Lauren Bolz

VP Graduates

COVID-19 Hardship Fund Update

Covid-19 Hardship Fund Update

Hi everyone! 

As a follow up to my post about funding options for students facing rent increases, council tax and continuation fees, I wanted to direct everyone to the newly updated guidance on the COVID-19 Hardship Fund: https://www.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus/students/hardship-fund.

Here are some of the key points: 

  • The fund can provide grants of up to £5,000 to students whose finances have been negatively affected by the pandemic since they began their studies at Oxford and are facing financial hardship as a result. This could relate to, but is not limited to:

    • Continuation fees for those students who need to extend their research programme 

    • Unplanned living costs for those students who need to extend their research programme 

    • Cancellation of external funding awards 

  • When applying for the CHF to cover pandemic-related expenses, students should also mention any other factors which have compounded their financial difficulties, even if they are not directly attributable to the pandemic. These could relate to (among many other things): 

    • Increases in accommodation costs 

    • Council tax 

  • Applications are being accepted until Friday 4 June 2021 (6th week, Trinity term).  

  • You can apply by talking to your College Hardship Officer. 

 

Key wins: Through ongoing discussions with the university's fees & funding team, I was able to push through a number of changes that students wanted to see: 

  • In cases where a student is only in receipt of partial scholarship funding from the COVID-19 Scholarship Extensions Fund?(CSEF), and where this income in conjunction with other sources results in a shortfall in their finances, students can also apply to the CHF. (Normally, students who are eligible to apply for the?CSEF are not eligible for the CHF.) 

  • The application has a question that allows students to indicate if continuation fees are their main reason for applying to the fund. 

  • The guidance specifically mentions that "students living in University Graduate Accommodation whose finances have been affected by the pandemic and who have also become liable for Council Tax since Oxford City Council’s removal of an exemption earlier in 2020 should include these unexpected costs in their application to the CHF. ?These will be taken into account when assessing a student’s overall finances to identify whether they have insufficient funds to meet necessary expenditure, which is the basis for any award." 

 

As always, feel free to email me at vpgraduates@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk if you have any questions or concerns about this or any other grad-related topic.  

Lauren xx

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