Attending university is a time full of new experiences and busy schedules, especially for students with many interests outside their courses. Of course, it can be hard to fit everything in when you have lectures, clubs or societies, socialising, and nightlife to contend with simultaneously! All of these can mean that students’ attendance at university lectures and classes can drop, which is bad news for your grades. However, many students also want to know if lower attendance affects student finance.
It is possible for attendance to affect student finance. Low attendance may mean you are suspended from university. If you are suspended then you are no longer a student, meaning you need to stop receiving finance and pay back any you are no longer entitled to. If you have a long-term health condition or disability you may be exempt from this.
While this should have given you a short answer about attendance and student finance, for full details please read on.
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Will attendance affect your university loans?
Student finance is intended, as the name suggests, for students. This means that to be eligible for support and loans, you need to be enrolled in and attending university. While the exact amount differs for each, most universities have attendance policies which will affect whether you can get student finance.
The way this usually works is that a university has a minimum attendance policy for you to continue being a student. If you are attending less than this amount then you may be suspended or removed as a student, which will mean you are no longer eligible for student finance or university loans. These circumstances change if, for example, you are disabled or have a long-term health condition which means you may miss more class time, but this is explored more below.
If you lose your place at university due to having low attendance, or you stop/suspend your studies for any reason you are required to stop your student finance and repay that which you are not entitled to. This can include money that was for the future, such as receiving 2 terms worth and only needing 1 term before dropping out. Details on this can be found on the government website here.
What is the minimum attendance for student finance?
As mentioned above, minimum attendance for student finance varies between different universities. The best way to find this out is to contact your university or look at the policies on your university website. However, here we will list some examples to help you understand the general rules and limits on attendance at university.
At the University of Dundee, for example, attendance is set to 80% minimum, below which intervention for the student takes place to help them attend more classes. If this intervention does not work the student may be suspended from classes. This procedure is similar across most universities.
Note also that if you are an international student studying in the UK on a VISA, you have a minimum of 50% attendance to meet the conditions of your leave to remain in the UK. Below this, the home office will be informed and it can have serious consequences. More information can be found from Exeter University here.
How does disability or long-term health conditions affect student finance?
It is also important to note that students who are disabled or have long-term health conditions may be exempt from these rules as part of their disability adjustments. For example, needing to attend medical appointments may not count towards attendance, and hospital stays also should not if the university is aware of them. If you are concerned about this, contact your university’s disability access office to discuss arrangements and how attendance impacts you.
Also, if you are suspended because of a serious health condition, you may be able to continue getting student finance for 60 days after, as long as your university informs your loan company about the situation. For more information, check out this article from gov.uk.
Details on when and how you should apply for student finance in the UK can be found in this Think Student article.
Does attendance affect financial aid?
As discussed above, attendance can affect whether you are eligible for student finance in a lot of different circumstances. However, one of the less discussed finance issues is scholarships and awards at university.
These are usually awarded to students who show exceptional potential and/or who have faced extenuating circumstances throughout their education. They often include an amount of money on top of your loans and tuition fees that is not a loan, hence the title award. However, scholarships and awards usually have attached conditions such as attendance and attainment.
For example, you may have to have at least 80% attendance at lectures and scheduled sessions in order to keep your scholarship or award. You may also need to gain a certain grade and working average in tests and assignments if your award is merit-based. If you fail to meet these conditions, you may no longer be eligible for financial aid.
For more information about financial aid and student finance in the UK, and when you have to apply for them, please check out this Think Student article.
What factors affect student finance?
Other factors can also affect student finance. For example, many students will be required to disclose their household and personal income before applying for student finance, as well as their nationality and other key factors.
However, once reaching university, there are other key conditions for maintaining student finance. One of the most common is attendance, as included above, but anything else that could prevent you from still being a student at university is also included. For example, bad behaviour or criminal charges may lead to you being dismissed from university, which would mean you lose student finance.
Also included is the intensity of your course, for example, if your course is part-time then it must be at least “25% course intensity” to qualify for student finance. You may also not get finance for your full university time if you are studying part-time. For more information on how many years you can get student finance, please check out this Think Student article.