Help with living costs - Access to Learning Fund

The Access to Learning Fund (ALF) is provided by the government to give discretionary financial assistance to UK students to help them participate in higher education.

You may be eligible to make an application if you:

  • need help with unexpected financial difficulties or have a low income
  • are considering leaving higher education because of financial problems
  • are experiencing a delay in payment of your funding for living costs e.g. your student loan

Before making an application to the ALF students must have accessed all other sources of funding available to them. This means undergraduate students must be in receipt of the maximum statutory student finance (living cost loan and grant) to which they are entitled. The ALF cannot act as a main source of funding for postgraduate students so postgraduates must be able to demonstrate that they were adequately funded when they commenced their studies. The ALF is not a bursary or a scholarship and it cannot provide large sums for postgraduates who have made little or no financial provision for their studies.

Government guidelines state that ALF cannot be used to pay tuition fees.

As the ALF is discretionary there is no guarantee that an applicant will receive funding; there is no entitlement or automatic right to funding from ALF and awards are based on the individual situation of each applicant.

Funds will normally be paid as a non-repayable award. Occasionally, loans may be issued instead, particularly if the applicant has a temporary cash flow problem.

For further information about the Fund please listen to our Recap recording (31 minutes in duration) which provides detailed information about the ALF and also talks you through the application form. Alternatively you may wish to contact us.

If you are struggling with utility costs you might be interested to find out more about charity and trust funding which may be able to help.