Black Friday – Is it worth the hype?

Friday 26th November 2021 marks Black Friday in the UK and much of the Western world. It is a day when many retailers offer discounts on items and give customers the impression they are making huge savings. But in the competitive ecommerce society that we currently live in, do Black Friday Deals really save us any money at all?

According to Finder.com, the average Briton spent a whopping £295.67 (in 2020) across Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an increase of 39% on the previous year.

But are Black Friday Deals any cheaper or are we just lured in by flashy advertisements and the promise of huge discounts? Comparison company Which completed an investigation into Black Friday Deals in 2020, and found that 98% of the discounts advertised the previous year were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months after the sale ended. Take a look at the Which – How to avoid fake Black Friday deals article giving you 4 tips to help you check if a Black Friday deal is fake.

With numerous companies offering their own discounted sales days throughout the year and also being a student, you can access additional student discounts by making the most of UniDays, Student Beans and Totum, so is it worth heading out to the shops on this one day? Or should we budget and spend moderately throughout the year? Within the Financial Guidance Team, we would encourage students to follow the MoneySavingExpert mantra and to think carefully before spending and remember to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need it?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Will I use it?

If the answers are no, don’t buy it.  

However, if there is something that you need and you are heading out shopping, then take a look at the MoneySaving Expert guides and tools to help you shop smarter. Remember to budget your student loan, it is important to use this money wisely and effectively to ensure you are meeting all your essential costs throughout the year before being tempted by discounts and deals for items that you may not need.

Student Finance FAQs 2021/22

Throughout this blog, we are going to answer some of the most frequenlty asked questions we get at the start of term in regards to Student Finance and how you can get in contact with us.

I haven’t received my Student Maintenance Loan, what can I do? 

If you have been assessed for your funding by Student Finance England (or your regional funding provider) and have recently enrolled, it could be that the University has only just confirmed your attendance. This usually triggers your loan payment, however it can still take up to 5 days for any money to reach your account.  

If you have enrolled, but you haven’t yet been assessed by Student Finance England (or your regional funding provider), then we would encourage you to call them or check your online account for an update on your application. You may need to provide further information to support your application.  

  • Contact Student Finance England (SFE): 

For general information and to apply visit: www.gov.uk/student-finance 

Telephone:  0300 100 0607   

Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm    
Saturday and Sunday: 9am to 4pm   

  • Contact Student Finance Services (EU students): 

Telephone: 0141 243 3570  

Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm  

Saturday and Sunday: Closed  

I’ve only recently applied for student finance, how long will it take to be assessed?  

Applications usually take approximately 6 – 8 weeks, however, the start of term is a very busy time for processing applications and additional information. We would encourage you to check your online account for updates and call SFE (or your regional funding provider) if you have queries.  

Can I apply for any short-term loan until my student finance comes through?   

Students can apply for a short-term Bridging Loan of up to £500 (eligibility criteria apply). For further details and to apply online, click the button below.   

I’m not sure I have been assessed correctly for my Maintenance Loan, how can I check?   

f you’re worried and want to check if you’ve been assessed correctly for your funding, please use the Student Finance calculator to estimate the level of loan available as well as any extra student funding, for example if you have a disability or children. Please note this calculator is for students from England and EU students starting a new undergraduate course in 2021/22.   

Can the Financial Guidance Team contact Student Finance England (SFE) on my behalf?  

Yes. We would however encourage students to call SFE initially as this may resolve your query quickly. If you still require help and would like the team to contact SFE, you will need to set up a ‘consent to share’ to give permission. This allows the Financial Guidance team (or other Student Services team) to contact SFE (or your regional funding provider) to discuss your application on your behalf.   

  

To arrange this, please call SFE on 0300 100 06 07 and advise them that you would like to set up a ‘consent to share’ for the University of Northampton – they will usually ask for the institution name, as well as our relationship to you, which is ‘Higher Education Provider’ or HEP. They may also ask for the postcode of the University (NN1 5PH).   

  

You will then be asked for a password, which the Financial Guidance team will need to know to access your account – please contact us afterwards with this password.  

Is there additional support available from SFE for those with dependents or disabilities?   

