Tuition fees for student with Crohn's disease

HI All, my name is Ellie and I’m reaching out for support as a week before I was meant to move in to my uni accommodation. my tuition loan has unexpectedly been rejected for the first year of my degree. Unfortunately, I had been advised multiple times by student finance this wouldn’t happen therefore I have already signed a tenancy agreement, paid a deposit and accepted my place at the university therefore am really in a difficult position. Student finance have confirmed I will receive my Maintenance loan for all three years and my tuition for my second and third year, but I have to pay my tuition this year. We have managed to raise £2500 so far from wonderful Family and Friends which mean we still need to raise   £6,750 in a very short period of time. 

I was previously studying in York towards achieving a BA degree in Special Effects Make-Up, Media Make-up and Hair Design.  Unfortunately I have been really struggling to take care of my health due to Crohn’s Disease and being so far from home meaning my family are limited in the support they can offer me. After a bad year with my health, I decided to look into my options of moving to a university closer to home to be closer to my family. I was originally looking to enter year 2/3 since I had already completed 2 years in York which counted towards my BA. I ended up being accepted to University of the Arts London, which is in my eyes the Best University I could possibly go to for the degree I am doing. UAL has been voted the best in the world for Undergraduate Arts degrees and only 16% applicants receive offers to my specific degree. The degree is tailored to the industry and would majorly increase my career opportunities. However, they would only accept me into the first year as there will be too many gaps in my curriculum.

Following this I contacted Student Finance for advice, as generally they only offer 4 years of funding unless you have a 'Compelling Personal Reason' as to why you should be gifted an extra year, which in my case was the fact I was only moving due to being so unwell and needing extra support from home. After explaining the full story to the advisors, they confirmed I would be entirely eligible for this gifted year as long as I could provide evidence, which I could. I sent off a Doctors letter and information from the hospital from which confirmed I had been unwell and the difference support from home would make, with recommendations of them gifting me an extra year. I had many issues with Student Finance after this including them losing my evidence but repeatedly asking me to wait to resend it incase it just hadn’t been processed therefore made many phone calls to them since applying, in each it was confirmed that I was entitled and would have no issues with receiving the tuition loan. After 2/3 years of my BA in York, I receive a Foundation degree which allows individuals to leave if they get job offers so you still leave with a qualification, this was all detailed on the system for Student Finance throughout this process however, this was eventually why I have been rejected for the Tuition loan. From their perspective, I have finished a degree and therefore London is a whole new degree which means I am not entitled to funding. I have been in contact with many people with Student Finance since, and they are firm in their decision that I am not able to get this funding despite being misadvised for around 7 months. With such a short amount of time till this needs to be sorted, there isn’t time to wait for bursaries or scholarships and I have been unable to find any that cover the amount I need. I’ve been on the phone to different people for a couple of days and cannot seem to find a solution to this problem. 

Crohn's disease is a chronic condition that I have struggled with since the age of 8, I had a total colectomy (removal of my Large Intestine) at the age of 12 and then an ileostomy (Stoma) for 2 years. It’s been a hard journey with lots of time in hospital, strong medications and special diets, however I have always tried to be positive and have been determined to not let it get in the way of my life too much. I obtained 8 GCSEs, I was Deputy Head Girl in Sixth form and have achieved a Distinction in my Foundation Degree. Due to my Crohn’s, my health can deteriorate quickly without support around me. For instance, I really struggle with low energy and weakness as nutrients are not properly absorbed when my disease is bad, sometimes this makes it difficult to stand for Longer periods of time and walk short distances making it difficult to make meals and get to hospital appointments, this then makes me even more unwell. This is why I’ve come to realise how crucial it is to have that family support closer to me, because sometimes its just one day to top me up and I can support myself again but without it, I can deteriorate quickly. Without this support this year, I nearly had to suspend my studies. At UAL (University of the Arts London) they also have a dedicated disability team who have already been in contact with me in order to organise extra support during my time with the university which is a great start, and I am an hour train journey from home compared to a minimum of 3 hour drive that I had in York. 

UAL is such a great opportunity for me, it is my dream university and solves so many issues I was having in York, however this last minute rejection of my tuition loan has seriously put a spanner in the works. So now I have to reach out and hope I can raise my tuition fees, I know it is a huge ask and I really hate to do it but in this situation I cannot see any other options. I am attaching photos for evidence, and if you would like to see some of my work please check out my instagram @ellieshortmua.

Thank you for reading my story. Every little helps and anything would be so so greatly appreciated.

Donations (0)

  • Robert Stokes 
    • £10 
    • 5 d
  • Peter Anderson 
    • £245 
    • 7 d
  • Lynda Culley 
    • £20 
    • 7 d
  • Meghan Hicks 
    • £10 
    • 7 d
  • Patricia Hicks 
    • £100 
    • 7 d


Ellie Short 
Buckingham, South East England, United Kingdom
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