Manchester Metropolitan University Students' Union
 

STUDENTS WITH CHILDREN

Starting university with a child or having a child while at university is undoubtedly a different experience to university without caring responsibilities. We hope that this booklet can help you to identify possible problems and establish how to deal with them early on and so make your time at university as easy as possible.

 

 

View the booklet

 

 

 


FUNDING

 

Studying full time

If you started your course on or after September 2016, are a UK student studying a full-time undergraduate course and have not studied at university before, you will be entitled to standard student funding as follows:

If you started before September 2016, your basic funding is described on the next page.

Tuition fee loan

Paid directly to the university to cover your tuition fees. You will pay it back once you are earning over £21,000 per year

Up to £9,250 per year

 

Maintenance Loan

Paid to you in three instalments per year. It is intended to cover your living costs during the academic year. Some of the loan is based on how much money you and your partner (if you have one) have coming in. You will pay it back once you are earning over £21,000 per year through your wages. It is important to let student finance know if you have a child and whether you have a partner or are a lone parent as this will affect your loan amount and how it is treated for benefit purposes. Come and see the Advice Centre for more details.

Up to £10,195 if a lone parent or member of a student couple or you are disabled
Up to £8979 in most other circumstances Lower in final year or if living with your parents

Please note: if you have studied at HE level before, lived in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland or are studying on a Teaching or Social Work course, funding can be very different.

 

Supplementary grants

Parents' living allowance

This is a grant paid to you in three instalments to help you pay for your course (e.g. books, photocopying etc. The amount you get depends on how much money you and your partner (if you have one) have coming in and you do not have to pay it back.
Up to £1,669 a year

 

Adult Dependants' Grant

You can apply for this grant if you live with a partner or other adult who is financially dependent on you. The amount you will get will depend on their income. It will be paid to you in three instalments and you do not have to pay it back.
Up to £2,925 a year

 

Childcare Grant

The Childcare Grant is available if: • Your child is under 15 (or 17 if they have special educational needs) immediately before the beginning of the academic year.
+ You are not getting the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit (WTC) or the Childcare Element of Universal Credit (UC).
+ The childcare is registered by OfSTED. You do not have to pay it back and the amount you get will depend on any money that you and your partner (if you have one) have coming in.

You are able to claim up to 85% of the actual childcare costs to a maximum of £164.70/week for one child or £282.36/ week for two or more children (85% of £193.76 and £332.19 respectively)

 

If you started your course before 2016, you may be eligible for one of the following grants: Students starting their course after 2016 do not receive these grants.

 

Maintenance Grant (MG)

A means tested grant paid to students in 3 instalments during the year. You don’t usually have to pay this back. The amount you get depends on your and your partner’s income.

Up to £3,593 (counted as income for benefit purposes)

Up to £6,515 but; Up to £4,719 if receiving maximum amount of MG

 

Special Support Grant (SS)

A means tested grant for lone parents or students with a disability. It is paid in 3 instalments and replaces the MG above. It is not taken into account for benefit purposes and leads to a higher level of maintenance loan being paid.

Up to £3,482 (not counted as income for benefit purposes)

Up to £6,515 (even if receiving maximum amount of SSG)

 

How do I apply for these supplementary grants?

The Childcare Grant has its own form called the CCG1. This form asks for you to estimate your childcare costs for the year so you will need to work out how many days each week you will need childcare and then how many weeks per year. You should ask your provider how much this will be. Student Finance England will use this estimate to decide the amount they will pay you and you will be paid in three instalments over the year. Your first instalment will be paid after you enrol, the next one in January and the final payment is usually in April and covers your childcare needs over the summer period as well so you will need to budget carefully.

Student Finance England will need you to complete three more forms after the CCG1 to prove your childcare costs are what you estimated. Your childcare provider will need to complete some sections. These other forms are called CCG2 and the amount you get may be adjusted if the estimate doesn’t match your actual costs or they could be stopped altogether if you do not return the forms.

We can discuss childcare costs in more detail if you contact us or look at the gov.uk website.

