are available from Student Services at Abingdon & Witney campuses. Completed forms should be handed in to Student Services or posted to the address below. The Student Finance Panel C/o Student Services Abingdon & Witney College Wootton Road ABINGDON OX14 1GG

9 Our terms and conditions for childcare support needs to be signed by the student and the document includes the following statements: 1 I am enrolled on a recognised, state-funded course at Abingdon and Witney College. 2 I understand that I am responsible for the contract for childcare with the childcare provider. 3 I have asked the childcare provider to complete and return one copy of the attached form which gives details of my childcare costs. 4 I understand that the Discretionary Learner Support Fund will only pay for childcare costs for the days I am attending college or an approved work placement. I will inform the college if I reduce or increase the number of days I attend college before any changes in childcare are arranged. 5 I understand that Abingdon & Witney College will only pay the agreed childcare costs given in the letter confirming my Discretionary Learner Support Fund award and that if I go over these agreed costs I will be liable for any additional fees incurred. 6 I agree to a minimum attendance of 90% on my course and I understand that my childcare funding is dependent on this. 7 If I cease to be a student at Abingdon & Witney College during the academic year 08 September 2014 to 03 July 2015, I will be responsible for paying any childcare costs from the date I stop attending or am withdrawn from my course. I understand that Abingdon & Witney College will not be responsible for paying for any period of notice required by my childcare provider if I fail to let the college know I have withdrawn from my course. 8 The college reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions without notice if necessary. 9b Advice for the Childcare Provider The Childcare Provider Information form must be filled in by the nursery/childminder and returned to the college, to inform us of the payment and childcare details. Guidance is also attached for the provider so they are aware of the nature of the agreement between all the parties involved. The advice for childcare providers is as follows: Childcare is awarded to students on the following basis: The childcare provider s contract is with the student and not with the college. The student will normally only be awarded help for the days/hours

10 whilst attending college or essential work experience The student is expected to use at least one fifth of the child s entitlement to nursery education funding for each day. The student is responsible for any registration fees, meal and snack fees and any activity fees or additional costs Childcare payments will only start once the student has enrolled at the college and the college has received the relevant invoice If the student s childcare costs increase during the academic year, the college will only pay these additional costs if they are agreed in advance with the college All payments are based on the student s attendance and funding for Term 2 (Spring Term) and Term 3 (Summer Term) will be withheld if the student s attendance falls below 90% If funding is withdrawn, the s tudent is responsible for any costs owed to the childcare provider If the s tudent leaves t h e course early, t h e s t u d e n t is responsible for any costs to cover any period of notice needed by the childcare provider The college will not pay for any childcare costs incurred after 03 July 2015 The college Term dates are: Term 1 (Autumn Term) 08 September 2014 to 19 December 2014 Half-term 24 October 2014 to 31 October 2014 Term 2 (Spring Term) 05 January 2015 to 27 March 2015 Half-term 16 February 2015 to 20 February 2015 Term 3 (Summer Term) 15 April 2015 to 03 July 2015 Half-term 25 May 2015 to 29 May 2015 Please keep one copy of this form for your records and return one completed copy of this form to; The Student Finance Panel c/o Student Services Abingdon & Witney College Wootton Road ABINGDON, OX14 1GG The college will notify you in writing what help with childcare costs has been awarded to the student once this has been agreed by the Student Finance Panel. Payments to the childcare provider are paid directly on a Termly basis by the Bankers Automated Clearing System (BACS). The college will only reimburse childcare costs already incurred by students if the childcare provider provides receipts to confirm the student has paid these costs.

