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The following guidance applies to the Undergraduate Hardship Fund, Postgraduate Hardship Fund, Special Hardship Fund and Medical Support Fund

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 to be covered by an award of up to:

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

Students may apply directly to each fund using the application form on MS Forms. Please note that your College Tutor will be required to complete a support form in support of your application. If you are applying to the Postgraduate Hardship Fund, your Academic Supervisor will also be required to complete a support form.

Before completing your application, you 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. 

If you have applied multiple times for hardship funding during your course, please note that your award amount will be capped at the annual limit multiplied by the number of fee paying years of your course. This resets when/if you begin a new course. 

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. 

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 you 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 your College 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. 

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. 

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. Awards are not given to support tuition fees. 

10. Students who face financial hardship whilst on intermission (when funding is normally suspended) may apply to the Special Hardship Fund and the Medical Support Fund for support with medical costs (eg counselling). Students eligible to receive sickness pay from their funder should pursue this option in the first instance. 

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
  • 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 statuses:

  • 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 the completion of course requirements. 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 the completion of course requirements/course completion date, whichever is sooner. 
  • 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.