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Not eligible for funding because I have CertHE... Should I appeal? watch

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    I'm a mature student. Started a part time BA degree at a red brick uni in 2003. I completely self-funded my studies as at that time fees were omly about £1k a year - nothing like it is today! Around mid year in 2005, had to quit my course (but completed it up to June 2005 so I cashed in my credits for a CertHE). Well reason for quitting was my husband got retrenched by workplace, which closed down, then he found a job at another city nearly 200 miles away. With a toddler to raise, we felt it was best we move to the new city for the new job opportunity as it would be better than going on JSA with no guarantee of good job prospects staying in our old place.

    Anyway so, I felt I was ready to start a degree again this year or the next, now that my child is a teenager and I have a bit more time to myself. I applied for student finance england to fund a new BA by distance learning, but received a rejection letter from SFE stating I was not eligible for funding - they did not even mention I could have funding for years 2 and 3 of the degree. They sent me a student loans contract in the post a few days after the rejection letter, with a big fat £0 on it, with a letter I could sign to confirm I accept the contract agreement! This is bizarre! What is the point of asking me to sign a contract that stated I was eligible for £0 for 2015/2016?!

    Anyway I feel really upset by this. From reading other threads, I get the impression I would be eligible for year 2 and year 3 of my new BA even if they were to deny me funding for the qualification I possess for completing year 1 of a BA in 2005. But there was absolutely no mention of it in the rejection letter or the student loan contract I was sent.

    Could someone clarify for me if I should sign and return the student loan contract that states I am eligible for £0 for the year 2014/2016? If I do that will I get funding for the subsequent years of study? I could get a loan from my bank to self-fund myself for the first year of my new BA if worse came to worse, but I absolutely cannot afford to self fund an entire BA degree now with the new hiked up fees.

    Or should I appeal the decision? My husband is trying to see if he could get his ex-boss at the workplace that retrenched him in 2005 to write a letter stating he was retrenched, so that I can send to SFE for evidence. Not sure what else I can do now at this point....
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    Have a look here: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/who-qualifies

    In particular:

    You’ll usually get student finance only if you’re doing your first higher education qualification - even if your previous course was self-funded.

    However, you may still get limited funding if, for example:

    you change course
    you leave your course but decide to start again
    you’re ‘topping up’ a higher education qualification, eg you’ve finished an HNC, HND or Foundation Degree and now want to do an Honours degree
    you hold an Honours degree or higher level of qualification and start a part-time Honours degree in engineering, technology or computer science (or a joint Honours in 2 of these subjects)
    You already have a higher education qualification and you're proposing starting a new degree rather than topping up your existing qualification, so I would guess this is the reason it's been denied.
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    (Original post by Potally_Tissed)
    Have a look here: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/who-qualifies

    In particular:



    You already have a higher education qualification and you're proposing starting a new degree rather than topping up your existing qualification, so I would guess this is the reason it's been denied.
    There is no way to study the exact same course that I left in the past via distance learning (I studied Spanish and Philosophy joint honours which is a 4 year degree including 1 year spent abroad in a Spanish-speaking country), unless I do something like an Open Degree with the OU, gain accredition of my previous studies, and start at OU from the 2nd year onwards (the DipHE level).

    This is an option I will go for if there is absolutely no other way I could get funding for a named degree, but will this work? Should I do that? Shall I start a new SFE application for this option?

    It would be my last choice since I prefer having a named degree. But I would do it anyway if that will work. I have always wanted to complete a degree.
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    (Original post by Rachev)
    There is no way to study the exact same course that I left in the past via distance learning (I studied Spanish and Philosophy joint honours which is a 4 year degree including 1 year spent abroad in a Spanish-speaking country), unless I do something like an Open Degree with the OU, gain accredition of my previous studies, and start at OU from the 2nd year onwards (the DipHE level).

    This is an option I will go for if there is absolutely no other way I could get funding for a named degree, but tell me - will this work? Should I do that? Shall I start a new SFE application for this option?

    It would be my last choice since I prefer having a named degree. But I would do it anyway if that will work. I have always wanted to complete a degree.
    I think that's a question for the OU and student finance. From my very limited knowledge of it (at one point during uni I considered transferring to the OU but didn't go ahead with it) I would guess it would work though.
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    (Original post by Potally_Tissed)
    I think that's a question for the OU and student finance. From my very limited knowledge of it (at one point during uni I considered transferring to the OU but didn't go ahead with it) I would guess it would work though.
    Thanks for your contribution anyway. I posted here because I saw that there are SFE reps answering questions on this forum. I hope I do get a reply from SFE reps here so I know where I stand.