Yes. SFE have additional support available for those with children or dependent adults as well as support for those with a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia), eligibility criteria apply. Please see a summary below:    

  • Parents Learning Allowance - up to £1,821 a year depending on your household income.  
  • Childcare Grant - up to 85% of weekly childcare costs (up to a maximum of £179.62 per week for one child or £307.95 per week for more than one child). 
  • Adult Dependents’ Grant – up to £3,190 a year depending on household income. 
  • Disabled Students Allowance  

For further information, visit the following Student Finance pages: Extra Help or Quick Start Guides

I’m studying a health professional course and I’ve heard about an additional training grant from the NHS, what is this and where can I find out more?  

Students who are studying on certain pre-registration undergraduate and postgraduate health professional courses such as nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy, podiatry, physiotherapy or paramedic science may be eligible for additional financial assistance from the NHS Learner Support Fund (eligibility criteria apply). Students may apply for this support in addition to the funding available from Student Finance England.

For further details and to apply, click here.

Useful contacts

Financial Guidance Team:    01604 893299   money@northampton.ac.uk   

Fee queries (Income Team):   01604 892327   income@northampton.ac.uk   

Scholarships Administrator: Scholarships@northampton.ac.uk  

If you need to contact the Financial Guidance Team to discuss your funding query, we would encourage you to call or email initially. If necessary, we can arrange a follow-up appointment.  

Come and see us!

The Financial Guidance Team, will be running drop in sessions on the ground floor of the learning hub between 10am and 2pm from Monday 4th October through until Tuesday 12th October. Feel free to come and see us with any questions or queries that you have surrounding your Student Finance.

Financial Support Available to you!

We know that in these unprecedented times you might be concerned about your finances and looking at additional funding options. We’ve compiled all the information that you will need about the additional funding you can apply for through the University’s Financial Guidance Team in one blog post for you.

Financial Assistance Fund

If you’re a UK / ‘Home’ student, you can still apply to the Financial Assistance Fund for support until the end of May. Please don’t wait until you have run out of money to apply to the Financial Assistance Fund, apply now.       

If you’re worried because your loan, grant or bursary doesn’t cover your everyday living and course costs, then apply now to the Fund. We will compare your income and your expenditure (including any changes of circumstances) over the academic year and see if you show a shortfall.         

If you are eligible, awards made range from £100 to a maximum of £4,500 and you will not usually have to pay this money back! There is no guarantee that you will receive an award, but you won’t know unless you apply.  

For those wanting to apply for financial support over the summer period only, the team hope to have the summer fund open from June, further details will be on the website when this is available.

Please note: The Fund is limited and awards will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Receiving an award from the fund is not guaranteed

Who can apply?

To be eligible to apply to the Financial Assistance Fund, you must:

  • Be a UK (‘Home’) student.
  • Be enrolled on an undergraduate or postgraduate University of Northampton course for the current academic year.
  • Have taken your full entitlement of statutory funding (including maintenance loans) in the current academic year, from Student Finance England/ Student Finance Wales/ Student Finance Northern Ireland/ Student Awards Agency for Scotland and/or NHS funding (NHS Learning Support Fund for new healthcare students).

You can find the full list of eligibility criteria on the Financial Assistance Fund page.

To apply, you must complete the Financial Assistance Fund application form (including all relevant sections) and send it to us with your supporting evidence (PDF format only). The deadline for applications is the end of May, and further information to support your application can be accepted until the start of July, subject to funds remaining available.

Help us to help you.

We appreciate that gathering evidence for your application may take time, however you should have all the information required already. For most applications, the most time-consuming part is gathering copies of bank statements. To help us assess your application quickly and to avoid us asking for further information, please refer to the list of supporting evidence on the application form. Below we have listed some top tips:

  • Remember to include a copy of 3 months bank statements for all accounts held by you (and for your partner if you have one). You may have many accounts, some you may use often and others that you don’t use as much (such as savings accounts), the team need to have a copy of bank statements for all accounts held
  • Ensure the bank statements clearly show your account name, account number and sort code details, so that we can identify the account as yours. If your statement doesn’t show all these details, you may need to submit further information which shows this.  
  • If you have any transfers to other accounts, please ensure these transfers are explained and ensure you have provided the team with a copy of the bank statements for these accounts.  

If your application is missing any evidence, the team will request this by email and this will delay the assessment of your application.

Additional support available to you.

You might also be eligible to apply for additional financial support through the Financial Assistance Fund for the following:

EU Students

If you’re from the EU (and have applied for a Tuition fee loan from Student Finance Services or a Masters loan from Student Finance England), you may be eligible to apply for the EU Hardship Fund instead (eligibility criteria apply).