11 10 Care to Learn If the student is a parent, aged under 20 at the start of their course, the Care to Learn scheme could pay up to 160 per child per week towards childcare while the student is studying at college. Students can get further information about the Care to Learn Scheme from the Government website https://www.gov.uk/care-to-learn/overview or from the learner helpline (students starting a 2 year course when they are 19 are usually funded by Care to Learn for both years). 11 Fees (Tuition) Course fees are usually a combination of tuition, exams and course materials. The tuition fee is the biggest part of the course fee. Reductions or waivers on tuition fees are available to people who fall into one or more of the following categories: Aged at the beginning of the academic year (31/08/14): No Tuition fees apply on all qualification based courses. If you fall into this category, please request a year enrolment form. Aged at the start date of your course: A fee reduction is available on many of our courses. If a fee reduction is available this is indicated in our prospectus against the course information. Reductions are available if you fall into one or more of the following categories: Level 1 - You require a Level 1 or entry level qualification in order to progress to Level 2 Level 2 You have previously not achieved a Level 2 qualification and the course you wish to attend is a FULL Level 2* qualification Level 3 You have previously not achieved a Level 3 qualification and the course you wish to attend is a FULL Level 3* qualification GCSE Maths or English If you wish to study on our GCSE Maths or English courses and you have not previously achieved a grade C in the relevant subject Job Seekers Allowance You are in receipt of job seekers allowance during the period of study ESA (WRAG) You are in receipt of ESA during the period of study Universal Credit You are in receipt of Universal Credit during the period of study Unemployed You are unemployed and on a wider, relevant benefit (income support, housing benefit, contribution based ESA or Tax Credits for the unemployed) and need to complete the qualification in order to gain employment. Aged 24 and above at the start of your course (courses below Level 3): A fee reduction is available on many of our courses. If a fee reduction is available this is indicated against the course information. Reductions are

12 available to people who fall into one or more of the following categories: Job Seekers Allowance You are in receipt of job seekers allowance during the period of study ESA (WRAG) You are in receipt of ESA during the period of study Universal Credit You are in receipt of Universal Credit during the period of study Unemployed You are unemployed and on a wider, relevant benefit (income support, housing benefit, contribution based ESA or Tax Credits for the unemployed) and need to complete the qualification in order to gain employment GCSE Maths or English If you wish to study on our GCSE Maths or English courses and you have not previously achieved a grade C in the relevant subject. Aged 24 and above at the start of your course (courses at Level 3 and above): Students aged 24 and above who wish to enroll for Courses at Level 3 (or higher) are not entitled to any fee concessions. However, you are entitled to apply for a subsidised loan which will cover the full cost of the course. Please contact the Student Services team for further information on Student Loans. We can only provide financial support for eligible students for courses where the second letter of the course code is F, D or P. Course codes with a second letter of S are seen as self-funding courses. Please note that the student must provide evidence and THE STUDENT MUST ENROL IN PERSON if they wish to claim a reduction in fees. What are FULL Qualifications? A full level 2 qualification is equivalent to: 5 GCSEs grades A*-C NVQ Level 2 5 O Levels grades A-C 5 CSEs Grade 1 BTEC First Diploma A full level 3 qualification is equivalent to: 2 or more A Levels NVQ Level 3 BTEC National Diploma/Extended Diploma GNVQ Advanced. Qualifications gained in countries outside the UK may count as full level 2 or full level 3 qualification. 12 Evidence Requirements When assessing applications for financial support the college will need evidence before they make any awards. We will require evidence of benefits and household income before we approve any payments. This is to help us

13 make quick and appropriate awards, and on rare occasions, to prevent students making false applications to our limited funds. The college will also be audited in the future and we need to keep accurate and appropriate records for them to judge our effectiveness. Common examples of suitable evidence include: Letters showing eligibility for benefits e.g. Housing Benefit and Income Support. Bank statements showing household income and/or benefits being paid in to your account for a one month period. Pay slips showing income. P60. Letters showing entitlement to free schools meals in (assuming personal circumstances remain the same in ). Generally one piece of evidence is acceptable (though we may request more at our discretion). In the case of the 1200 Guaranteed Bursary, where students are claiming on the basis of receiving both Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payments and Employment Support Allowance, we need evidence of both benefits. Evidence must be no more than 6 weeks old when it is received by Student Services. If personal circumstances change, students must inform Student Services. If students are unable to provide the evidence required they will receive a reminder. If this fails to gain a response we will try other methods, which may include , texts, letters and phone calls. After three failed attempts we will place the application on file, where it will remain unless we hear from the student. It is important to clarify that we cannot approve any awards without evidence of income or benefits. 13 Emergency Funds In exceptional circumstances the college can make one off emergency payments or provide meal vouchers for students. Any payments will be assessed on a case by case basis by the Student Finance Panel. Students who feel they need any such funds or support should speak to Student Services or the Reception staff for further information. Depending on the situation, students may be asked to reimburse the college for any emergency financial help they have received.

