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The following guidance applies to the Undergraduate Hardship Fund (Bell, Abbott and Barnes), Postgraduate Hardship Fund, Special Hardship Fund and Medical Support Fund (Crane's Charity)

Objective - to support current, partly or fully self-funded students who are in unforeseen financial difficulty and can show a gap in their budget that is sufficiently small for an award of up to £2,000 to enable them to complete the academic year of their course. 

Priority - funds are limited and priority will be given to self-funded students nearing the end of their course who arrived at the University with a clear and viable funding plan. 

General Guidance

All forms are submitted by the student (with the exception of the Undergraduate Hardship Fund) with supporting statements required from their College Tutor. Postgraduate students applying to the Postgraduate Hardship Fund also need a supporting statement from their Academic Supervisor (or equivalent academic in their department who can comment on their academic progress). 

Before completing their application, students must refer to the application guidance and checklist on the application form in order to ensure that all parts of the form have been completed properly. 

In cases where students apply multiple times for hardship funding during their course, their total award amount will be capped at the annual limit of £2,000 multiplied by the number of fee paying years of a course. Therefore, in most cases, the maximum a student can receive is £6,000. This resets when/if a student begins a new course. Undergraduate students with an exhibition are exempt. 

A Panel of academic staff oversee decisions on hardship funding applications, reporting to the University Hardship Committee. 

Appeals are not a part of the process and an explanation will be provided as to the reason for a refused application as part of the outcome email or letter. 

General Eligibility Principles 

These principles should be used in addition to the specific rules of the individual funds listed above. 

Financial planning and budgeting for the course

1. Students need to show they had made adequate financial provision for their course before they began and that their financial hardship is unforeseen.

2. All claims for assistance with living expenses should provide a budget of income and expenditure for the current academic year in which they are applying (and upcoming academic year if applying during the long vacation) and take account of expected costs (eg the cost of repatriation should only be claimed where it is in excess of any expected cost of returning to the student’s home country in that academic year). Evidence must be provided of exceptional costs, where these are substantial, to the Tutor. Higher costs need to be explained. For further information about expected costs, please see the links below:

Undergraduate students (Home/UK) 

Undergraduate students (Overseas)

Postgraduate students

3. Students need to show a gap in their budget that is small enough for hardship funding to make the difference to meet the gap. This will allow the focus of the limited resources to be on students for whom it can make the difference and allow them to complete their course. The general hardship funds award up to £2,000 per annum and the Cambridge University PGR Covid-19 Assistance Scheme (PGR CAS) provides up to £3,700. 

4. Students with evidence of capital/savings will ordinarily be refused and may reapply when their savings are used or virtually used up. 

5. Visa and Health Surcharge costs are not covered as a matter of course by University Hardship Funds unless they cause a student to fall into financial hardship. 

Applying for loans and approaching funding sponsors

6. University hardship funds should be a last resort after Government, Funding Sponsor, College and Department resources have been exhausted. Students should take advantage of the maximum Government educational loan that might be available for their studies (eg UK UG and PG loans, US and Canadian educational loans). 

Who can apply for support and the reasons 

7. Awards are made to support students directly. They should not be passed on as a means of financial support for parents/family members or be used to replace monies already passed on to support parents/family members. 

8. Students who are fully funded by an internal sponsor at Cambridge (eg Cambridge Trust) are not usually eligible to be considered for University hardship funding and should approach their sponsor instead. This allows the focus of the limited resources to be primarily on self-funded students who do not have recourse to a sponsor. 

9. University Hardship Funds should not provide extended funding for students fully supported by a sponsor unless it can be shown that the sponsor cannot fund the required extension. In such cases, a student may apply for University hardship funding only if they are currently facing financial hardship. It is worth bearing in mind that the level of hardship award granted for maintenance is below the level of scholarship stipends.

10. Awards are not given to support tuition fees. 

11. Students who face financial hardship whilst on intermission (when funding is normally suspended) may currently apply to the Special Hardship Fund once during their time on the course. Students eligible to receive sickness pay from their funder should pursue this option in the first instance. Please note that this funding may be very limited beyond the end of the 2021/22 academic year. 

The following students are not eligible for support from University Hardship Funds:

Ineligible courses/modes of study:

  • Non-award (degree) bearing courses at the Institute for Continuing Education (ICE) or elsewhere
  • Transition year students 
  • Higher doctoral students 
  • Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, Master of Studies students - if their course does not appear on the course directory and/or it is less than 9 months in length

Ineligible student status':

  • Students who are off the register/withdrawn and/or do not have a registered student status
  • Applicants (ie not registered students of the University)

Cut off dates for eligibility to apply:

  • Undergraduate students - after their first opportunity to graduate (except where the student is following a 4-year integrated course). Also, in line with the University's Care Leavers Covenant and Stand Alone Pledge, care leavers and estranged students may apply for support during the first 10 weeks after graduation.
  • Masters students - after their first opportunity to graduate
  • PhD students - after the submission of their soft-bound thesis (unless it is an application for support with thesis binding costs)

Applications received after these dates will not be accepted. 

To be aware of:

  • Support is not usually given to students in the last 2 months of their course. 
  • Support is not usually given to students who are applying as a result of a situation that happened some time ago. The reason for hardship should not normally have occurred more than one term prior.