The deadline for applications and supporting evidence is the start of July, subject to funds remaining available.

University Mental Health Day 2021 – Money and Mental Heath.

University Mental Health Day is a significant day throughout Universities in the UK. For many, this past year of Covid-19 and its restrictions has had a significant impact on their Mental Health. One element that can have a significant impact on an individual’s Mental Health is their financial situation.

For anyone struggling financially, be it because their Student Loan isn’t stretching far enough, they’ve faced redundancy, been placed on Furlough because of the Covid-19 Pandemic or they have been unable to find work , this can make the management of their money considerably harder. For individuals with money worries – this can make their mental health worse. It is somewhat of a vicious cycle.

Flow chart diagram showing a circular flow between 'Poor mental health means managing money is harder' and 'Worry about money makes my mental health worse'.
From Source.

Many students would usually find work within the hospitality sector such as local pubs, bars, restaurants and night clubs or within the retail sector, as this often fits alongside their studies. With  these areas having been impacted massively during the Covid-19 pandemic – with some areas not expected to re-open until the middle of June, this has had a huge impact on the options available to students. In yesterday’s budget announcement, it was announced that the Furlough scheme would be extended until September, so many may face the continuation of life on 80% of their normal income but still having to balance this against their usual living costs.

However, for those who have not been on furlough and may have lost their jobs or not been able to find work at all, University life may have been very challenging over these last few months.

With so many 18-24 year olds facing a loss of employment and many of those being University students,having an understanding of how your finances can impact your Mental Health and being aware of the support available to you, is vital.

Many individuals who are experiencing difficulties with their mental health, may feel anxious and isolated (especially so within the current climate) and may find the management of their finances challenging. However, the University of Northampton have a Counselling and Mental Health Team and Financial Guidance Team who are here to provide information and support to help you.  You can find out more about the Counselling and Mental Health Team here:

Find out more about University Mental Health Day here:

Please find below more information about the  financial assistance and support offered by the University.

Hardship funds

The University of Northampton has recently received funding from the Office for Students (OfS) to help students who are struggling financially due to the impact of Covid-19. There are two funds currently available to  students at the University of Northampton, which are:

  1.  The Office for Students (OfS) Covid-19 Hardship Fund
  2. The Office for Students (OfS) Accommodation Hardship Fund

Both funds offer support of up to £500 per student and you can apply for both if you meet the eligibility criteria.  To find out more and to apply for these funds, please visit the Finances section of the Student hub or click the buttons bellow.

The Financial Guidance Team also offers other funds such as the Financial Assistance Fund and EU Hardship Fund. They also have funds to support Care Leaver/Foyer/Estranged Students, a Carers Award, financial support for those who require a diagnostic assessment as part of their DSA application and a DSA top-up support (eligibility criteria apply). The team also has a partnership with the local Citizens Advice office who can offer advice and information for those with complex queries.

Student Finance – Home and EU Students*

The majority of Home and EU students at the University of Northampton receive some level of funding from Student Finance  (dependent on their home region). For some, their eligibility for funding  may have potentially changed with current circumstances, if you have had a change in circumstances and need to find out more about how this may impact on you, you may wish to contact your funding provider directly, please find details below:

Student Finance England

NHS Student Bursaries Team

Student Awards Agency for Scotland

Student Finance Northern Ireland

Student Finance Wales

*Those whose course started within the 2020-2021 Academic Year

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

Students experiencing mental health difficulties may be eligible for DSA. Students experiencing mental health difficulties may not identify as disabled; however, for many experiencing mental health difficulties, it can be disabling and have an impact on your access to education.

For more information about DSA, the eligibility criteria  and how to apply, please click here:  

Money management and Mental Health go hand in hand. If you have any questions about any of the above funding or want to find out more email money@northampton.ac.uk.

A Covid -19 Accommodation Hardship Fund is now available for all eligible University of Northampton Students.

The University of Northampton has received money from the Office for Students (OfS) to help support students who are struggling with the costs of their student accommodation, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The University of Northampton Financial Guidance Team have therefore set up a new Accommodation Hardship Fund.

