The Advice Team is a professional service always here to help you resolve your problems.

A Suspension of Study is taking time out of your course and is sometimes called interrupting your studies. There are many reasons for doing this: it may be due to personal or medical reasons which mean you cannot continue, or perhaps you need time to step back and consider whether your course is right for you.

The student finance information outlined below is for full-time home undergraduate students covered under the Education (Student Support) Regulations and receiving support from Student Finance England. Arrangements may vary slightly for those applying to other authorities and those students should seek advice.

Arranging to take time out of your course and return at a later date can be quite straightforward. You will need to contact your Course Leader so you can agree the date you will leave and the date you anticipate returning. You need to complete a Notification of Suspension of Sudies form. The University will then contact your national Student Finance Service (e.g. SFE) to confirm this information so that your student finance can be kept open ready for your return.

Both the amount of fees you will be liable to pay and the grant/loan funding available for fees and living costs will be determined by the precise date on which you suspend your studies.

The official date of suspension of studies will be determined and this will be communicated directly to the relevant student finance service through the normal channels. The precise date is usually based on when you confirm in writing your intention to suspend but you should be aware of the deadlines set out below.

At BCU, tuition fees for Home/EU undergraduate students are calculated on termly basis and, when a student leaves before the end of the academic year, they are charged a portion of the tuition fee based on the number of terms they were in attendance.

Grants and Loans for living costs are payable in termly instalments and the total paid is to cover from the first day of term until the first day of the next term. This is known as the payment period.

The Maintenance Grant, Special Support Grant, Adult Dependants Grant and Parents Learning Allowance are paid in respect of 365 days. Where a student suspends their course part-way through a payment period, a reassessment of these grants should normally be based on the number of days that the student was undertaking, or can be treated as undertaking on the course from the first day of the academic year to the date of suspension. This is likely to result in an overpayment of grant, repayment of which is likely to be requested immediately or taken directly from any future grant entitlement. Help is available during any negotiations with Student Finance England from the Advice Team if needed.

The Maintenance Loan is paid in respect of each term (a payment period). When a student interrupts their course their entitlement to a loan will be reassessed, this will be calculated on the basis of 33% in the first term, 66% in the second term and 100% in the third term. If a student suspends part way through a payment period then the student's entitlement to the loan amount paid in that period will normally be retained. Once you have left University you only start repaying your loan when your income is above a certain threshold.

Full-time and part-time students who start their course after 1 September 2012 begin paying back their student loan once they earn more than £25,725/year.

You will not normally be able to receive student finance payments during a period of suspension. Your eligibility for student finance will normally stop on your last date of attendance (see above) and payments will normally resume when you return (see below).

Students who interrupt due to health grounds are entitled to further funding for 60 days after the date of suspension (i.e. SFE has to pay you your funding).

While there is no automatic access to student loans or grants during a period of interruption, in cases where this will cause financial hardship you can write to SFE to request they consider providing ‘funding through a period of interruption’. You should apply to:

Student Finance England
PO Box 210
Darlington DL1 9HJ

Points to include are:

  • Reason for interruption and evidence, e.g. ill health;
  • Length of interruption; and
  • Evidence of financial hardship, e.g. 3 months bank statements, a copy of your rent agreement if you need to carry on paying rent, your availability to do paid work.

Contact the Advice Team for further advice and help with this.

Our advisers will also be able to advise you whether you fall into one of the categories of students who are eligible to receive benefit payments during your absence (e.g. single parents, disabled students, pensioners, student couples with children, etc). The rules are complicated and you should seek advice from the Advice Team.

Your liability for tuition fees and eligibility for student finance payments will depend on when you choose to return and whether you have to repeat any part of your course.

You should contact your School Office to confirm what fees you will have to pay on your return. If you return at the start of the academic year and will be enrolled for the whole year, you will normally incur the whole year's fee. If you will be returning part way through the year, you may pay a reduced fee.

If your absence is brief and you are able to return and pick up your studies later in the same academic year, you are only entitled to a tuition fee loan for the terms you are in attendance at University.

You and the University will need to notify Student Finance England of the date of your return, so they can calculate exactly what payments you are due to receive.

If you have exactly one year away and re-join the course at the same point at which you left, then your student finance should simply be reinstated.

If you go back and re-start the year, there is likely to be a period of repeat study and whether you are eligible for student finance during this extra period of time will depend on the previous study rules. Our repeating part of your course page will give you more information about this.

Further advice

If you are faced with having to take time out of your course and want to discuss the financial implications, or if you have any difficulty liaising with Student Finance England regarding your absence, please contact the Advice Team in the first instance and we will arrange for you to speak with one of our advisers.

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