This information explains how Student Finance England undergraduate funding is affected if you make a change to your studies. It's relevant for home and home/EU students (England domiciled students) who pay the home rate of tuition fee and who are eligible for Student Finance England funding.
If you receive Student Finance from Student Finance Wales, the Scottish Awards Agency or from Student Finance Northern Ireland please contact them directly to check how your funding will be affected as the rules may differ. If you remain unsure contact a Welfare Adviser.
Making a change to your studies may affect your student funding entitlement in the year in which you make the change. It can also affect your funding entitlement in the year you return to your studies. For example:
For further information see the sections below:
Once you arrange with your School to interrupt your studies and the interruption form is processed, Queen Mary will inform Student Finance England of your interruption date. However, it is good practice to also inform them yourself.
Once Student Finance England receive this information, they should stop any future payments of loans or grants until you resume your studies. They will also recalculate how much Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan (and grant if applicable) you are entitled to receive for the year, based on your course attendance in the academic year leading up to your interruption date. If you have been paid too much funding, Student Finance you will normally ask you to repay the overpayment.
The Tuition Fee Loan
If you receive the Tuition Fee Loan to pay your tuition fees, an amount is paid to the University for each term that you are attending your course. This is :
If you interrupt part way though a semester, the above Tuition Fee Loan installment will still be paid in full to the University on your behalf. For information about Tuition Fee liability see our Undergraduate fee implications page.
The Maintenance Loan and additional grants
An overpayment of Maintenance Loan (and any grants if applicable) may occur in several ways:
Interrupting because of ill health
If you interrupt for health reasons during your course and Queen Mary confirm this to Student Finance England when informing them of your interruption date, it can reduce an overpayment. This is because although Student Finance England will still re-calculate your Student Finance entitlement based on your course attendance, they should automatically allow your Maintenance Loan entitlement to continue for a further 60 days after the date of your interruption. This means that any overpayment will be calculated from the end of this 60 day period and not you actual date of interruption.
If you did not interrupt for health reasons, your Student Finance entitlement will end from the date of your interruption and the overpayment will be calculated from this date.
In exceptional circumstances, students who have interrupted their studies and have substantial ongoing financial commitments such as rent and bills to pay may apply to Student Finance England for discretionary funding during a temporary interruption period. If an application is approved Student Finance England will continue paying your Maintenance Loan instalments during the period of interruption for the rest of the academic year.
This is possible where the interruption occurs part way through an academic year however, we also understand that this may be possible when a student interrupts for a full academic year. Contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like to discuss this option.
For Student Finance England to consider awarding discretionary funding, you must have applied for your usual student funding for the year in question and then you will need to complete an additional form called a Student Finance England Financial Hardship Form. There are different versions of this form so you will need to request this from Student Finance England as they are not available online.
Student Finance England should consider each application on its own merits and consider the reasons why you have interrupted, how long you are interrupting for, what financial hardship you may experience if you do not receive any Student Finance, and whether this could affect your return to study in the following year. Although not all applications are successful as this is discretionary, applications are decided on an individual basis so it's important to make your case and explain your circumstances clearly.
The form asks about your income, expenses, and debts. You should explain why you have had to interrupt, and why you are now unable to work or access any alternative income. If you have compelling reasons, for example if you are unable to work due to ill health you should explain this on the application form.
You need to show you will be in financial hardship without your student funding continuing.
On the Hardship Form explain:
You also need to send supporting documents with your form such as bank statements for the most recent three months, as well as evidence of your financial obligations such as a tenancy agreement showing your rent amount, copies of any bills that are due, etc.
Contact a Welfare Adviser who can advise you about making a discretionary funding application or check it before you send it.
Student Finance England do not provide any funding to students who are re-sitting out of attendance and who are not required to attend their course. They have also confirmed that they will not consider awarding any discretionary funding during this time.
However, you may have already applied for your student funding for the year ahead, prior to confirmation that you will be re-sitting out of attendance. If Student Finance England release a payment of Maintenance Loan (or any additional grant) to you, this will be an overpayment. Any further payments due the following term/s are usually stopped.
