Changing or leaving your course and previous study

If you are thinking about:

  • Transferring to a different course
  • Taking time out from your studies (suspending study)
  • Repeating a year of study
  • Converting to a part-time†course†from a full-time course
  • Withdrawing from your course altogether

First seek advice from a Student Money Adviser, because the choices that you make will have financial implications and could affect your present and future funding.

Repeating

If you need to repeat some or all of an academic year before you can progress on your course, you will need to consider how this can affect your funding.

In general the Maintenance Loan, Grants for Dependants and †Disabled Students' Allowance are paid until†you finish your course.

The Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance/Special Support†Grant are paid for the usual length of†your course, plus one year.†

This means that if you are repeating for the first time, have not studied in Higher Education before†and†will be attending the university throughout the year then you should get your funding as usual.†

You are only automatically entitled to the†Maintenance Loan and Grant while you are in attendance, so if you only have to attend in the first term, for example, you will not get funding for the rest of the year, unless you request it.† Student Finance England can extend funding when†you are absent, but†their decision†depends†on why†you are absent, how long for, and whether you would suffer financial hardship.

If you have used up your extra year of funding, perhaps because you have studied in Higher Education before, or this is not the first time you are repeating study, then you would not usually be entitled to the Tuition Fee Loan or Maintenance/Special Support†Grant for your repeat year.† This could†mean that you have to pay†any tuition fees yourself and you will need to make sure that you have allowed enough in your budget for living costs and to pay your fees.

However, there is an exception to this rule if you are†having to repeat because of 'compelling personal reasons'. If you can provide evidence to Student Finance England of the strong personal reasons for your need to repeat, then they can, in some circumstances,†award an additional year of funding.† (See section below on 'compelling personal reasons').

If you are repeating and not sure what funding you are entitled to,†speak to a Student Money Adviser.†

Suspending

If you take time out from your course (sometimes†known as†deferring or suspending study) you will need to tell your course administrator and also let Student Finance England know about your plans.

Student Funding
Usually if you†stop attending your course your student funding will stop and the next instalments of your student loan and grant will not be paid.† Student Finance England will recalculate your entitlement to grants and loans, and let you know if you are entitled to more, or whether you will need to repay any loans or grants.

If you are absent because of illness support can continue to be paid for 60 days while you are absent.

If you are suspending study and will be absent from your course, but will suffer financial hardship as a result, then you can ask Student Finance England to extend your funding.† In deciding whether to extend your support they will take into account the†reasons for your absence, how long you†expect to be†absent, and the financial hardship which not paying support would cause.

Welfare Benefits
While you are taking time out, if you are still registered as a full-time student, you would not usually be able to claim any means-tested benefits, for example; Housing Benefit or Jobseekers' Allowance, unless you are in a category of student who can claim as a full-time student, for example; a single parent or a student with a disability.

If you are a student who gets Disability Living Allowance, or who has paid enough National Insurance contributions, then you may be entitled to Employment Support Allowance if your illness or disability means that you have 'limited capability for work'.

For students who are not in those categories, there are some other exceptions to this rule. If you have taken time out to be a carer, or time out because of illness and you have ceased your caring responsibilities or recovered from illness and are waiting to resume your studies, then you may be entitled to welfare benefits in some circumstances.† If you are in this situation speak to a Student Money Adviser to get more help and advice.

If you have taken time out from a full-time course because you are pregnant, then unless you qualify for another reason, you would not usually be entitled to†welfare benefits until your baby is born, and then†only in some circumstances. †There is other maternity help available though, for example; if you have been working you may qualify for statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.† See Turn2Us†Expecting or Bringing up Children†for more information.

If you are thinking about taking time out from your course, then speak to a student money adviser about how this could affect your finances.

Transferring

If you are planning to transfer courses this†can†affect your student funding in some circumstances.

Where you†are transferring†onto a course of the same length, same mode of study (full-time or part-time) and into the same or following year, then your student funding will not usually be affected by the transfer.

If you are transferring and starting†a new†course†in an earlier year, for example you transfer from the third year of one course into the first year of a new course, or if you are transferring from a full-time course to a part-time course or vice versa†then your funding could be affected.

If you are suspending study before transferring please see the section on this page about suspending study.

Students who transfer onto (rather than withdraw and start again)†a course starting after 1st September 2012 will not be able to access the new funding available to 2012 starters, but will stay on their original system of student support.†

Speak to Student Money Adviser if you are unsure about how your funding will be affected by a transfer.

Withdrawing

If you are leaving or are thinking of leaving your course, then you need to consider how this will affect your finances, both now and in the future.

Your current and future student funding can be affected. You will also need to consider how to meet any ongoing financial commitments and also whether you have entitlement to welfare benefits once you stop studying.

Your Loans and Grants
When you withdraw, in addition to telling the university,†you should let Student Finance England know. They will reassess what loans and grants you are still entitled to for the year.

Maintenance Loan
When a student withdraws Student Finance England will cancel the next instalment of loan. The Student Loan that has already been paid can either be recovered in the usual way, once the student has started earning over the repayment threshold. Or, Student Finance England could decide to recalculate the loan based on the withdrawal date.

Grants for Living costs
Grants for living costs or dependants†(i.e. The Maintenance Grant, Special Support Grant, Parents Learning Allowance, Adult Dependants Grant) are paid to cover 365 days. After withdrawal they are reassessed according to how many days the student has spent on the course during that academic year. This is even the case where students withdraw during the summer vacation, because the academic year ends on August 31st. A student who withdraws before August 31st may have†grants to repay, or have been underpaid.

