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Hardship Funding

Information about hardship funds available from the College and University.

There are various sources of funding available to students experiencing financial difficulties. The College prioritises cases in which financial difficulty was not foreseeable and it strongly encourages students to seek financial support from sources other than the College. Please read all of the information on this webpage before submitting an application to the College.

If you are not sure whether or not you are eligible to apply for hardship funding, please contact Angela Abbott, the Postgraduate Administrator. Email: grad.admin@caths.cam.ac.uk

NB: Our administrators are busy people. If your enquiry is answered on this webpage, they have the right not to respond.

College Hardship Fund

In order to apply for hardship funding, please download and complete the College Hardship Application Form. Once completed, the form should be submitted to the Postgraduate Administrator. However, before beginning your application, please read on to see if there are more relevant funds that you should apply to before contacting the College.

Please note:

  • The College prioritises cases whereby students have sought additional financial support from other sources, such as their department or from the University. A list of potential sources are listed below. We will not reach a final decision until you have notified the Postgraduate Administrator of the outcome of your other applications. Contingency awards can, however, be made in cases of immediate need.
  • The College prioritises cases whereby financial difficulty was not foreseeable.
  • Hardship funding is not designed to be a long-term solution for postgraduates. The budget planner on the application is designed to help you think about how you intend to manage your expenses and costs going forward. Students who have provided a thorough budget plan will be prioritised.
  • It is essential that your supervisor provides the relevant endorsement for your application.​ Incomplete applications will be returned.

Other Hardship Funding

The University of Cambridge Hardship Fund

All postgraduate students are expected to have arranged sufficient funding for the duration of their studies. The University Hardship Fund aims to support students who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of unexpected changes in their financial circumstances. The awards are intended to support students who would otherwise be unable to complete their research or study.

Please note that:

  • awards are not normally made for more than £2,000. 
  • all PhD students are eligible (including PhD students in their first year). 
  • applicants must currently be in financial hardship (speculative applications are not permitted). 
  • applicants must be able to demonstrate that their hardship is a result of unexpected changes in their financial circumstances, rather than a result of insufficient funding being available from the outset of the course. 
  • applications for thesis binding costs will be considered by the Postgraduate Hardship Fund. In order to be eligible, students have to be in current financial hardship.

There are strict deadlines for when applications can be submitted. Please visit the University Hardship Fund webpage for full details.

The Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust

The Cambridge Trust will consider applications for assistance:

  • if it is clear that hardship has occurred because of an unforeseeable change of circumstances since you came to Cambridge.  This would include bereavement or illness.  It would not necessarily include the failure of overly optimistic funding plans.
  • if you are nearing the end of your degree course.
  • if the grant from the Trust (and other sources) will be sufficient to enable the successful completion of your course.

Students must receive support from the College in order to apply to the Trust. If the College agrees to help, the Trust will take into account any financial aid which is offered.  A hardship payment from the Trust would be a one-off payment, not exceeding £5,000 as the Trust has limited resources and has to consider requests on an individual basis.

Cambridge Political Economy Society

The Cambridge Political Economy Society aims to advance the education of the public in political economy and related matters, and to promote research in matters pertaining to political economy. The Society will consider two types of applications - those for Supplementary Funding and those for Emergency Funding. Both applications are welcomed from students currently undertaking a full time PhD within the field of Political Economy in any Faculty or Department of the University of Cambridge.

The Trustees interpret research in political economy to include work of a theoretical, applied, interdisciplinary, history of thought or methodological nature, having a strong emphasis on realistic analysis, the development of critical perspectives, the provision and use of empirical evidence, and the construction of policy.

Supplementary Funding

Supplementary grants are made by the Trustees in (1) cases where a modest grant will enable a research student registered for the full time PhD degree to complete a PhD dissertation or (2) cases where a small grant may help the procurement of funds from elsewhere. Although all eligible students may apply, priority is normally given to those nearing the end of their studies. Please check the website for relevant deadlines.

Emergency Funding

The Trustees may make up to six grants annually, to a maximum of £1,000 each. These grants are only for eligible research students who can show that they are in immediate and unanticipated financial need. There is no deadline. Applicants should demonstrate that they have exhausted all other funding possibilities and have no other means of meeting the expenses for which they are applying.

The Cambridge Philosophical Society

The Cambridge Philosophical Society has a Research Studentship fund for the award of studentships or grants for research in the natural sciences or any branch of technology or mathematics.  The purpose of these awards is to provide for the continuation of an exceptionally promising piece of research beyond the usual standard of the PhD or alternatively to allow extra time for the completion of a PhD thesis which has been delayed by circumstances outside the applicant’s control. 

Awards will be tenable for a period not exceeding three months.  The level of demand for awards is such that it is unlikely that more than £750 will be awarded other than in exceptional cases. A list of ineligibility criteria is available on the Cambridge Philosophical Society website. ​

Please note that the College will not consider applications to the St Catharine's Hardship Fund from students who are eligible for Cambridge Philosophical Society membership who have neither joined the society nor applied for assistance.

Funding for disabled students

If you are awarded funding from one of the seven main Research Councils, you will be eligible to apply for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) from your funding body. If you are a home student funded by a body that does not have Disabled Students' Allowances or if you are applying as a self-funded home graduate disabled student, you might be eligible for DSAs from the Students Loan Company to help support you in your graduate studies while at Cambridge.

Under UK legislation, the University is required to make reasonable adjustments to make the University accessible to disabled students. In addition, funding is available from the UK government to meet the additional costs of making adjustments for most UK national disabled students.

You can also apply for financial assistance with disability-related expenses to the Snowdon Trust, the Disabled Students' Bursary Fund, and the International Disabled Students' Fund. Other information on funding for disabled students is available on the Disability Resource Centre website.

Students with a suspected specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) should email the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) for advice about how to be assessed for a specific learning difficulty. A diagnostic assessment report usually costs £400. The College Hardship Fund is open to applications for students who need financial assistance in meeting such costs.

Funding for medical costs

Crane's Charity

The Crane's Charity exists to provide financial assistance to members of the University who need treatment for physical or mental illness. Assistance is provided by grants for junior members in residence towards the cost of:

  • medical, surgical, or psychiatric treatments
  • items associated with such treatment (for instance, nursing home, convalescent accommodation, travel etc)
  • treatment for injuries resulting from accidents

A list of ineligibility criteria can be found on the website. In all cases, treatment should not be conveniently or readily obtainable under the NHS. Students with disabilities are generally expected to seek assistance through the Disability Resource Centre. The Distributors nevertheless consider applications relating to disability on a case-by-case basis; assistance may be provided, for instance, where the student has acquired a disability since matriculation and where no other financial support is available.

Colleges are normally also expected to make a contribution. Applications are made by the College Graduate Tutor on your behalf and can be submitted at any time. A diagnostic assessment from your medical practitioner and relevant receipts will be required. A decision is normally made within a month.

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