Although it may seem useful at the time to receive a Maintenance Loan payment, it can lead to financial difficulties later on. This is because Student Finance England will re-assess your funding entitlement once they are aware that you are not required to attend your course. Any Maintenance Loan paid to you while re-sitting out of attendance will become an overpayment and you will be asked to repay this. This also applies to any Student Finance England additional grants including the Disabled Students Allowance.
These loan overpayments are not subject to the normal loan repayment terms and conditions and are not added to your overall student funding debt. Instead Student Finance England often recover a Maintenance Loan overpayment by reducing your Maintenance Loan entitlement the following academic year (or reducing grant entitlement if it is a grant overpayment). This can leave you in financial hardship as you will have less Maintenance Loan available to cover your costs for that year. Where it is not possible to recover the overpayment this way e.g. because the course has been completed or you decide to withdraw, Student Finance England will ask for the overpayment to be repaid in full unless they agree to set up a repayment plan to allow you to repay in installments.
If you would like to discuss this further please contact a Welfare Adviser .
Your student funding entitlement is based on course attendance in the academic year. An overpayment of funding can occur if you interrupt, withdraw or are de-registered part way through an academic year. It can also occur if you are paid funding in error, for example if you receive funding when you are re-sitting out of attendance.
If too much Tuition Fee Loan is paid to Queen Mary, Student Finance England should reclaim this directly from the University. However, any other overpayments such as a Maintenance Loan overpayment will be recovered from you. Student Finance England will usually notify you of the overpayment and explain how they intend to recover it. It might take them several weeks to inform you, so you may find it helpful to ask a Welfare Adviser to estimate the overpayment amount in the meantime, to help you plan your finances accordingly.
Overpayments are not repaid alongside your other standard loan repayments and are not based on your earnings once you complete your course. Instead, Student Finance England will normally recover the overpayment by reducing your funding entitlement in the next academic year of your course unless you decide to repay sooner. However the overpayment cannot be recovered this way if you have no funding entitlement the following year because you have withdrawn or, are de-registered or, you will be completing your course by re-sitting our of attendance. Where this applies, Student Finance England will normally require you to repay in full or to contact them about repaying in installments and to negotiate and arrange a separate repayment plan with them.
If you are not a final year student and recovering the overpayment by reducing your Maintenance Loan entitlement in the next academic will cause you financial hardship, you can ask Student Finance England to consider recovering the overpayment in a later academic year. This is at their discretion. You can re-apply each year to request further deferment. You can also ask for the repayments to automatically be deferred until after the end of your course although Student Finance England have advised that this is normally only agreed in very exceptional circumstances.
To defer repayment, Student Finance England advise to apply close to the start of the next academic year, ideally no earlier than 8 weeks before your return to study. You would need to complete a Student Finance England Financial Hardship Confirmation form detailing your income and expenses for the academic year ahead. You will need to attach bank statements and additional documents highlighting your financial commitments and your circumstances and help explain that you cannot manage financially if your Maintenance Loan is reduced to recover the overpayment. You will need to request the Hardship Form from Student Finance England as it is not available online. We have more information about making this application in the previous section about applying for funding while interrupting.
If you interrupted studies in the previous year and this has caused the overpayment, it is also possible to make a Discretionary Fund application to Student Finance England retrospectively and ask them to allow your Maintenance Loan to remain in place for the previous year. Again, you would need to complete their form and provide evidence of your financial circumstances last year to show you would have been in financial hardship if you have not received your Maintenance Loan. If Student Finance England agree to allow you to keep your Maintenance Loan during a period of interruption, on the grounds of financial hardship, this can help reduce or remove an overpayment which in turn means less or no overpayment will be recovered from any future year of Maintenance Loan entitlement. Refer to the section above about applying for funding while interrupting.
Contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like advice about making this discretionary application to Student Finance England, and about when to apply.
