PERSONAL PAYMENTS SCHEME GUIDANCE NOTES FOR STUDENTS

I am struggling to pay my fees. What should I do?

If you were granted Full Registration at the beginning of the year and agreed to pay your fees according to one of the University’s standard payment plans, but you are now struggling to meet the payments you are likely to need some guidance on the options available to you. The University may be able to offer you a personal payment plan, for the remainder of your fees depending on your individual circumstances. There are a number of factors to consider:

- How much do you owe?
- What type of degree are you studying? (UG or PGT? Full-time or Part-time? Final year?)
- How far through the academic year are you?

What is the Personal Payments Scheme?

The University expects students to pay their fees according to the standard instalment plans. However, there may be times when a student struggles to fit in with these standard plans and may want to request a personal payment plan. The Personal Payments Scheme allows you to submit a request for a personal payment plan. Students who are part of the Personal Payments Scheme are granted Provisional rather than Full Registration (further details below).

Who is the Personal Payments Scheme for?

The scheme is available to students who, for genuine reasons, might struggle to pay via a standard payment plan but who can demonstrate that, with some flexibility, they are able to pay. The scheme is not designed to help students who do not have enough money to pay their fees and who want more time to secure further funds. It is important that your funding is in place, that it is secure and that you have prioritised the payment of your fees, before you come to the University.

The scheme is also available to students who, at the end of the previous year of study, still owe the University money (academic-related fees). The University’s regulations state that you are not allowed to re-register, without special permission, if you owe the University any academic-related fees (eg tuition fees). If you are in this position then you can apply to request special permission. In considering any such request, the Student Fees Team will consult the relevant departments (e.g. Finance) to review your payment history. Special permission to register, in these circumstances, is not guaranteed and almost never given more than once. Please note, if your debt from a previous academic year is £5000 or more you may be asked to take a leave of absence.

If my request is approved, what will happen?

If a personal payment plan is agreed, details of the plan will be emailed to you. You will be granted provisional registration rather than full registration. Your academic department will be informed that you are on this status and will receive regular updates on the progress of your payments. Please be aware that any personal payment plan which is agreed is unique to you – it represents a confidential agreement between you and the University and you should not discuss the details with other students. Provided you stick to your payment plan then Provisional Registration is no different to Full Registration (and is a valid status for international students holding Visas). However, if you miss a payment you are at risk of being excluded from the University – this would mean that you cannot attend classes, use the facilities or complete your degree and (for international students) you would be in breach of your Visa conditions if you remain in the UK.

How can I apply to the scheme?

If you have genuine reasons to request a personal payment plan, please complete the application form  http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/registration/tuitionfees/personalpaymentsscheme/application-form . When completing the form you will be asked to explain why you cannot pay according to a standard payment plan. You will also be asked to indicate how and when you will be able to pay your fees. You may be asked to complete the University's online Moneyplanner and/or provide evidence (bank statements, financial documentation etc.) in support of your request. You will also be asked to indicate that you have read this guidance and understand the implications of paying via the scheme.

What factors will be used when considering my application? And what sort of payment plan might be agreed?

Members of the Student Fees Team will:
• assess how much money you have available for your tuition fees and your living expenses. If, at this stage, there are any concerns about your ability to pay you may be asked to defer or suspend your studies or withdraw. For further details please see www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/change-of-status/leave  for Taught programmes or www.sheffield.ac.uk/rs/code/loa for Research programmes.
• review the timings of your cash flow to see if a suitable payment plan can be agreed which is satisfactory to both you and the University.

Payment plans:
• As with any other service, the University expects you to pay upfront or in advance of receiving tuition, supervision, use of facilities etc. Please do not ask to be allowed to pay late or at the end of your year of study – the University expects you to take the funding of your study seriously and pay accordingly without accruing irresponsible levels of debt.

• The University may be able to agree to a termly payment plan (three payments) if this is how your funding is released to you.

• The University may be able to agree to a monthly payment plan for up to six months to allow you to spread the cost of your tuition.

• If the particular payment plan which you have requested is not approved, the University may suggest an alternative plan.

• If you still cannot agree to the alternative plan you must apply for a Leave of Absence within 7 days, If you do not take action the University will start withdrawal procedures.

Please note that your instalment amounts will be larger at the start of the personal payment plan ie you cannot defer a high proportion of your fee until towards the end of any academic year.

All requests will be assessed on an individual basis.

When you are submitting your request for a personal payment plan you should consider the impact of exchange rate fluctuations and bank transfer charges. The University will not reimburse any charges made by your bank. And neither will we make any changes to your fee rate, if the timing of your payments means that you end up paying more, because of fluctuation in exchange rates.

What will happen if I miss a payment?

• The University expects you to pay your fees on time according to the plan which has been agreed. You will be sent  an email alert around 10 days before each of your expected payments so that you can make the necessary arrangements to pay (i.e. by ensuring that you have funds in your bank account, by arranging for a bank transfer etc.)
• If your financial circumstances have changed unexpectedly and you know that, because of this, you cannot make payment as agreed, please reapply to summarise what has happened. The Student Fees Team will review your case and may invite you to attend an appointment to discuss your situation in more detail, and to talk to you about your options.
• If you miss a payment without prior warning or permission, you will receive an email (to your University account and any other email addresses held) informing you that your payment is overdue and providing an absolute deadline. If you have still not paid by the absolute deadline, your academic department will  be informed, your University computer account will be disabled and your library and buildings access will be stopped. You will be excluded from the University (this would mean that you are not allowed to attend classes/supervisory sessions, to use the facilities or complete your degree. If you are an international student who has been excluded for non payment the UKVI will be informed - you would be required to return to your home country, otherwise you would be in breach of your Visa conditions if you remain in the UK).
• If your circumstances have changed since your personal payment plan was approved, and you are now struggling to make the payments, you are advised to apply to take a leave of absence from your studies. If you apply to take a leave of absence then you can be permitted to return to studies at a later date. If you do not apply to take a leave of absence, and you default on payment, you may be excluded from the University and may not be allowed to return. Please see:
www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/change-of-status/leave for Taught programmes or www.sheffield.ac.uk/rs/code/loa for Research programmes.

Useful Links:

If you need to apply (or are required to apply) for a leave of absence, see www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/change-of-status/leave