The Office for Students (OfS) Accommodation Hardship Fund can offer support to students who are renting student accommodation (both University Halls of Residence or Private Sector accommodation) and who are facing financial hardship because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To be eligible to apply for this fund, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be enrolled on a University of Northampton Higher Education course. The Fund will be available to all Home, EU and International Students who are enrolled on a full-time or part-time, Undergraduate or Postgraduate course or studying with a University of Northampton Sub-Contract partner.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have student accommodation costs to pay. The Fund is aimed at those who cannot live at home and are currently living in University of Northampton Halls of Residence or Private Sector student accommodation OR those who are currently living at home but are still paying rent for student accommodation.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you are in financial hardship. This could be a loss of an income stream which you rely on, such as a loss of employment or reduced working hours/furlough, you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or have incurred additional costs due to Covid-19 and have access to limited funds. You will need to provide copies of your bank statements to demonstrate your access to limited funds.
  • You cannot apply for this fund if you have applied for and are eligible to receive a rent rebate on your rental contract with the University of Northampton Halls of Residence. All applications will be checked with the Accommodation Team.
  • You cannot apply for this fund if you are living in your own home (mortgage or renting) and are therefore not paying additional rent for student accommodation.

Please be aware that the OfS Accommodation Hardship Fund is limited and applications will be processed in date order by the Financial Guidance Team. Awards are restricted to one per student; up to a maximum award of £500.

To apply for the OfS Accommodation Hardship Fund you must complete the online application form which you can find on the Student Hub:

For further information about this fund and other funds offered by the Financial Guidance Team, please visit the Finances pages!

To allow the team to process your application as quickly as possible, please ensure you have provided all your supporting documents. This includes a copy of your tenancy agreement as well as a copy of bank statements for ALL the accounts held by you as well as any other supporting evidence that can help your application.

Many students are failing to submit all their bank statements, which means we need to ask for further information and results in a delay with your assessment. Please help us to help you, by providing all your information when you submit your application.

The deadline to apply is Wednesday 17 March 2021. All application forms and any supporting evidence must be received by this date and will not be accepted after this date.

The team have already received a large number of applications. Funds are limited, so please be aware that funds could be fully allocated before the deadline date is reached.

If you would like to find out more about this fund or other support offered by the University, please visit the University of Northampton Finances page:

Moved back home for the January term? What does it mean for me?

Like the majority of University Students in the UK, you will be spending your first term of 2021 at the University of Northampton working from home. That is unless you’re on an allied health professional course. With so many students now moving back home the Student Loans Company (SLC) have released new guidance.

Throughout this blog post we’ve broken down the information in an easy way to help you understand it quickly. (This information is for those who receive their loan from Student Finance England)  The full information in regards to it can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-for-students-who-have-moved-back-home-in-the-january-term

No matter where you live during your period of study your Tuition Fee loan is exactly the same. However your Maintenance Loan is dependent on where you live during term times. They are the following:

A screen shot of the 2020 to 2021 academic year Maintenance Loan table. Living at home - up to £7,747. Living away from home, outside London up to £9,203. Living away from home, in London - up to £12,010.
A screen shot of the 2020 to 2021 academic year M;aintenance Loan table.

For individuals studying at the University of Northampton, you only need to worry about Living at home or Living away from home, outside of London. The approve image shows the maximum amount of loan an individual can get. Maintenance Loans are means tested dependent on household income.

Take a look at this really useful article by Save The Student which explains Maintenance Loans and how they work: https://www.savethestudent.org/student-finance/maintenance-loans.html

Under normal situations, if you were to move back home during term time you would be reassessed and your loan amount would be reduced to the ‘Living at home’ rate. Currently, the UK Government has made the decision for those students who are still having to pay accommodation costs – both in on and off campus/private  accommodation will not be reassessed. This is to provide students who are still paying rent the financial support that they need during these extraordinary circumstances.

Do you need to tell the SLC if you have moved back home?

You only need to do this if you have moved back home properly. By that we mean that you are no longer having to payout for accommodation costs such as rent. If you are still having to pay for accommodation costs, please do NOT update your SLC account as they will re-asses you to the ‘Living at Home’ rate of loan for this January.

However, if you have moved home properly make sure to update you account to reflect your new living situation. This will allow your rate of loan to reflect your living situation and will amend the amount that you will potentially pay back.

To update your information about you living accommodation and to make any changes, visit you SLC online account here.

If you are undecided about your accommodation in the future and plan on moving away from home in the third term, due to the uncertainty of how Covid-19 will affect face to face and remote teaching and learning, the Government advice and guidance will be updated accordingly. As soon an we know anything else, we will update this blog accordingly.