If you are resuming from an interruption of study part way through an academic year, for example at the start of Semester 2 in January, and are having difficulty making your Student Funding application contact a Welfare Adviser for advice.
If you are normally eligible for a Student Finance Maintenance Loan and/or supplementary grants for children, dependents, or disability, these are normally available for as many re-take periods of study as you need. However, this funding is normally only available once you resume attendance on your course unless Student Finance England agree to award you any Discretionary Funding during a period of interruption.
However, the number of years that a Tuition Fee Loan is available to you is limited. If you have previous study or any earlier re-takes, it may not be available to you for your current re-take year. If the Tuition Fee Loan is not available, you will be required to pay your own tuition fee for the retake period.
This is how Student Finance England calculate entitlement to the Tuition Fee Loan:
Under the standard entitlement, you are eligible for a Student Finance Tuition Fee Loan for the ordinary duration of your course, plus one extra year should you need to re-take a year in attendance. Student Finance England often refer to this extra year of Tuition Fee Loan as a gift year or plus one year. You can only use this gift year/plus one year for this purpose for your current course and do not retain entitlement to this extra year once you successfully complete your course.
If you are a medical or dental student, the ordinary duration of your course only means the Student Finance England funded years, not the NHS funded years. There is more information in our undergraduate Funding for Medical and Dental Students page.
If you need to re-take a year or part year of study in attendance, for example, you are resuming from a period of interruption, and this is the first retake you have had to do, in most cases you can use your ‘gift year.’ However, if you have already re-taken a year or part year with attendance before or have any previous study or attendance on an earlier degree level course you will have already used up this ‘gift year.’ A part year counts as a full year so even a few days attendance counts as previous study.
If the gift year is not available you will only be eligible for a Student Finance Maintenance Loan plus any supplementary grants e.g., for childcare or dependents, for any retake periods and, as you will not be eligible for a Tuition fee Loan, you will have to pay your own tuition fees for your repeat period. However, there is a way to request an additional year of Tuition Fee Loan to be paid – more information can be found in the next section for students whose studies have been affected by compelling personal circumstances.
Sam is attending a 3 year degree course at Queen Mary. Previously they started year 1 of a 4-year Business Studies degree at Bath University but withdrew during the first year in December as they wanted to study a different topic.
This means Sam used up the “gift year” while at Bath. However, Sam still has 3-years of tuition fee loan available for their 3-year course at Queen Mary. This is how Student Finance England would calculate Sam’s entitlement:
The ordinary duration of the current Queen Mary course = 3 years plus 1 gift year = 4 years of funding. However, from this total, Student Finance England deduct 1 year because of Sam’s Study at Bath University. This leaves Sam with 3 years of Tuition Fee Loan for their new Queen Mary course. This would have been sufficient for the normal duration of the course but does not cover the retake year.
As Sam is required to retake a year of their current course in attendance, they will have to pay their own tuition fees for the re-take period unless Student Finance England accept that ‘compelling personal reasons’ affected their last year of study and caused the re-take year and they agree to award an additional year of Tuition Fee Loan on this basis. If Sam had left Bath University because of a personal compelling reason instead of academic reasons, Student Finance England can also consider this and may award an additional year on this basis too. The next section has more information about studies being affected by compelling personal reasons.
There is no a limit to the number of years a person can receive the Maintenance Loan and additional grants for children, dependents, or disability. However if you already hold a Hons degree level qualification or higher and are starting a new course, neither a Tuition Fee Loan or a Maintenance Loan will be available for the new course although there are some exceptions for Medical students.
However there is a limit to the number of years a Tuition Fee Loan is available. Under the standard entitlement, students are eligible for a Student Finance Tuition Fee Loan for the ordinary duration of their course, plus one extra year. This extra year is often known as a gift year or plus one year. If you need to re-take a year or part year in attendance for the first time you can usually use this ‘gift year' to pay our tuition fees. However, if you have previously re-taken a year or part year in attendance or you have previous study on an earlier degree level course you will have already used up this ‘gift year.’ A part year counts as a full year so even a few days attendance counts as previous study. If you are not entitled to a tuition fee loan, you will need to pay the tuition fees yourself unless you can request an additional year of tuition fee loan because of Compelling Personal Reasons. See below.
