The Living Expenses Support Scheme (LESS) is here to help students who are in need of additional financial support during the academic year.
The scheme aims to help and award students with an additional grant that can be used to meet any maintenance needs, such as rental costs, travel costs, childcare costs, day-to-day costs etc. The scheme cannot be used to pay tuition fees.
Am I eligible to apply?
The scheme is open to ‘home’ status students only. Normally this would mean that you have been a UK resident for at least the last five years before starting your course and are in receipt of full Student Finance support.
You are not eligible to apply if you are:
- not enrolled at the University of Westminster
- an undergraduate student that has not applied for or taken out the maximum student support available from student finance including the maintenance loan. This includes applying for finance based on your household income
- an EU undergraduate student getting the 2020–21 tuition fee loan only
- a postgraduate student who has chosen not to take the full £11,222 master’s loan
- a self-funded student with tuition fees outstanding – this includes postgraduate students in receipt of the master’s loan as the loan is paid directly to the student
- an EU postgraduate student who has not lived in the UK for more than five years before the first day of the first academic year of their course
- enrolled on a conversion or professional course, such as the GDL, CILEx, ACCA, CIMA, RIBA (part 3) and the Legal Practice Postgraduate Diploma
- a PG Dip, PhD, MPhil or other research student. Please note MRes students in receipt of the full master’s loan are eligible to apply
I’m a full-time undergraduate student
You will need to show you have taken the maximum student support available to you from student finance including the maintenance loan. This includes applying for finance based on your household income. Read more on student finance on the Gov.uk website.
- Pre-September 2016 students: you must have been assessed for the maintenance grant and taken the full maintenance loan offered to you
- September 2016 onwards: full maintenance loan (grant not available)
In addition to this, usually students should have taken out the full tuition fee loan.
I’m a part-time undergraduate student
If you started your course before September 2018, you must be studying at least 25% of the full-time equivalent course and have applied for the part-time Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance England.
If you started your course after September 2018, you must be studying at least 25% of the full-time equivalent course and have applied for the part-time Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance and also be getting the full part-time maintenance loan based on your household income.
All part-time students are expected to show they have made adequate provision to fund their studies. By adequate we mean having a weekly income that is at least the same level as the composite living cost (CLC) as laid down by the National Association of Student Money Advisors (NASMA).
For example, the CLC for a single person is £129 per week. Failure to demonstrate adequate provision may result in a reduction in any award made or even a rejection of the application.
I’m a module retriever
Full-time undergraduate students retrieving modules on a part-time basis must be attending classes and must also have taken their full entitlement of student loan.
I’m an Assessment Only student
Assessment only students should include with their application a letter from their Registry showing the coursework (with submission dates) and exams that have to be completed during 2020/21.
I’m a full-time postgraduate student
Guidelines are followed which assume that a student receives a minimum income level per week, regardless of whether or not this is the case. It is expected that students will have made adequate provision for tuition fees and living costs for themselves and any dependants before starting their course.
This could include income from earnings, a partner’s earnings, savings, loans – including the master’s Loan (ML), overdrafts etc. You must have applied for the master’s Loan to be eligible to apply to the Living Expenses Support Scheme.
You must have paid the tuition fees in full for the whole academic year before you can submit an application.
I’m a part-time postgraduate student
You must be studying at least 25% of the full-time equivalent course in the 2020–21 academic year.
You must also have applied for the master’s Loan to be eligible to apply to the Living Expenses Support Scheme.
Postgraduate students must have paid the tuition fees in full for the whole academic year before they can apply to the scheme.
How is my application assessed?
The Student Funding team will assess your application. When deciding about an award, we look at the shortfall between your expenditure (as defined by the NASMA national guidelines) and your expected income.
Please note that non-essential expenditure may be taken into account and could reduce your award or even result in your application being rejected. Examples of this type of expenditure includes online gambling, private school fees, private healthcare and excessive spending on social activities.
If your application is incomplete or does not contain all the requested documentation, it will delay our decision. Please note that we reserve the right to request additional information if it would help with assessing your application.
How much will I be awarded?
An award can be anywhere between £100 and (in exceptional circumstances) £3,000. The exact amount of award will be determined by the University depending on the level of financial need you demonstrate. Please bear in mind that demand always exceeds the funds available, so any award made will not cover the full shortfall you have, and you should not assume that you receive an award until you are notified.
How will I be notified and paid?
We aim to provide a written decision within approximately 6 weeks of your application being submitted, although at very busy times this may not always be possible.
You will receive an email telling you of our decision and if successful, the expected payment date which is usually 2 weeks after. Once we receive confirmation of payment, you will then get an award email telling you the value of your award.
Some of our funding comes from individual donors, so if the scheme has helped and you want to let our donors know, you can email [email protected]. Your feedback will help support our efforts in persuading other donors to support these financial support schemes. We will also send out a short survey as your opinion and feedback are valued and vital for us to provide the best support and service to our students as possible.
Still not sure whether to make an application?
You might not want to apply because you think there are more deserving cases than yours. Please know the assessment calculations we make will determine if you are showing financial need, so we would always encourage you to apply. The purpose of the scheme is to assist as many eligible students as possible.
Last year 62% of the students who applied for LESS received an award from the fund.
How do I apply?
Please complete and return the application form and supporting documents in PDF format to [email protected].
Because of the current pandemic, we can only accept applications via email. If your phone has a camera you could use it to scan the documents. For example, Genius App allows you to take pictures and scan documents remotely on your phone and send to various platforms. The app is free of charge, easy to use and an eligible scan. It is easier to read the documents submitted this way, rather than as individual photos.