STUDENTS facing financial hardship due to the cost of living crisis and rising energy costs can now apply for more support.
This week more than £5m has been distributed to help higher education students in financial hardship with basics like heating and other household costs.
This is part of a £37m hardship funding provided by the Scottish Government since June 2021.
The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) will meet colleges’ Further Education (FE) student support funding requirements and have also provided a further £6 million for financial support for FE students.
Higher and further education minister Jamie Hepburn has written to college and university principles asking them to encourage the students most in need to apply and to prioritise allocation of funding.
To further support students Mr Hepburn has announced a £350 uplift for 2022-23 in higher education, meaning the most disadvantaged students can access £8,100 per year through bursary and loan.
This comes alongside the introduction of a new 12-month payment option in 2022-23 for higher education students receiving the Care Experienced bursary, so support is also available over the summer.
An instalment of £5.2m has been issued to the sector from the 2021-22 higher education discretionary funds.
Mr Hepburn said: “Many students are facing higher energy bills and increased financial hardship as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
“I have written to university and college principals asking them to ensure that discretionary funds remain accessible for students most in need and that in distributing funds, they should take account of the impact rising energy prices will be having on students, particularly those in private rented accommodation.
“I have also asked them to add students facing rising energy bills to the priority groups so they can access the funds.
“Students can also apply for support through the Fuel Insecurity Fund, which is distributed through third sector organisations.”
At the most recent analysis of funds earlier this year, around £15m of funds remain from the first instalment of the HE Discretionary Fund and the Coronavirus Fund.
The SFC notified colleges last week as part of the in-year redistribution of FE student support funds that colleges demands for the remainder of the academic year will be met in full.
In addition, SFC are repurposing student support funds that were unspent in 2020-21 to give further allocation of £6.375m to colleges in AY 2021-22.
This ensures that discretionary fund support also remains available for FE students experiencing hardship.