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Financial support and budgeting at university

If you are studying or wish to study in full-time or part-time education or training courses, you might be eligible for help to cover extra costs associated with studying with a disability. We’ve put together some top tips on the support available and other ways to help with budgeting at university.


Know your rights

doodle of a graduation mortarboard capPeople living with cystic fibrosis meet the criteria for ‘disability’ under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland). Both of these Acts also place a duty on education and training providers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people so they are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to other non-disabled students.

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) – These allowances cover extra disability-related costs or expenses you have while studying which are over and above those provided as reasonable adjustments by the college or university. They are available in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Students can apply for the allowance on top of their other student finance and do not need to repay DSAs. If you would like support applying for a DSA, please contact our Helpline on helpline@cysticfibrosis.org.uk or 0300 373 1000.

Check your benefit entitlement – Some disabled students are eligible for other financial help on top of DSA and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It's worth looking into, so you don’t miss out.

NHS Low Income Scheme – If you’re on a low income, you can get help with health costs. Complete an HC1 form (available online). Students in Northern Ireland need to apply on this website. How much help you get depends on your weekly income and necessary outgoings, plus any savings or investments you have at the time you apply. As a student, you need to include evidence of all grants, bursaries and awards you receive. Normally this will consist of an award notice showing how much money you get.

Council Tax – Households in Scotland, England and Wales where everyone is a full-time student do not have to pay Council Tax. Get a letter from your university as proof of attendance and send it to your council.

Budgeting tips

doodle of a mobile phone

Use a budgeting tool such as a spreadsheet or App to manage your money.

Digital banking – Download your bank’s app to keep track of what's going in and out of your account.

Avoid cash machines that charge – Some charge you for withdrawals (so check before using). There is probably a free one nearby so look around and save money. Link's ATM-finder tool shows you where the nearest cash machine is, and if there is a charge. It is available online and as a free app and covers all the of the UK.

Energy saving – Whether you are responsible for your energy bills or not, by taking steps to reduce your energy intake, you'll contribute to a healthier and happier world, and save money at the same time.

Be scam aware – Remain vigilant and guard against criminals targeting you with fraudulent emails, phone calls, texts messages or social media posts.

Student discounts

doodle of paper money and coinsTOTUM is a UK student discount card and app, giving you access to a range of offers. There is a free digital version, or a paid for card that is also a PASS-accredited proof of age ID.

UniDays is a student discount service that the majority of high street shops are part of. It is available to students currently enrolled on a university course, sixth form or college in the UK.

There are heaps of discounts UK students can take advance of, from Amazon Student, Spotify Student, Apple education and a Tastecard. Check out the latest student discounts and deals that you can get on anything from train fares to nights out.

A CEA Card entitles someone in receipt of PIP or DLA to a free ticket for someone to accompany them to participating UK cinemas.

Practical things to consider

doodle of a laptopTV Licence – anyone in the UK that uses BBC iPlayer – even just for watching catch-up TV – needs a TV licence, as well as anyone watching or recording live TV.

You don't technically need a TV licence if:

  • Your parents have a TV licence; and
  • You live with them outside term time; and
  • When you're at university you only watch on a device that isn't plugged into an aerial or a mains socket at the time. (If your device is plugged into the mains when watching, you need a TV licence.)

If the above does not apply, if you’re living in halls of residence you may be covered for communal areas, but not your room – do check. If you live in a shared house and have a joint tenancy agreement, you'll only need one licence for the household. But, if you have separate agreements, you'll need one for your room.

Remember, watching live TV or using iPlayer without being covered by a licence is against the law. Fee dodgers face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. 

Home insurance – Check your parents' cover if you live with them outside term time. Your parents’ home insurance may automatically cover you under the 'temporarily removed from the home' section while you're a student. The cover only applies while in your accommodation and if your parents' home is your main permanent address. If you need cover for any mobiles or laptops, or items you normally wear or carry away from your home, your parents could also add the 'all-risks' or 'unspecified personal possessions' section to their policy, which specifically covers your stuff while it's out of their home. Many policies allow this, so it's worth checking. However, if you carry a lot of valuable gadgets, eg, a laptop, tablet and smartwatch, then a specialist gadget insurance policy could be worth considering.

Register to vote – If you want to rent, get a mobile contract or a credit card, it really helps if you're on the electoral roll, which is a list of everyone who's registered to vote. It can also help reduce insurance premiums too. Plus, you can be a part of big decision-making: voting for new governments.

Other places to get support

doodle of two people talkingThe Disabled Students Helpline provides advice and support for disabled people aged 18 and over, who are studying or wish to study in England at any level in full-time or part-time education or training courses.

Can't sleep? – Nightline offers a confidential, anonymous listening and info service specifically for students. It runs overnight from about 8pm to 8am and covers over 100 universities and colleges across the UK. See its website for how to get in touch with your nearest service.

Student Minds – There are lots of different types of support that might be available to you while at university. Student Minds have put this information in one place, so that you can read more about the support and services available at your university.

Speak to your university – Your Student Union and/or Student Services may offer workshops on budgeting and money management, or individual support. They are there to offer support, guidance and information, to help you make the most of your time at university.

Cystic Fibrois Trust – You can speak to the Trust about maximising your income.

We also provide education grants, which are administered on behalf of the Trust by the Joseph Levy Education Fund. The Fund helps adults with CF over the age of 18 with the costs of higher education or other professional qualifications including vocational training. They also accept applications from people with CF aged 16 or 17 who are not moving into formal further education and who wish instead to undertake vocational training. For further information please contact Maria Zava via MZava@jlf.org.uk or on 020 7616 1207. 

You can also check out our Q&A with two former students who share their own tips on budgeting and support at university.

Further resources

Booklets on leaving school and cystic fibrosis

Whether you choose to move on to training, sixth-form, college or university, or even take a gap year, our resources are here to help you make the decisions that are right for you! As well as an animation all about leaving school, we have two booklets on life after secondary school for young people with cystic fibrosis and their parents, and a useful factsheet for training providers, colleges and universities.

Download the booklets

Leaving home and eating well

This is a leaflet about eating well if you have left home and have cystic fibrosis. It covers: boosting your calories, breakfasts, staying charged up throughout the day, stocking up, budgeting and enzyme storage.

Download the leaflet (220KB)

Leaving school resources

Find out about how CF might affect your options after secondary school, download our booklets, order them to your door, or watch our video on what you can do after leaving school or college.

Other financial support

We support people with cystic fibrosis and their families every step of the way, from welfare grants, support applying for benefits and information and advice for times in financial need. 

Helpline

Our confidential Helpline offers a listening ear, as well as information and support on any aspect of cystic fibrosis, including financial support such as benefits and our welfare grants.