If you’re strapped for cash or you’re hit with a major expense that you just can’t afford, you may be able to access a student loan through your institution.
These loans are generally interest free and more flexible than those offered by banks and financial institutions, although they are only available to cover certain expenses. While you will usually be accepted for a loan to cover accommodation costs, an unexpected utility bill or a new laptop, student loans cannot be used for non-essential expenses such as recreational travel, or to pay for your tuition or student amenities fees. What is and isn’t covered by a student loan will vary, so be sure to check with your institution’s financial assistance service.
You will generally be required to provide evidence of your need for assistance (usually a written statement along with details of your income, although an interview may be required). Some institutions may also ask that you provide a guarantor, depending on the amount borrowed.
You should also ask about emergency grants, which are offered to students who are facing significant financial hardship. Rather than a loan that needs to be paid back, these grants do not require repayment. Banks and financial institutions also offer student loans, some of which may be more flexible than standard loans. If you are considering taking out a loan, it’s best to have a chat to your institution’s financial assistance service as well as advisers at your bank to ensure that it is a feasible option for you.