 

MMU student support package

MMU offers a student support package to full-time first degree students whose income is up to £25,000 per year. The student support package offers discounts on tuition fees, MMU accommodation and other services accessed through the Metcard: http://www2. mmu.ac.uk/metcard/ For more information see: http:// www2.mmu.ac.uk/study/ undergraduate/moneymatters/2018/studentsupport-package/

 

MMU day to day fund

This is a hardship grant that you can apply for once you’ve enrolled at MMU. More information can be found at: http://www.mmu. ac.uk/studentfinance/alf.php

 


STUDYING FULL TIME

 

The funding for part-time study is limited. If you are studying at least 25% of the equivalent full-time course (a full-time course is 120 credits) per year you may be entitled to a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your fees. You can claim up to £6,935 per year, depending on the actual tuition charge for your course. You will have to repay this loan when you are earning over £21,000 per year and it is usually automatically deducted from your wages.

You will not be entitled to a Maintenance Loan, but if your household income is £25,000 or below, you may be eligible to apply for the MMU Part-time Student Support Package. This would take the form of a fee waiver. The amount of fee waiver you are eligible for will depend on how many credits you are enrolled on (and have been charged for) in each academic year. See https://www2.mmu.ac.uk/student-life/ finance/support/ for further details or come to the Advice Centre..

Depending on your income you may also be eligible for benefits and/or tax credits (including the Childcare element of Working Tax Credit)

 


BENEFITS

 

Most full-time students are not entitled to any benefits whilst they study but students with dependent children may be eligible. If you are eligible for benefits, some of the money you receive from Student Finance England will be included when your benefits are calculated so the amount of benefit that you receive will be reduced. If you have a partner, they may be able to apply for benefits for you both, but again some of your student income will be taken into account when his/her benefits are calculated.

 

Child benefit

Child Benefit is available to all parents of a child or a qualifying young person (child aged up to 19 in full-time education)*. It is a fixed amount per child:

+ First child £20.70 per week

+ Every other child £13.70 per week

+ If you or your partner earn over £50,000 per year, please contact us to discuss this further

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit that started to replace existing benefits from April 2013 with a simpler, single monthly payment if you’re out of work or on a low income.

Universal Credit will eventually replace:

+ Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

+ Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

+ Income Support

+ Working Tax Credit

+ Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit

Some students will already be on Universal Credit when they start the course if they live in certain areas of Greater Manchester and Cheshire but it may not affect others until they have finished their studies. You may already have had a letter about this benefit but if you want more information on it please review the www.gov.uk website or come to us to discuss your entitlements in detail.

If you would like to check if you are in a UC area, the link below gives you more information, but do come and see us if you are unclear. https://universalcreditinfo.net

If you already claim “legacy benefits” or cannot claim Universal credit because of where you live, the information on Legacy Benefits may apply

 

Child tax credit (legacy)

If you have dependent children, you can claim Child Tax Credit. Any student loans and grants you get towards the costs of tuition fees, childcare and other course-related or living costs are not taken into account when working out your entitlement. However, if you get the Adult Dependants’ Grant this will be taken into account in full.

For single parents Child Tax Credit is often the main source of funding for their children.

Child Tax Credit will be paid into your bank account throughout the year. You can choose to be paid either weekly or 4-weekly.

From 6 April 2017, there are some key changes to Child Tax Credit. These changes only affect children born on or after 6 April 2017. If all of your children are born before this date, your Child Tax Credit won’t change. You can read about the changes on the gov.uk website but if you want advice on how this will affect your tax credits, then please come and see Your Advice Centre for tailored advice for your circumstances.

If you receive the maximum amount of Child Tax Credit (and no Working Tax Credit) this will give you automatic entitlement to free school meals for school age children and free prescriptions, dental and optical treatment for the whole family.

How much will I get?

Single parent, not working, one child: Approximately £64per week

Single parent, not working, two children: Approximately £117 per week

Couple with children: Depends on income - go to see the Advice Centre

How can I claim?

If you have not already claimed Child Tax Credit, please ring the Helpline on 0345 300 3900 to request a claim pack.

 

Working tax credit (legacy)

If you have a dependent child and you are a single parent you can claim Working Tax Credit if you work more than 16 hours per week. If you have a partner and have a dependent child your joint working hours usually need to be 24 hours or more per week (if you both work, your joint weekly hours must be at least 24, with one of you working 16 hours, if only one of you works that person must be working at least 24 hours per week).

