Money Advice Service

We put your questions from the Coronavirus and your money Facebook group to Tom from Save The Student. Below is a write up of what was covered in the video.

1. Our private landlord is still charging us rent even though the whole house has gone back to their parents, do we still need to pay it?

If your contract is still running, you should still be paying your rent. However, you can try the following options:

  • Try contacting the landlord to ask for flexibility/reduced payments if you’re having difficulty paying at this time. If they’ve had a mortgage holiday, or if your bills are included in your rent, they may be willing to pass the savings on. Find out more information in our article Help with rent arrears and problems with paying your rent.
  • Check your tenancy agreement to see if you have a break clause (these are often available six months into a contract).

Note that if you have an individual tenancy agreement (i.e. only your name is on it and your flatmates all have their own too) then you’re only responsible for paying your own portion of the rent. However, if it’s a joint tenancy agreement then you’re all liable for making sure the rent is paid in full.

If you have a guarantor, they will be responsible for paying the rent if you’re unable to. If you’re worried you won’t be able to make rent payments, talk to your guarantor and landlord to ensure they’ll be able to do it for you.

2. I was studying abroad but I flew home when I heard flights were being stopped, where do I stand, money-wise?

If you’re still continuing your studies remotely, the Student Loans Company have said that tuition fees and living cost loans will still be paid “as planned”.

The Student Loans Company (which covers England, Northern Ireland and Wales) have said that all travel grant requests can still be submitted and processed as normal as long as you’ve spent at least 50% of your term abroad.

For Scottish students, SAAS have also confirmed that you should still be able to claim for the cost of your return flight, even if you’ve left your course early.

3. I was let go from my pub job when the virus hit, but before furlough was announced, what should I do?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has now extended the cut-off date to 19th March, by which point you must have been employed and on the company’s payroll.

Even if you were let go before this was all announced, the government has explicitly said that employers can rehire and furlough employees who were let go due to coronavirus.

4. My student loan hasn’t arrived yet, are payments being affected by COVID-19?

Student Loans Company (England, Northern Ireland and Wales) and SAAS (Scotland) have said that all payments will go ahead as normal, regardless of whether or not your uni has made alternative arrangements for teaching.

Remember that the third payment of the year doesn’t come through until your university’s summer term officially starts. If you’re unsure when this is, check on your Student Finance account or Google “[your uni name] term dates”.

In Scotland, student loan payments arrive monthly, paid on the 7th of each month.

5. My university is one of the few who hasn’t waived our accommodation fees for uni halls, what can I do?

If your contract is still running and no other arrangements have been made by the uni, you must pay your rent (not doing so could have adverse consequences for you).

However, student groups across the country have successfully protested against their universities’ decisions to continue charging rent. Get in touch with representatives at your student union to find

Government ministers across the UK have written to universities and accommodation providers asking them to be sympathetic to students, whether it’s because they’re trying to break their tenancy agreements early or need to extend it beyond its current term as they’re unable to return home.

You could also speak to your uni directly if you’re experiencing particular financial difficulties, there are often hardship grants available for students. This will depend on your particular university, however.

6. My post-grad loan only covers my tuition fees and I can’t go into my part-time job because I live with vulnerable family members – is there any help I can get?

Speak to work about the possibility of being furloughed. Find more information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme here.

If that’s not possible, you might be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP).

Unfortunately, full-time students are usually ineligible for Universal Credit. You might still be able to claim Universal Credit under certain circumstances, for example if you’re responsible for children under 18 or are living with a disability.

There are more details about claiming UC as a student on the GOV.UK website.

It could also be a good idea to speak to your university about hardship funds.

In Scotland, the government has put in place a £5 million package of emergency support for students in higher/further education struggling as a result of coronavirus.

7. I’m supposed to be starting university next year, should I continue with my application as normal? What about booking my place in halls?

If you’re applying to start in September 2020, you will need to have already submitted your application (otherwise you’ll need to wait until clearing opens at the beginning of July).

UCAS has said that university applications will still be processed as normal, so if you still want to go to uni, don’t cancel your application. UCAS have given students an extra two weeks (until the 19th of May) to finalise choices.

As for accommodation, each uni will have its own policy – but we’d recommend booking a place if you can, as currently there are no official plans not to return in person in September.

8. I’ve been furloughed from my retail job, but as it’s only part-time the 80% doesn’t cover much, what should I do when I can’t pay my phone bill?

Check to see if your phone contract has expired – if so, you can cancel at no extra charge and either live without a phone, switch to a much cheaper SIM only deal or try pay as you go for a while.

You can also call your network to explain your circumstances and try to come to an agreement for reduced payments or payment holidays.

9. I already applied for next year’s student finance, but my parents’ income has changed because of all this coronavirus stuff, what should I do – I think I might be entitled to a bigger loan now.

You can apply for what’s known as a Current Year Income Assessment, and can even use it for the final payment of this academic year.

Usually, your student finance entitlement is assessed on your parents’ income from a year or two ago, but you can ask to be assessed on this year’s income if you think their income has dropped by at least 15%.

Your parents or guardians will need to submit proof of income and at the end of the tax year (next April) to show how much they actually earned across the year.

If it turned out to be more than the amount they projected (and therefore you were entitled to a smaller loan than you were given), you will need to immediately repay anything you were overpaid. You can work out a repayment plan with the Student Loans Company.

Note that in Scotland, unlike in the rest of the UK, maintenance loans are calculated in brackets rather than specific household incomes. You can only apply for reassessment if your income has dropped into a different band.

Find the bands below:

Young students*

Household income Bursary Loan Total
£0 to £20,999 £2,000 £5,750 £7,750
£21,000 to £23,999 £1,125 £5,750 £6,875
£24,000 to £33,999 £500 £5,750 £6,250
£34,000 and above £0 £4,750 £4,750

Independent students**

Household income Bursary Loan Total
£0 to £20,999 £1,000 £6,750 £7,750
£21,000 to £23,999 £0 £6,750 £6,750
£24,000 to £33,999 £0 £6,250 £6,250
£34,000 and above £0 £4,750 £4,750

*single students under the age of 25 with no dependent children
**students over the age of 25

10. Is it possible to receive a break on student loan repayments whilst on furlough or when my income is reduced because of coronavirus?

Student loan repayments are income-contingent, so you only have to make repayments when you’re earning over the threshold. If your income drops, then your student loan repayments should also get smaller.

Find more information about repaying your student loan.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.