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Compelling Personal Reasons... advice sought.

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    Hi there, as it's my first post here I'll introduce myself by briefly outlining my situation. My name is John and I am a 25 year old mature student currently sitting the second year of some A2 qualifications. The a-levels I am taking are maths, physics, further maths, and chemistry. I have applied to a couple of universities local to me and I am hoping to study a masters in Mathematics.

    The reason I am sitting my a-levels at such a late stage in life is because this will not be the first time I have entered higher education. After school I went straight into sixth form college but subsequently flunked most of my subjects. I managed to get into a university or clearing but later dropped out. A brief explaination follows...

    My father is/was (not seen him now in about 6 years) a violent alcoholic and had been throughout most of my childhood. The problems at home this caused were endless, and were only resolved around 2003/2004 when my mother finally had an injunction placed on him to prevent him from coming around anymore. The problem is that these issues coincided with my study at both sixth form and university.

    The severity of the problems is well documented. I can provide at least one police report of a particularly severe event around 2003. This event lead to the restraint order and his ejection from our house (and lives). I can also provide reports from social services etc from around this and earlier times.

    I have chosen not to go into too much detail here on a public forum, as naturally it is a sensitive issue. Needless to say, the events certainly did effect my life in many ways. I was lethargic and spent most of my days in bed, or at least in my bedroom. I scarcely attended university for the two years I was there (1st year, and a 1st year repeat).

    Since dropping out, myself and my family have rebuilt our lives. Having worked for a while I finally felt ready to fulfill my academic ambitions. With bad A-Levels, I decided to go back to a local college and take four new a-levels with full attendance. I am currently estimated grade A's in all of the four subjects I am taking. Mathematics has become something of a passion for me, and I am very desperate to continue at university level.

    As I understand it i would be entitled automatically to 4 years (it's a masters course), plus one year, minus whatever years I have had worth of loan previously. Unfortunately because I didn't drop out in an official way, I did start the second year at university after the resit and have in fact received three years of student loan. Thus, I believe I am entitled to 2 years student loan and that I must find the 6 or so grand needed for the first two years.

    My situation is worlds different now, and I believe that the last two years studying for A-Level serve as an indication not just of my ability but of my focus, commitment, and determination. My question to someone more knowledgeable about student loans is how I can register Compelling Personal Reasons, when should I do so, and whether or not in their experience a story like mine would prove to be successful in having the SLC reconsider my position. As stated I believe I can provide plentiful evidence of a severe and detrimental living situation prior to my leaving university.

    Many thanks, if anybody needs more specific information please send me a private message and i would be happy to discuss it there.

    John
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    You would need to provide the documents in order for your case to be considered, and compelling personal reasons are awarded at the discretion of the awards body.

    For each year, you would have to apply for CPR. However, I think in your circumstances and speaking from the viewpoint of an assessor, I would only be able to offer one year on CPR. Now, if you had applied for it on your previous course, it would be different as it's not taken into account on the previous study calculation.

    That said, I'm of the view that if the evidence backed up your statements, you would get full support in the first year, a maintenance loan only in year 2, and full support in years 3 and 4.

    I'm also assuming the MA is integrated with the undergraduate program.
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    Thank you so much for the reply. I will certainly need to read into this more. I was unaware that the CPR claims were to a different body than the student loans company. Would I need to actually start the course before I could claim compelling personal reasons or could this be sorted out before commencing the course?

    You mentioned a maintenance loan in year two. This would be fine, but i'm curious... Could I apply for this without CPR? I was under the impression that the worst possible circumstances I could be in would be with the last two years full support, and no fees and no loan for years 1 and 2. I'm probably misunderstanding you, but it sounds that even without CPR I might be able to claim for a maintenance loan only for years 1 and 2? That alone, as a worst case scenario would make attending university a lot more realistic for me.

    I can and will get the evidence together, thought at this time I can't really comment on how thorough it is.

    Forgive my ignorance, but is there any documentation on all this somewhere that I could have access to? I can't see anything relating to it on the student loans website.

    Many thanks for your quick reply,

    John
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    Ok, all eligibility matters are dealt with by your local authority. However, for entrants in 2009, the system is being centralised by what will be known as Student Finance England. The financial side is from the SLC, and I apologise for the confusion.

    The tuition loan and maintenance loan are completely seperate. If you weren't given CPR, then you would only have to a maintenance loan for the first two years. The effect of being granted the repeat for CPR just means you can also get help with fees. Where you are going to be centralised, I imagine there may be the odd difficulty in processing this. I've got no details on how Student Finance England will work, but all cases should be treated individually based on what information has been provided.

    Off the top of my head, I don't know of any documents about this. I believe there is a section within The Student Support Regulations 2008, which is unlikely to change much for 2009. Pop that into Google and you should be able to find a bit more info on that. The reason it's not on the main website is because for years, the central call centre have always used the "Call your LEA" getout. They're still trying it now for students beginning next year, despite the fact it's nothing to do with us really.

    Hope that helps.
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    It helps a lot, and I certainly will seek out those regulations you mentioned. However there is one point I still just need a bit of clarity on. That is of my eligibility for a maintenance loan.

    If I can get a maintenance loan for the first two years but no help with tuition fee's, it may mean the difference between my attending or not. I believe I can cover the fee's or the living costs, one of the two.

    I know you have mentioned it twice now, but my worrying side still needs clarification. Say for some reason my CPR claim fell through, would I still be eligible for the maintenance loan for the first two years?

    If the answer is yes, then irrespective of whether or not my CPR claim is successful, I _should_ be able to still attend university as planned, and this will be very good news for me, lol.

    Once again thanks for the replies this evening, and sorry for my constant stream of questions! haha

    John
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    Yes, you will still be eligible to receive the maintenance loan as, to my knowledge, you do not hold an honours degree.
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    Thanks Taiko, so much. You have really laid my worry to rest. I will still apply for CPR as it has always been my belief that my circumstances affected my study, and help with the fee's would be ideal, however if I am deemed non-eligible from what you have told me tonight I should still be able to manage it somehow

    Thanks Taiko, now I can look forward to my ucas replies!

    Oh, I don't hold any kind of degree or formal qualification other than AS level/A2 level.

    John
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    Glad to be of assistance. Good luck on your course!

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