How much will I get?

This will depend on several factors, mainly the level of wages and number of children.

How can I claim?

If you have not already claimed Working Tax Credit, please ring the Helpline on 0345 300 3900 to request a claim pack.

 

Income support (legacy)

You may be eligible for Income Support whilst a Full Time Student if you are a single parent of a child aged under five. However usually you will not actually receive any Income Support during term time as your student loans and grants will be taken into account when your entitlement is calculated. During the summer vacations (July and August) income from Student Support is ignored entirely. However we advise that you visit us to review your entitlement to Income Support in case you are transferred to Universal Credit.

How much will I get?

Single parent, not working: Nothing in term time £73.10 per week during July and August

How can I claim?

To make a claim you can phone (or write to) the Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688/ Textphone 0800 023 4888 (Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm).

 

Jobseeker's allowance (legacy)

If you are a single parent with a child under 16 and you are not working you can apply for Jobseekers Allowance during the months of July and August.

If you have a partner and you have a child under 16 you can apply for JSA over the summer vacation if neither of you are working. You must meet all the basic rules for JSA to claim, such as actively seeking work, being available for work etc. – although the rules are more relaxed for single parents.

How much will I get

Single parent of older child, not working: nothign in term time. £73.10/week during July and August

Couple, not wokring: Nothing in term time. £114.85/week during July and August

How can I claim?

Claim online at https://www.gov.uk/ jobseekers-allowance/how-to-claim If you cannot claim online phone the Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688/Textphone 0800 023 4888 (Monday to Friday 8:00 – 18:00).

Your call will be put through to a Jobcentre Plus contact centre and you’ll speak to a First Contact Officer (FCO). Once your details have been taken over the telephone, the FCO will arrange an appointment at your local Jobcentre Plus office. After you’ve applied online you’ll receive a call to discuss your claim and to arrange an interview at the Jobcentre Plus office.

 

Housing benefit (legacy)

If you are a single parent, you will be able to apply for this during the whole year. It is important that if you are a single parent you let Student Finance know this, as some of your loan will be disregarded for benefit purposes. If you have a partner on a low income then your partner may be able to claim for you both.

How much will I get?

Single parent: During term time we often find that single parents have to pay a small amount towards their rent, but during July and August, when Student Support is ignored, full Housing Benefit is usually available.

Couple: How much you get will depend on your partner’s income as well as your own. Please come to Your Advice Centre if you would like us to do a calculation.

Housing Benefit is restricted in how much rent it can assist with, if you are living in private rented accommodation. This restriction is known as the Local Housing Allowance and depends on the number and sex of children and others living in your house. You can find out what your maximum would be by visiting https://www.gov.uk/housing-benefit/ what-youll-get

How can I claim?

Housing Benefit is processed and paid by your local council. Some councils allow you to apply online instead of on paper so always check on their website for their application process. Once you have it, it should be completed and the evidence should be collected. The form should then be returned to your council.

 

Useful info

Common Manchester area councils are:

+ Manchester City Council
http://www.manchester.gov.uk
T: 0161 234 5003
+ Trafford Council
http://www.trafford.gov.uk
T: 0161 912 2220
+ Oldham Council
http://www.oldham.gov.uk
T: 0161 770 6633
+ Rochdale Council
http://www.rochdale.gov.uk
T: 0300 303 8870
+ Stockport Council
http://www.stockport.gov.uk
T: 0161 217 6015
+ In Cheshire:
Cheshire East Council
http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/
T: 0300 123 5013
+ Cheshire West & Chester
http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/
T: 0300 123 7021

 


CHILDCARE

Working out what your childcare requirements will be

Get your course timetable as early as possible, so you can start working out what childcare you might need. The university expects students to reach a minimum attendance requirement, which should be outlined in your course handbook – you should ensure that those sessions and any necessary travel time are covered.

You may also want to think about childcare for self-study time as well as timetabled lectures, seminars etc. You may find you need this more around coursework deadlines or exams. Again, check with your tutors when those items are coming up and the requirements (word count, how much of the course it makes up) so that you can prioritise your childcare needs appropriately

 

Help with childcare costs

You may be able to get help with up to 85% of childcare costs if you use registered childcare services – please see the section on Student Support (Childcare Grant).

