This article gives information about the financial implications of taking time out of your course if you are a UK student and where to go for more advice.
Deciding if you want to take time out of your studies is a big decision. In addition to deciding what is best for you, you will also need permission from your university. It is important that you seek advice and talk your options through with someone who can guide you appropriately. Different rules will apply to certain courses, and most institutions will have student advice centres where staff are experienced in giving advice on this subject. While it is tempting to only talk to friends and family, they may not be able to advise about the full range of options available. Many institutions will require students to have a 'suspension discussion' as part of the process of taking time out to make sure students are fully informed about what will happen next.
Here are some of the financial matters you will need to think about and talk through.
Will I still be able to receive my student finance? - once you decide to take time out, your university will inform student finance that you have suspended your studies. Student finance will subsequently stop any further maintenance payments to you. They will recalculate your entitlement based on how many days or weeks you have attended your course. In some cases this may mean you will have been overpaid and owe them some money. Don't panic as this does not need to be repaid straight away. Instead it will be deducted from your future payments when you return to your course. In some instances, you can request that you continue to receive your funding throughout the suspension period. Talk to an adviser in your institution about how this works.
What will I live on? Thinking about what you will live on while taking time out is important as most students will not receive any student funding and not be able to claim benefits during this time. The benefits system is complicated but unless you have an underlying eligibility for benefits such as having the care of a child or ongoing health issues you will not normally be able to claim benefits. Speak to an adviser in your institution if you think this may apply to you.
Will I still be charged a tuition fee? - Unless you are an international student your university will normally charge you a percentage of the whole years fee based on what point in the year you start your suspension.
|Once you pass this point in the year:-||Charge|
|1st day of term one||25% of full years fee|
|1st day of term two||50% of full years fee|
|1st day of term three||100% of full years fee|
If you have a tuition fee loan approved, the loan can still be used to pay the percentage of the years fee you owe. Your university will change the amount that they request from student finance on your behalf.
When you return the following year, you will normally be charged the balance of the full years fee. Check what this will be with an adviser.
Do I still have to pay for my accommodation? - in most cases you will still have to pay. However, all accommodation contracts vary so this is definitely one area you will need to check and get advice on.
Do I have to pay Council Tax? - You remain a full-time student for Council Tax purposes during any periods of suspension. This means you are still exempt from paying Council Tax.
What happens when I return to my studies? - if you are returning in the following academic year you will need to remember to reapply for your funding at the right time. For September start courses this will normally be around March but the advisers in your university can confirm this for you.
All students are eligible for funding for the length of the course plus an additional year. Further years of funding are also available if you need to take time out of your studies on health grounds or for other personal reasons. If you have already used your additional year of funding, then talk to someone in your university about securing further years of funding.
Disability Rights UK
Information about disabled students and benefits
Student Finance Wales
Information for students from Wales about taking time out of your studies
Student housing charity