Can you get any extra funding costs to cover the costs of moving back home and studying at home?

For many people working from their ‘home’ home is not as effective as whilst working at University. For many people they have experienced some new costs and unplanned expenditure. For many students who have had their income reduced due to being furloughed or because of their loss of employment this can be an extremely challenging time.

However, you cannot get any extra funding from the SLC to cover the costs of ‘living at home’ For those receiving the Maintenance Loan for living at home, should be able to cover the costs associated with living at home. For those of receiving the ‘living away from home’ rate of Maintenance Loan will continue to do so to cover costs such as accommodation.

The University of Northampton, has received money from the Office for Students (OfS) and is able to provide a Covid Hardship Fund which all students are eligible for provided they meet the requirement criteria. The Covid Hardship Fund, can be used for students to purchase equipment that they may need to work effectively from ‘home’ home or to cover short fallings brought in by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To find out more about the Covid-19 Hardship fund, take a look at our recent blog post here.

If you’re still to apply for Student Finance this year, what should you put on your application for living arrangements for this term?

If you are going to be at home for the majority of this January term – with the current uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, this could be extremely likely. Yet, you’re still having to pay accommodation costs for you accommodation away from home such as rent. You should still put ‘living away from home’ for this term on your application. If you won’t have these costs, then put ‘living at home’.

If you still have accommodation costs, even through you’ve moved back home and don’t want the higher rate of loan?

You must inform the SLC in regards to any changes to your contact address by logging into you account. If you do not want to continue receiving the higher Maintenance Loan of ‘living away from home’, you’ll need to update the extra step when updating your contact address to tell us about your change of living arrangements fo the majority of this January term.

Once that change has been made, they will re-asses your student finance and reduce your entitlement for the January term. If you have already received the higher rate as your January Maintenance Loan payment, the SLC will recover the ‘overpayment’ from future payments.

If you receive your student finance from Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland?

The current information about the ‘living away from home’ loan rate mentioned throughout this blog, focusses on those receiving funding fro Student Finance England. However, the rules are pretty much the same, if you are still having to pay for accommodation costs whilst living at home due to Covid-19 restrictions, you will still be entitled to the ‘living away from home’ Maintenance Loan.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about your student finance, feel free to contact the University of Northampton Financial Guidance Team by either emailing money@northampton.ac.uk or visiting the Financial Guidance page of the Student Hub.

The SLC has a team of expert advisers available on their social media channels, so if there is anything you need to contact them about you can submit your questions via either Facebook and Twitter.

A Covid-19 Hardship Fund is now available for all eligible University of Northampton Students.

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entirety of the world. The financial implications of such have been felt by many, but especially by University Students. With many students struggling with the loss of part time work, being placed on a reduced income because of furlough and the increased expenditures that often come with being at home.  

The University of Northampton have received additional funds from the Office for Students (OfS) to support students through this extremely difficult and uncertain time. The OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund, is available to all students studying at the University of Northampton, to support those who are facing financial hardship as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund can offer short term support only, with its intended purpose to be a contribution towards essential costs for those who have had a reduction in earnings or have lost their income, or those who have additional costs due to the result of the current pandemic. The Financial Guidance team will not consider requests for support towards the cost of fines issued by the University or the Police as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Fund will be available to all University of Northampton Home, EU and International students who are enrolled on a full-time or part-time, Undergraduate or Postgraduate course or studying with a University of Northampton Sub-Contract partner. Please be aware that the OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund is limited and applications will be processed in date order by the Financial Guidance Team. 

The awards available will be capped as follows: 

  • ‘Home’/UK students without dependents: £300 
  • ‘Home’/UK students with dependents: £500 
  • EU students who are eligible to receive the Tuition Fee Loan support only/International Students: £500 

To apply for the OfS Covid-19 Hardship fund, please complete the application which can be found on the Student Hub: 

The deadline for all applications is Wednesday 17th March 2021. The Financial Guidance Team will not be able to accept any applications submitted after this date. Please be aware that funds are limited and may be fully allocated before this deadline date. 

The Financial Guidance team have created a Frequently Asked Questions document, which can be found here:

Coronavirus and student finance – FAQs

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life dramatically – it’s a very confusing and anxious time for many, and although the primary focus is health, there is likely to be an impact on money too. 

However, we have compiled some Frequently Asked Questions which can help if you have any queries about finances during this time.

Continue reading “Coronavirus and student finance – FAQs”