 

Over the summer

The Childcare Grant (through Student Support) can help with childcare during the vacation periods too. This may be particularly useful if you need to do re-sits or similar.

 


ACADEMIC ISSUES

Finding time/study skills

Trying to fit in full-time studies and looking after children can be a tough challenge, especially if you have been out of education for a while. There are various university staff who may be able to help you focus on the issues involved and help identify ways of coping. Besides your tutors and lecturers, library staff and your Faculty Student Support Officer http://www.mmu. ac.uk/sas/studentservices/student-supportofficers.php can offer help with academic skills. The University also runs regular time management and stress management courses which you may find helpful.

It is worth checking with your Hub for when and from where timetables are so that you can start planning any childcare requirements. They should also be able to tell you if the timetable will change termly, annually or at other intervals and give some idea of the amount of lectures and seminars you may be required to attend. Your hub contact details can be found at https://www.mmu.ac.uk/student-life/contactus/. Your course or unit handbook should list assignment hand in dates and word counts. Knowing these well in advance can also help you to plan your time more effectively.

 

Group work

Group work will often be unscheduled and involve several students organising to get together between themselves to work on projects. Some students who don’t have the same sort of time demands and caring responsibilities as those with children may not be aware of how difficult it can be for you to attend sessions together. Good organisation is needed. Talk to tutors early on about group allocations and when group work will be required. This will help you to think about childcare arrangements and maybe even find a group who do understand your restrictions.

 

Placements

Again, fitting placement demands around childcare responsibilities and all the other demands may benefit from some pre-planning – and from talking to tutors early on. Try and make sure the University understand your situation so they can find the most suitable placement possible – one that is close by, is easily accessible etc. - as far as possible. You should also make sure that you are clear on the procedures for if you or your child are ill – who you have to contact and when and what evidence you will need.

 

Illness

If you or your child are ill it is important that you let the University know. They take engagement with the course very seriously and if you miss lectures without explanation they may look at withdrawing you from the course. The university has procedures for supporting you through sickness (Fitness to Study Policy) and for if they think you are at risk of failure (Procedure for Students as Risk of Academic Failure). Both of these are available at https://www.mmu.ac.uk/ academic/casqe/regulations/assessmentregulations.php. We strongly suggest talking to your Tutor, SSO, SEST or equivalent.

 

Exceptional factors

The University knows that sometimes things happen which students can’t plan for and which affect their studies. It therefore has an Exceptional Factors procedure which allows the University to give you extra chances to complete or submit pieces of work. Details of this are online at https://www2.mmu. ac.uk/student-case-management/guidancefor-students/exceptional-factors/

Essentially, you are expected to submit a statement explaining what has happened, how it has affected your ability to study and when it has affected you, along with supporting evidence. We can help you to go through this and check statements if you want us to. For more information, please see our Exceptional Factors Leaflet.


PREGNANCY

Options

If you think you might be pregnant it is important to approach your GP as soon as possible so that you have more time to plan and become aware of all the options available to you.

 

Benefits

The majority of benefits and additional student support are only available once your baby is born (i.e. Child Benefit, Income Support as a lone parent, Child Tax Credit, Parents’ Learning Allowance). Details of these are described in the Funding section of this booklet. You can prepare by filling in as much of the form as possible and then completing final information like your child’s date of birth when you know the details and have the evidence. This will save you having to try and complete the forms when you are also trying to look after a new born baby. Forms are available from your midwife or online at www.gov.uk/browse/ benefits

 

Support

What support you are entitled to will depend on how much you have been wokring and earning and, in some cases, what your contract says.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP is payable if: + By the QW you have been employed continuously for 26 weeks
+ You are employed during the QW
+ You have average weekly earnings of at least £113
+ You will be paid 90% of your average wage for the first 6 weeks and 90% capped at £140.98 per week for the remaining 33 weeks.

Contractual Maternity Pay (CMP)

Some employers will offer more maternity pay than required by law (SMP above) – you should check your contract carefully to see if this is the case for you.

Maternity Allowance (MA)

MA is payable if:
+ You cannot get SMP
+ You have worked for any 26 weeks or part weeks of the Employment Test Period
+ You have an average earning over any 13 weeks in that period of at least £30 per week (it is worth choosing the highest earning weeks)
You will be paid £145.18 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for 39 weeks.