If you previously studied on an earlier degree level course that you did not complete and you start a new course, a Tuition Fee Loan may not be available for each year of the new course. Your previous study reduces the number of years you can receive a Tuition Fee loan for your new course. SFE will always award any remaining tuition fee loan entitlement to the latter years of the new course. If the Tuition Fee Loan is not available, you will be required to pay your own tuition fee unless you can request an additional year of tuition fee loan because of Compelling Personal Reasons. See below.
Compelling Personal Reasons
However Student Finance England can consider awarding an additional year of discretionary Tuition Fee Loan if compelling personal reasons affected your study and either:
Student Finance England often refer to year of discretionary funding as a CPR year (Compelling Personal Reasons year). There is no deadline for applying, so you can apply retrospectively for a past academic year. A CPR year is discretionary but is a useful option try if you have already used up your gift year/plus one year. We explain more about the gift year/plus one year for undergraduate students in the Re-taking in attendance section above.
If you no longer have your gift year/plus one year available then a discretionary CPR year of funding is a useful option if you have to pay a tuition fee to:
Compelling personal reasons can include ill-health or serious personal difficulties, such as a bereavement. There is no prescribed list so other circumstances can be considered if they affected your study and each case is considered individually. A Welfare Adviser can indicate if a situation is likely to be considered as compelling by Student Finance England.
Previous Study Example Obi enrolled onto year 1 of a 4-year degree at Leeds University but withdrew during the second year in December. Therefore Obi used up their gift year/plus 1 year and also used up another year of Tuition Fee loan while at Leeds. So Obi has 2 years of previous study. Obi is now starting in year 1 of a new 3-year degree course at Queen Mary. Their entitlement to Student Finance for their new course is calculated as:
3 years for the ordinary duration of their new Queen Mary course plus + 1 gift year = 4 years.
However, 2 years are deducted because of Obi’s study at Leeds University. This means Obi only has 2 years of Tuition Fee Loan remaining for their new 3-year course at Queen Mary so must pay their own fees for year one.
However, Obi left their last course as they became unwell and needed medical treatment so Obi can ask Student Finance England to consider awarding them an extra discretionary CPR year of Tuition Fee Loan for the first year of their new course because they left their last course because of Compelling Personal Reasons.
It is always best to apply for your funding and make a CPR request as early as possible, before the start the academic year to allow SFE time to decide. This way you will know if your CPR request is successful before you enrol and before you become liable to pay any tuition fee.
How to apply the additional year of Compelling Person reasons year of discretionary Tuition Fee loan
First make the application for Student funding for the year in question. Then provide Student Finance England with a letter outlining your circumstances, your request for Discretionary funding along with any relevant supporting evidence. See the list below although this is just a guide. A Welfare Adviser can help you consider the type of documents you will need, as this will vary according to your individual situation. You do not need to have these documents before you contact us, but this list might help you to start thinking about preparing your application:
Your own letter should explain:
A Welfare Adviser can advise you about this letter, but it can be helpful if you have prepared a draft to show them.
You should also provide a letter from a professional person or agency to confirm the difficulties that you had during the year that your studies were affected and that caused you to either interrupt studies or leave your last course. This letter might be from a doctor, other health professional or a counsellor. An ideal letter should explain how the compelling circumstances affected your ability to study, explain the difficulties that you had during that year, when your difficulties occurred and provides dates so that it is clear your difficulties relate to the relevant study period that was affected.
If you have been getting medication, treatment, or therapeutic help for your difficulties, it is helpful for this to be explained in the letters, and how this is helping you, so it is clear you are taking steps to address the difficulties you have had. If the person writing the letter feels able to, it is useful for them to confirm that you are likely to be able to study more effectively because of this help.