    I already obtained an official academic transcript from my old uni showing all of the modules, grades and the 60 ECTS credits I have received to cash in my CertHE (I also have the official CertHE certificate from my old uni as well), and I believe that would be acceptable for OU's Credit Transfer system, especially for an Open Degree where one can choose any subject modules one wishes as long as one is competent to do them at those levels.
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    If it were me, I would appeal. Write to your MP? I did a CertHE and I was told that I could still get funding for a full degree, I would just lose my 'gift year'. I did my CertHE in one year though, which I think made all the difference.

    (Original post by Rachev)
    This is an option I will go for if there is absolutely no other way I could get funding for a named degree, but will this work? Should I do that? Shall I start a new SFE application for this option?

    It would be my last choice since I prefer having a named degree. But I would do it anyway if that will work. I have always wanted to complete a degree.
    You can study Spanish and Philosophy at the OU on a named degree. See the Humanities degree. Your diploma would say: BA (Hons) Humanities (Spanish and Philosophy).

    Would you do a Spanish degree if you could go to a 'brick' university? Pretty much all language degrees at 'brick' universities involve a mandatory year abroad, which presumably isn't an option if you work and have a family. WIth that in mind, the OU may be your only option.
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    I do have qualms about studying a foreign language with the OU as I think the year abroad is very useful for me and I could manage with my child - either I take her with me and she goes to school there while I study, or my husband is happy to care for her here while I go abroad for a year.. Also I think contact time is really important doing a foreign language and I know I won't get as much doing it through the OU, so for this new degree I am taking, it is not going to be a language degree. Rather I was going to do Psychology. But anyway, still worth thinking about doing a Humanities degree I guess, but without the student loan funding, I cannot do it.
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    (Original post by Rachev)
    I do have qualms about studying a foreign language with the OU as I think the year abroad is very useful for me and I could manage with my child - either I take her with me and she goes to school there while I study, or my husband is happy to care for her here while I go abroad for a year.. Also I think contact time is really important doing a foreign language and I know I won't get as much doing it through the OU, so for this new degree I am taking, it is not going to be a language degree. Rather I was going to do Psychology. But anyway, still worth thinking about doing a Humanities degree I guess, but without the student loan funding, I cannot do it.
    I agree, the OU is not great for languages but if Psychology is what you want to do, the OU is a much more viable option.

    As I understand it, this is the equation used to determine student loan entitlement: length of degree (minus) past years of previous study (plus) 1 gift year. If your Cert.HE took two years then you should still have some loan entitlement left! I'm not really an expert on this but SuperCat007 seems to know a lot about it, maybe she can help?
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    (Original post by Rachev)
    snip
    Copying message from SuperCat

    (Original post by SuperCat007)
    It won't let me post in the SFE thread you mentioned me in. The calculation is length of course - length of time spent in HE +1.So that person studied from 2001-2005 =4 years so 3-4+1=0 years entitlement left.

    By signing the agreement your agreeing to the terms and conditions of SFE, not the actual loan amount agreed upon, so if they appeal and it's changed signing the agreement won't affect this. They can't start a new application, you can only have one application at a time.

    Due to the fact that they've started part time they'd still have ~12 year's part time funding available to them with the OU for example.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    Copying message from SuperCat
    I started my studies in 2003 not 2001. Does that make a difference to her calculations though?
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    Copying message from SuperCat
    12 years part time funding with OU... How does that work? Is it through student finance england? Or do I have to apply for funding from OU?

    Should I sign the contract with the £0 on it then? What happens if I don't sign? Can I still not start a new claim?
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    Sorry for all the questions Snufkin!
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    (Original post by Rachev)
    12 years part time funding with OU... How does that work? Is it through student finance england? Or do I have to apply for funding from OU?

    Should I sign the contract with the £0 on it then? What happens if I don't sign? Can I still not start a new claim?
    As I understand it, you still get 12 years of part-time student funding from Student Finance England, so you could do an OU degree no problem. If you want to do that, I think you will need to re-apply for a loan from student finance. But obviously you should check with them to be sure.

    No, don't sign it - phone them up and tell them they've made a mistake.

    If you started in 2003 then you have 2 years of funding left (assuming you want to do a 3 year full-time degree).
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    As I understand it, you still get 12 years of part-time student funding from Student Finance England, so you could do an OU degree no problem. If you want to do that, I think you will need to re-apply for a loan from student finance. But obviously you should check with them to be sure.

    No, don't sign it - phone them up and tell them they've made a mistake.

    If you started in 2003 then you have 2 years of funding left (assuming you want to do a 3 year full-time degree).
    Thanks. I was thinking of writing to them really. What mistake did they make that I should tell them about in the letter? Is it the fact I should have 2 years full time funding left?

