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Over the last six months, the University of Reading’s Student Financial Support Team has awarded more than £350,000 from the Student Support Fund and Digital Support Fund to help students facing financial hardship.

Additional funding of over £315,000 from the Office for Students means that further funds are available to help students. This money must be used to support students in hardship between 14th December 2020 and be spent by 31 March 2021.

Both the Student Support and Digital Support Funds are in place to support you and help when you need it most. Make sure you apply before 31 March 2021 to access this additional money.

What is the Student Support & the Digital Support Fund?

The Student Support Fund

The Student Support Fund is to help relieve unexpected financial hardship that might impact a student’s participation in higher education – whether because of the pandemic or other factors. Awards from the Student Support Fund can be used towards unexpected living costs up to £1,750 (single student) or £3,500 (student with dependants) and internet connectivity, specialist software, and IT-related study equipment costs up to £500.

Olivia received an award through the Student Support Fund to help her get by after losing her part-time job:

“For the last two years, I’ve had a part-time job working at a shop in the Oracle shopping centre. But I was on a zero-hour contract, as many students typically are. When lockdown began, I was simply not given any more work. I really needed that job but was left with nothing.

“I now feel financially covered for this term. It’s made a big difference, and I’m so relieved that I can now focus on my final year of studies.”

Digital Support Fund

The Digital Support Fund is a fund to help students with online learning and study costs. There are limited grants of £500 per student, designed to provide financial support towards internet connectivity, specialist software, and IT related study equipment costs. The £500 can be used as a contribution to buying a laptop and peripherals (mouse, keyboard, extra monitor, router, dongle etc.) or for paying broadband bills.

Marisha’s course required her to have specific analytical software which her laptop could not load. She received an award from the Digital Support Fund, which she put towards buying a new laptop so she could engage effectively with learning at home:

“I can actually work from home now, watch my pre-recorded lectures in my own time, and join in all the study group work on Microsoft Teams. This grant has enabled me to participate fully in my course and get the most out of my degree.”

Making it easier for you

The Student Financial Support Team have made it easier for you to apply and access hardship funding by:

  • Increasing the maximum award levels for students who need to reapply for financial support.
  • Increasing support for students experiencing hardship related to the purchase of IT equipment and connectivity services.
  • Introducing flexibility into the Digital Support Fund eligibility criteria.
  • Adapting calculations used in assessing Student Support Fund applications to better reflect the exceptional circumstances arising from the pandemic.

How do I apply?

More information about who is eligible for the Student Support Fund is available on Essentials, including details on maximum award levels. To apply for this fund, log into your RISIS Web Portal. Go to the “Actions” menu and then click on “Financial Support”. From this page, you will be able to read the guidance notes and click on the link “Begin/Continue application for financial support or bursary”. When you have completed your online application, you will get an acknowledgement email sent to you.

Full information on the Digital Support Fund is also on Essentials, including a full guidance note on applying. Once you have read the guidance and checked you are eligible, you can apply via the online form.

Who can I speak to about my application?

The Student Financial support team is available to provide advice and support on money-related matters, whether regarding your tuition fee or maintenance loan, Bursaries and Awards or advice on how we can support you if you are experiencing unexpected financial difficulties.

Virtual appointments are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 09:30 – 12:00 by booking online, or speak to a member of the team via phone: 0118 378 5555. You can also access free online support for managing your finances by using Blackbullion.

Apply now to access this additional money

Student Support Fund

Digital Support Fund

February is National Student Money Week

Get involved in #nsmw21 to learn how to protect your finances against any storm

  • Money tips
  • Free e-book
  • Bootcamp competition
  • Live financial planning webinars

Win on Instagram with The Student Financial Support Team – take our quiz online tomorrow (23 Feb), to be in for a chance to win amazon vouchers/pink fluffy pig toys!

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