If you have no evidence or have not received help or support from a professional, a letter from a friend or family member who knows about your difficulties may be enough, although formal documentation will often be required. Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your circumstances.
It is possible to transfer Student Fiance England to a new course providing the new course qualifies for this funding, and the new university (or new academic department at Queen Mary) agrees to accept you as a transfer student. Once your new university accepts you as a transfer student, they should inform Student Finance England who should transfer your Student Finance entitlement to your new course and re-assess your entitlement if necessary. Please carefully read the information below to check whether you will be eligible for funding for each year of the new course or not.
If you remain at Queen Mary an online notification of your change of circumstances will be sent to Student Finance England. This should happen automatically, but if you want to check, contact the Student Enquiry Centre.
If you transfer to a university outside of London, your Maintenance Loan entitlement will be assessed using the 'out of London' Maintenance Loan rate. This is lower than the London rate so can make a difference to your budget. To compare, view the current year Maintenance loan rates on gov.uk.
If you have had a gap in your studies (because you interrupted and then transferred) Student Finance England should still treat you as a transfer providing the gap was for less than two academic years.
If you transfer between courses at different institutions within the same academic year (for example you start a course in September and transfer to a different course in October), Student Finance England will only award one tuition fee for the full year. The tuition fee loan will be split between the two institutions, and the proportion payable to each institution will depend on what point in the academic year you transfer.
Previous study on an earlier degree level course reduces entitlement to the Student Finance England Tuition Fee loan:
Under the standard entitlement, students are eligible for a Student Finance England Tuition Fee Loan for the "ordinary duration of a course" plus one extra year often called a ‘plus one’ or ‘gift year.’
For example, where the ordinary duration of the new course is 3 years this means 4 years of Tuition Fee Loan is normally available. However, any years of previous study on your current course or any earlier degree level course are deducted from this.
A part year counts as a full year. Even if you only attended for 1 day, this usually counts as one year of previous study.
Previous Study Example
Fran enrolled onto year 1 of a 4-year Business Studies degree at Queen Mary but after the second year, transfers to year 1 of a 3-year law degree. Their entitlement to Student Finance for their new course is calculated as:
However, if Fran left their last course because of compelling personal reasons, for example, if they became unwell and were unable to follow their course, they can ask Student Finance England to consider awarding them an extra discretionary year of Tuition Fee Loan to their first year because they left their last course because of Compelling Personal Reasons. For more information about this, refer to the earlier section above about Compelling Personal Reasons.
Queen Mary will inform Student Finance England if you withdraw or are de-registered during the academic year. This normally happen within two weeks of your withdrawal or de-registration date. It is also good practice to also contact Student Finance England yourself to let them know that you have left your course. Student Finance England should then stop any future payments of Student Finance while awaiting the official change of circumstance notification and confirmation of leaving date from Queen Mary.
Once you withdraw or are de-registered, you will no longer be entitled to receive Student Finance, as you will no longer be a student. However if you normally receive any grants, Student Finance England can extend grant support to the end of a term in which you withdraw based on the grounds of financial hardship. To apply to be considered, a Student Finance England hardship form must be completed. You can obtain this form by contacting them as it is not freely available online.
The Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan you were entitled to receive up to your withdrawal date or de-registration date are added together to make up your overall student loan account repayment balance. For more information about repayments see the student loan repayment pages.
However you will only be entitled to receive the Student Finance England Maintenance Loan and/or grant up to the date you withdraw or are de-registered. Student Finance England will recalculate your entitlement based on your course attendance so far and if you have been paid too much Maintenance Loan or supplementary grants, they will ask you to repay this by setting up a repayment plan with them. Overpayments are recovered separately to other loan repayments.
Your Tuition Fee Loan entitlement will also be re-calculated based on course attendance and if Student Finance England have paid too much they will recover this from the University.
If you withdraw or are de-registered after the end of the academic year, i.e., during the summer vacation, you should not be asked to repay any Student Finance for that academic year.