    By the way when I applied for funding for the degree it wasn't for OU, it was for UWE's distance learning Psych degree. So should I start a new application eventually, for OU instead? And please can you explain how you arrived at the "12 years' part time OU funding" figure? I cannot find it anywhere and have not heard of this. Is 12 years p/t OU funding enough to fund a full Psych degree from OU?
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    If you've only done a CertHE and you were at uni between 2003 and 2005 then yes it is a fact you should have 2 years of funding left (again, assuming you want to do a full-time 3 year degree). I don't know how they reached the £0 figure, but it is obviously wrong.

    I think you should speak to the SFE advisors about this because I'm not in the best position to advise you. All I can say is that from the information you have provided, it sounds like they have made a mistake. If you want to go to UWE then I would appeal. If you want to do an OU degree then (I think) you need to re-apply.I don't really understand how SuperCat007 came up with the 12 years figure, she knows more about it than I do.

    Mark Lee - SFE Official Adviser should be online at some point next week, perhaps he can help?
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    She says:

    (Original post by SuperCat007)
    Hi again, I still can't reply. It just says I don't have access to that part of the site...

    To answer her questions: She needs to sign the declaration, otherwise they'll just keep sending more and will eventually say they can't do anymore until she signs. She's accepting the T's and C's, not the amount of funding offered. You can only have one application going at once.

    You get 16 years part time funding to allow people to study at 25% rate. So 16-2 = 14 (sorry 14, not 12). Part time funding is separate to full time funding, hence why the allocation is different. Obviously you get no maintenance payments for part time. The amount of years you need depend on the rate you study. Psychology takes 4 years minimum with the OU, and you have up to 16 years to complete it with them.

    You'll need to cancel the full time application to start your part time one, like I've said 3 times you can only have 1 application on the go at once.

    Don't write a letter, email in using the formal appeals email address. That's the official process to appeal a decision.
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    This is getting more confusing. SFE's letter to me states I can only contact them via their PO Box address or by phone. They never provided any email addresses and they didn't mention anything about appealing either. Also my student loan application was for a part time distance learning Psych course at UWE, not full time.

    I prefer to write (email or post, but since they didn't provide an email address but only a PO Box address, I can only post snail mail).. I prefer to write because that it is all in black and white and I can keep a letter trail. No miscommunication there.

    So do you not think it's advisable to post?

    Also how does one cancel an application? There is no mention of cancellation procedures on any of the letters SFE sent me.

    Sorry snufkin I am not purposefully burdening you with answering my questions. It is meant for all and anyone who knows something can reply And hopefully someone from SFE can reply to me too.
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    (Original post by Rachev)
    This is getting more confusing. SFE's letter to me states I can only contact them via their PO Box address or by phone. They never provided any email addresses and they didn't mention anything about appealing either. Also my student loan application was for a part time distance learning Psych course at UWE, not full time.

    I prefer to write (email or post, but since they didn't provide an email address but only a PO Box address, I can only post snail mail).. I prefer to write because that it is all in black and white and I can keep a letter trail. No miscommunication there.

    So do you not think it's advisable to post?

    Also how does one cancel an application? There is no mention of cancellation procedures on any of the letters SFE sent me.

    Sorry snufkin I am not purposefully burdening you with answering my questions. It is meant for all and anyone who knows something can reply And hopefully someone from SFE can reply to me too.
    I honestly don't know I'm afraid. Perhaps this document will explain things: http://www.slc.co.uk/media/5030/sfe_..._leaflet_d.pdf

    I think you just phone them up and ask for your application to be cancelled.
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    She also says:

    (Original post by SuperCat007)
    Google formal appeals, the email address comes up.

    I'm guessing that UWE course is possibly considered part time anyway as it's distance learning (like the OU), so maybe you've applied for funding under the wrong branch of SFE and that's why you've been rejected? You need to check with UWE and SFE whether the course is considered part, or full time.

    They have to cancel the application, you can cancel it online, but apparently that can confuse the system so it's best if they do it.

    But don't cancel just to restart the same application again. It's better to appeal the decision and await the outcome and then reapply for part time funding if you don't get the outcome you want.

    I wouldn't bother phoning for information, the advisers mostly don't have a clue. If you appeal, it gets sent through to the team who actually understand how funding works so you'll be more likely to get a straight answer from them when they apply.
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    Okay I checked I definitely applied to SFE with a part time course application form and the course is definitely considered part time *and* distance learning by the Uni. Shall I wait for an SFE advisor to come by here before I send a complaint email? I have already typed it out..
 
 
 
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