Income Support and Housing Benefit

As a student you cannot claim Income Support or Housing Benefit unless you fit into certain categories. One of these categories is being a lone parent. This will not apply until you have given birth. More details are given in the Funding section. The support described above will be counted when calculating how much Income Support or Housing Benefit may be payable so please see us for full details.

Universal Credit (UC)

Similar to Income Support you cannot claim UC whilst you are student unless you fit certain criteria. Come and visit us to discuss this in more detail.

Surestart Maternity Grant

A one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. You usually qualify for the grant if both of the following apply:
+ you’re expecting your first child or you’re expecting a multiple birth (eg twins) and have children already
+ you or your partner already get certain benefits (ask us about this)
You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within 3 months after the baby’s birth.

 

Academic options

The first step is to read the MMU Pregnancy and Maternity Guidelines to decide which options may be suitable for you: www.mmu. ac.uk/equality-and-diversity/pregnancy/

Then you should talk to your tutor or Head of Department about implementing these options and discuss the workload and other course specific issues (for example, if you are studying chemistry or biology will the practical experiments have any effect on your baby’s or your own health).

MMU does not usually consider pregnancy to be an exceptional factor. However, pregnancy related illnesses will be considered on a case by case basis. Other issues such as an early birth may be considered an exceptional factor if it prevented you from meeting course requirements. We can discuss this in more detail if you come in for an appointment.


FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF REPEATING A YEAR

Funding for most people is fairly straightforward. When you started your course the government decided to give you funding for the length of your course plus one year (if you have to repeat one year);

Ordinary Duration (length) of the course (usually 3 or 4 years) PLUS 1 year MINUS any years you spent on Previous Course(s) (including courses you transferred from)

Therefore, if you have studied at HE level before starting your course at MMU, the amount of funding that you will have left for this course will be reduced and may not cover the entire course. However, if you failed or repeated a year because of personal difficulties (known as Exceptional Factors at MMU) Student Finance England can offer you further years of funding if you present a case to them with evidence. We can assist you with this.

Repeating without attendance

If you are repeating the year without attendance you do not have to pay tuition fees (other than a £50 fee for re-sits) but you will usually not receive student financial support from SFE. In these circumstances as a parent you may be entitled to government benefits so come and see us to chat about this further.


ACCOMMODATION

If you are living in halls or a shared student house you will need to consider your options. Most of these types of places are not suitable for children but it is worth talking to the accommodation office, hall manager or landlord about the situation.

The only housing agency we recommend is Manchester Student Homes (www. manchesterstudenthomes.com) – they are owned and operated jointly between the Manchester Universities and Students’ Unions. If they cannot help then you may need to look to other agencies or for adverts in papers or shop windows. If you feel you are being pressured into signing any contracts or accepting anything, please come and see us before you do anything. We can check over any contract before you sign it.

We offer advice on a wide range of general housing issues however there are a few issues which may be specific to your pregnancy.

 

You are asked to move out immediately

This is unlikely to be allowed under the contract – a minimum notice of period of 2 months is required in the majority of cases. Contact us or the Tenancy Relations Officers (who can deal with emergencies) at your local council for more details.

 

The Landlord is harassing you

In law, “harassment” has a very specific meaning in housing terms – there has to be intent to cause you to move out. Again, Your Advice Centre or Tenancy Relations Officers can assist. If the landlord is being overbearing or nosey, this is unlikely to meet the definition of “harassment”. Instead, it may be worth asking the landlord to respect your privacy. Ultimately the landlord should not interfere with the “quiet enjoyment” of your tenancy and if stronger words are needed we can assist with this.

 

The Landlord won't release me from the contract

Unfortunately, most student contracts are for a fixed term. This offers both you and the landlord a level of security that the landlord may be unwilling to give up. If you are leaving the contract early you are likely to be liable for rent all the way to the end of the fixed term unless you can find someone to take your place. Manchester Student Homes can help with advertising in such a situation.

If the landlord advertises or looks for a replacement on your behalf make sure you know if s/he plans to deduct the costs of advertising from your deposit.