Funding for a new future course
Time spent on an incomplete current or previous course reduces the amount of Student Finance England funding available for a new future course. So, if you start a new higher education degree level course in the future, you may not be eligible for Student Finance for every year of your new course due to having studied before.
Providing you did not achieve an Hons degree qualification (or equivalent qualification), this affects the Tuition Fee Loan but not the Maintenance Loan or additional grants. However, if you have any outstanding overpayments of Maintenance Loan or grants still to repay from an earlier course, these can also reduce your Maintenance Loan entitlement (and grants if applicable) for your new course too.
Note: This information is subject to change as the current Student Funding system in England is under review. There may be substantial changes from 2023/24 onwards that may alter your funding entitlement for a new course.
This is how Student Finance England currently assess entitlement where there is previous study:
Under the standard entitlement, students are eligible for a Student Finance England Tuition Fee Loan for the ordinary duration of a course plus one extra year often called a ‘plus one’ or ‘gift year.’
For example, where the ordinary duration of the new course is 3 years this means 4 years of Tuition Fee Loan is normally available. However, any years of previous study on any earlier degree level Higher Education course are deducted.
If you have studied for one year only at Queen Mary and have no other previous study elsewhere, check with Student Finance England that you have a tuition fee loan available for the ordinary duration of a new course.
However, if instead you have studied for up to 2 years at Queen Mary, you will not automatically be entitled to a Tuition Fee Loan for the first year of a new course. You would have to pay your own tuition fees for year one. However, a tuition fee loan should be available for the final 2 years of the new course.
The more years of previous study you have, either at Queen Mary or on an earlier course, then the lower your Tuition Fee Loan entitlement for a new course until you have zero entitlement.
Compelling Personal Reasons
If you are leaving your course for compelling personal reasons, you can ask Student Finance England to award one extra year of fee loan towards the first year of a new course. Only one year can be awarded under this rule. For information about applying for this extra year refer to the Compelling Personal Reasons section.
The Financial Assistance Fund does not normally consider students who are not attending their course. This includes students who have interrupted their studies or who are re-sitting out of attendance.
However, if you are re-sitting out of attendance and you need to give up work a few weeks before your exams so that you can revise, you may be able to get a grant to help towards your loss of earnings from the Financial Assistance Fund (FAF).
In exceptional circumstances you might also be able to apply to the University Financial Assistance Fund for a limited amount of financial assistance if you have no income while you are waiting for other funds to arrive or while you look for work.
This Fund cannot help with tuition fee costs and cannot consider students who have withdrawn or who have been de-registered from their course.
Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service who can advise you about applying to the Financial Assistance Fund.
If you are eligible for a Queen Mary Bursary and you interrupt or withdraw from your studies, or transfer to another university or are deregistered, your bursary entitlement will be affected. The amount is linked to tuition fee liability and is awarded in line with the tuition fee regulations . For example, if you are liable to pay 25% of the tuition fee for the academic year, you will receive 25% of the Queen Mary Bursary, if you are liable for 50% of the tuition fee, you will receive 50% of the bursary.
The bursary is paid in two instalments in November and March. If you interrupt before the bursary payment date, you will receive the amount of bursary due to you on the bursary payment date, in line with your tuition fee liability. You will not be asked to repay any Queen Mary Bursary you have received if you interrupt, withdraw, transfer or are deregistered. The Bursary Policy, available on the bursary information (at the bottom of the page) explains the following:
You can get a Queen Mary Bursary if you are re-taking a year of study in attendance. However, you cannot get a Queen Mary Bursary if you are re-sitting out of attendance or while you have interrupted your studies.
For more information contact the Bursaries Office.
Other Scholarships and Bursaries
If you are receiving any other scholarships or bursaries, contact the relevant department or organisation for advice how this will be affected following an interruption, transfer, or withdrawal of studies. You will need to ask whether you need to repay anything, and if the scholarship or bursary will remain available if you need to re-take a period of study. Check your bursary award letter for contact details.