For example; a student who withdraws after 6 months would be entitled to half of their Maintenance Grant award. If they have already been paid two thirds of their grant, then Student Finance England would ask for repayment of about half the second instalment.

In some circumstances, Student Finance England can extend entitlement to grants until the next instalment would have been due for payment. Students need to put in a request to Student Finance England who will take into account, among other things, the financial hardship that may be caused by not extending support.

Tuition Fees
After†you have withdrawn from your course you may still be liable to pay fees.††Leeds Met's†policy is found in the General Regulations in sections 12 and 13.

If you have applied for a tuition fee loan, you will not be liable to pay fees if†you withdraw within two weeks of the start of the academic year.†If you withdraw after the second week of the first term and before the start of the second term you will be liable for†25% of the fees, after the start of the second term it is 50% and after the start of the third term it is 100%.† This is in line with how much tuition fee loan will†be paid on your behalf by the Student Loans Company.

If you withdraw and you are not entitled to a Tuition Fee Loan from the Student Loans Company your fees are worked out according to how many weeks you have attended university.† Calculations are based on a percentage of 30 weeks for most undergraduate courses. Weeks are counted from the start of the academic year until the date of withdrawal. For example; if you withdraw after 15 weeks you will be liable for 50% of the full fee.

To avoid dispute it is recommended that you get confirmation in writing from your faculty of the date of your withdrawal.

The information above gives a general overview. For the policy in†detail please†see the General Regulations

Link: Leeds Met General Regulations 2013/14

Future Funding
Students who have withdrawn from a course, and then start study on a new course can find their funding entitlement affected by the 'previous study' rules. See Previous Study Rules section below

The Maintenance Loan is not affected by previous study unless the student's new course leads to a qualification which is lower than, or equivalent to, a qualification they already hold.

Grants for Dependants and Disabled Students' Allowances are currently unaffected by the previous study rules.

Students are usually entitled to funding of tuition fee loan and grants for living costs for the length of their course, plus one year, minus any years of previous study.

Example: If you are withdrawing in the second year of your first ever Higher Education course without a qualification and you start a new three year course in the future, then you will only get tuition fee loan and maintenance grant funding for the final two years of the new course. You would need to pay the tuition fees yourself for the first year of the new course. You could still get Maintenance Loan, Grants for Dependants and Disabled Students' Allowances for the whole of the new course.

Leaving accommodation
If you are leaving your accommodation because you have withdrawn from your course, you will need to check whether you have any outstanding financial commitments, for example; do you have a tenancy agreement or outstanding utility bills for your current accommodation.

If moving out will leave you with outstanding debts, then you may want to seek advice about your liability and/or how to deal with the debt or negotiate repayment.

If you are leaving university halls then have a look at the information on the Accommodation website about moving out.†

Website: Accommodation

Welfare Benefits
When you withdraw from your course, you are no longer considered a full-time student for means-tested benefits. This means that you may become entitled to benefits including; Jobseekers Allowance, if you are available for or seeking work, and/or; Housing Benefit if you pay rent and have a low income.

When you leave your course you may become liable to pay Council Tax. You may be able to claim Council Tax Benefit if you are living on a low income.

You can find a specialist welfare benefits adviser near you at Community Legal Advice

The 'Previous Study' Rules

If you are thinking about withdrawing, transferring or repeating part of your course, then you need to be aware of the previous study rules because they could affect the funding you could get for future study.

In brief, the rules are:

If you are studying on a course for a qualification which†is equivalent to, or lower†than a qualification you already hold then with a†few exceptions you cannot get the Tuition Fee Loan, Maintenance/Special Support Grant or Maintenance Loan for your current course.

In general, if you have studied before on a:

  • part-time†course and achieved a Higher Education qualification, or†
  • publicly-funded full-time Higher Education course, even where you did not achieve a qualification and even if the study was outside the UK.

then the number of years you spent on the previous course are taken into account to limit the number of years of Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance/Special Support Grant you can get for you†current course.

Students are usually entitled to†fee and grant support†for the length of their course, plus one year (in case, for example, they need to repeat a year), less any years of previous study.

An exception is made where students have withdrawn from their most recent course, or are repeating a year because of 'compelling personal reasons' (see section below).†

The rules†may differ too†for some courses, for example; NHS†and Social Work courses, teacher training courses, medical doctor, dentist, veterinary surgeon or†architects.

If you are concerned that you may be affected by the previous study rules speak to a student money adviser.

'Compelling Personal Reasons'

Sometimes students have to withdraw from a course, or will need to repeat a year because of strong personal reasons.† Student Finance England call these 'compelling personal reasons' (CPR).† They could include for example; illness, or a personal or family crisis.

Where Student Finance England consider that a student is repeating study, or has failed to complete their most recent previous course†because of 'compelling personal reasons' they can award an extra year of Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance/Special Support Grant.

This is†in addition to the extra year that everybody has as part of their 'standard entitlement' and is awarded†in the first year of the new course, or for the year the student is repeating.

It is important, if you are repeating a year, or withdrawing from a course,†to let your university and Student Finance England know about any personal reasons for your decision.† This could help†when you apply for funding in the future.

If you think that you have compelling personal reasons for withdrawing from a previous course, or repeating a year, then speak to a Student Money Adviser to get help and advice.

  • Speak to a Student Money Adviser


  • Changing or leaving your course and previous study

    SFE Guide to taking a break or withdrawing

     

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