14 14 Appeals Students who want to appeal against a Student Finance Panel decision, may do so. Appeals should be made in writing to Miranda Coles, Vice Principal at the Abingdon Campus, within 4 weeks of the date on their award letter. Students who need help with the appeal should contact Student Services staff at Abingdon or Witney campuses. 15 Other Sources of Financial Support For students who have not been awarded any financial help by the college, support may be available from other sources. Some towns have local charities and bursaries, while some have Rotary clubs which raise money for local causes and the community. In some cases students may be able to apply for a Professional and Career Development Loan, to fund vocational courses. There is further information on the Government s website - https://www.gov.uk/career- developmentloans/overview The Princes Trust offers Development Awards (for year olds) of up to 500 for employment and education purposes. See below for details - In addition, Family Action is a charity supporting disadvantaged families and has a database of grants aimed at people considering courses. The database can be found at 16 Application forms Bursary applications should be made online via the following link Students aged years old on 31 August 2014 applying for financial support from the Discretionary Student Bursary or the 1200 Guaranteed Bursary will need to complete the Bursary Application Form Students aged 19+ at the start of their course applying for financial support from the Discretionary Learner Support Fund will need to complete the 19+ Learner Support Fund Application Form Students aged 24+ at the start of their course who have applied for a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan and are applying for financial support from the Advanced Learning Loans Bursary Fund will need to complete the 24+ Loans

15 Bursary Fund Application form Students aged 20+ requesting financial help with childcare will also need to provide the following forms; Childcare Terms and Conditions - to be completed by the student. Childcare Provider Information - to be completed by the Childcare Provider. These forms are available via the following link or request from Student Services at Abingdon and Witney campuses. Students experience difficulties with the on line form or needing advice on the process should contact Student Services via: Abingdon Reception Tel: Witney Reception Tel: Application Decisions Decisions will be made by the Student Finance Panel. We will write to students regarding award decisions. Students who owe the college course costs for previous academic years will only be supported by the Student Finance Panel in exceptional circumstances or when their debt is paid. Students will not normally be given help for more than two consecutive years. In exceptional circumstances, where there is a clear progression of skills and qualifications, help may be given for three consecutive years and in very exceptional circumstances for four consecutive years. It is up to the discretion of the Student Finance Panel whether the college will offer financial support to students wanting to do a second qualification at the same level as the one they already have. For example students completing a level three BTEC Extended Diploma, then wanting to do a full A-Level programme. Generally awards will be made directly to the student s bank account by the Bankers Automated Clearing Services (BACS) or paid internally to their college account eg for course materials. Awards for Childcare will be paid by bank transfer (BACS) directly to the Childcare Provider. In some cases further awards will be made for Terms 2 and 3, to cover things like additional course costs, transport or trips. For the 1200 Guaranteed Bursary, weekly payments are usually made directly to the student. Any further awards will be based on satisfactory attendance and performance.

16 We will write to inform unsuccessful applicants, who are not eligible for any of the awards above. 18 Repayments On occasions where students have left college early, they may be asked to repay the college for any award they have received. In these cases, students will be sent a letter outlining any money or materials that need to be repaid or returned. 19 Application checklists Students applying to the college for any of the bursaries will need to apply using the correct application forms. However, awards cannot be made unless completed forms include: All relevant sections completed. Financial evidence of income or benefits. An explanation of why help is needed. A signature which is dated. 20 Higher Education Funding. Financial support for university level courses eg Foundation Degrees or degrees through Abingdon & Witney College, is organised by our partner University (eg Oxford Brookes) and Student Finance England. For more information on higher education Student loans including - maintenance loans, maintenance grants and tuition fee loans find out more at https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/overview. Or useful information can be found at the website of our partner university Oxford Brookes Policy Statement All awards are made at the discretion of the Student Finance Panel and are based on our levels of funding, the individual circumstances of students and government advice. Government guidelines from the EFA and SFA can change throughout the academic year. Any relevant college procedures will be altered accordingly and could affect the Student s eligibility or award at a later date. A copy of the college policies and procedures for Student finance will become available online at 22 Examples of Unauthorised Absence When assessing future awards we will look at the students attendance. Below

17 are examples of unauthorised absences which could impact on the student s chance of getting an award towards their course costs. Holidays Part or full time work which is not part of a programme of study Leisure activities Birthdays or similar celebrations Babysitting younger siblings (except in case of emergency) Shopping Driving lessons Sickness with no supporting evidence, such as doctor s note or letter from parent/guardian Over-sleeping or running late 23 Bursary Eligibility for Students from Outside the UK Policies and Government guidelines on this subject are too broad to cover in this document. Potential Students from outside the UK or people returning to the UK will be assessed during the application process to look into eligibility/funding for courses and bursaries. Please contact Student Services to discuss this issue further.

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