We know that being a student can be financially challenging, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the issue for some.
If you are currently experiencing temporary financial difficulty – for example, if you're careful with your money but find it difficult to afford to eat three meals a day and pay for rent and electricity – you might be eligible for financial support. Specific eligibility criteria apply, but you can find more information in the tabs below.
If your situation qualifies for help, don't try to 'tough it out' or assume that someone else needs the support more – these services are there for you.
Note that if you are having technology or internet issues, there is separate funding available for that as well. You can find more information on the COVID-19 FAQ page.
Financial support options
If you are a domestic or international student experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for financial support. For example, it could be that you are experiencing:
- reduced hours of part time work
- complete loss of part time work
- loss of financial support that was being provided by your family
- inability to pay utility bills or cover grocery expenses
- issues in covering rent/hall accommodation fees
- struggling to pay for travel costs to return to Christchurch following lockdown
The flowchart above provides a summary of the different options available and to whom.
COVID-19 Related Hardship Grant
The University of Canterbury has recently been given funding from the New Zealand Government's Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL) to support domestic students who are experiencing temporary financial hardship for reasons relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The intention of the funding is to help learners continue on with their studies. Applicants must be fully enrolled at UC, prove that their financial difficulties are the result of COVID-19, and demonstrate their willingness and ability to complete their studies.
Students may be eligible to receive support up to $2,000 if they have no dependents and $4,000 if they have dependents, but the actual value will depend on the person's financial circumstances. To make an inquiry, contact the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team.
The Kopa Iti Grant for Self-Funded UC Doctoral Candidates to assist if they are experiencing considerable and unexpected financial hardship due to COVID-19. The name Kopa Iti gives reference to an ancestor from Kāti Wairaki named Raureka who travelled from Te Tai Poutini (the West Coast) via the Nōti Raureka (Browning Pass) with her kopa iti (small purse) containing a prized pounamu toki (adze). On arrival to the Arowhenua region she was met and cared for by a party of Kāi Tūhaitara to whom she demonstrated the superiority of her sharpened pounamu toki. More importantly, she revealed the route she had taken and provoked further exploration of the foothill and the route itself. Raureka is attributed to the introduction of pounamu to the East Coast Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe and Waitaha people.
As a financial support option the Kopa Iti Grant is aimed at providing short-term emergency support only when all other financial options have been exhausted.
The Grant may be paid directly to the landlord, medical provider, repairperson (etc.) that the applicant needs to pay, or it could be paid directly to the applicant’s bank account, depending on the circumstances. If successful, students may be eligible for up to $4,000 total provided over 8 weeks.
For more information on this and the application process, contact the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team.
Pōhā Iti is a set of bursaries intended to help students that have been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19 with longer term financial support.
A pōhā is a kelp bag that was used traditionally (and is still used today) for preserving meat and birds such as tītī (muttonbird) for extended periods of time. Just as a pōhā can hold several birds at once, but we only take them out one bird at a time as we need sustenance, this financial support provides an opportunity for ākonga (students) to receive incremental payments over time in order to help sustain them in their studies.
Because of conditions attached to the HAFL funding, the bursaries are only available to domestic students or international PhD students (if you are an international postgraduate student and are not studying at the PhD level, please see information on the International Student Welfare Fund on the tab above). The value of the bursary is up to $3,000 in total split into three payments of up to $1,000 each. There are 100 bursaries available for eligible UC students to access.
Eligibility criteria for students include:
- Must be experiencing financial difficulties that are connected with COVID-19
- Must be willing and able to continue on and complete your studies
- Must be able to provide information about your financial situation
The application process should take you approximately 20 minutes to complete and can be done online here. A holistic assessment of your circumstances will be carried out based on the financial information you provide. Note that having some sources of income is not automatically disqualifying. For example, if you have some income sources but also significant outgoings (eg, because of dependents), this is something that is taken into account.
Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri
Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri is a financial assistance programme provided by the Department of Internal Affairs and managed by the New Zealand Red Cross. It has been set up to support people on temporary visas in New Zealand who have been impacted by COVID-19. It can be applied for up to three times in total. At this stage, it is only available for applications until the end of September 2020.
A set of eligibility criteria apply, including:
- Be a Foreign National who is unable to return to your home country due to COVID-19 restrictions
- Have a temporary visa that was valid on 23 March 2020
- Be in serious financial hardship
- Have exhausted all other avenues for financial support first, including those available at the University of Canterbury
Full eligibility criteria and the online application link are available on the Red Cross website. If you are unsure whether you would be eligible, the Red Cross strongly encourages people to contact them on 0800 RED CROSS (733 276 - option 1) or at email@example.com.
Please note that while there are indications on the DIA checklist that applicants must be able to return home immediately if that becomes a possibility, international students in the middle of study are exempted from this requirement and do not need to seek a flight home before applying for this support.
COVID-19 Income Relief Payment (CIRP)
The New Zealand Government has set up a non-taxable grant to support people who lost work as a result of COVID-19 of either $250 or $490 a week for a period of up to 12 weeks in order to support them to find new work or retrain. Applications can be made online from 8 June until 13 November. Specific eligibility criteria apply, so be sure to check the details.
As part of its response to the COVID19 pandemic, the Government has increased the amount available to borrow on the basis of course-related costs for full time students from $1,000 to $2,000. Refer the StudyLink website for more information.
StudyLink are also able to help with urgent costs like car repairs, dental treatment, Whiteware (fridge, freezer, etc) and food grants.
UCSA Hardship Grant
If you're experiencing temporary financial hardship because something unforeseen or unexpected has happened, and you've exhausted your options for finding a means of payment, the Hardship Grant might be able to help you.
The maximum grant to any one student should not exceed $800, and can be accessed by both domestic and international students. A set of eligibility criteria apply, including:
- You must have less than $1000 in all of your bank accounts at the date of application
- You must be able to demonstrate that you are willing and able to complete your studies and graduate from UC
- You must have exhausted all other practical possible sources of assistance before making an application
Please contact the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team to discuss the full eligibility criteria and the process to make an application.
Enrolled students at UC are eligible to apply for use of the UCSA Foodbank once a term. If approved, students are provided with $30 New World vouchers and a collection of non-perishable items that are kept in stock. The vouchers cannot be used on alcohol, cigarettes or phone cards.
To enquire about Foodbank, please contact the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team.
Food Support Service
If longer term food support is needed, you may be eligible to receive support from the UCSA Food Support Service, which provides students with up to a maximum of 10 monthly food parcels.
As before, please contact the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team if you're interested in finding out more.
International Student Welfare Fund
The International Student Welfare Fund was established to provide financial assistance to students facing an unplanned or unforeseen financial crisis. Examples of what a financial crisis could look like include the following:
- unanticipated medical expenses
- death of a close family member who was previously providing financial support
- unexpected loss of employment or scholarship
While UC wishes to support international students, those applying to this fund must remain aware of their individual financial responsibilities attached to the issue of their student visa.
The fund is managed by the Student Care team, but students are referred there by the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team in the event that they meet the criteria.
Mickle Fund Loan
If you’re a student of ability and good character who would not be able to complete your studies because of your financial circumstances, then there might be a recoverable loan available to you.
If the application is approved, you could receive a loan of up to $5,000 without interest charged while studying at UC. The loan period will reflect your financial circumstances but will not exceed 10 years. At the completion of your studies at UC, interest may be charged depending on your financial circumstances in a range between 0% and the annualized CPI as per the RBNZ applying as at the date of approval of the loan, calculated on a daily basis.
Interested students should contact the UCSA Advocacy and Welfare team to arrange an appointment. Only one loan is available to an individual student at any given time.
Emergency Accommodation – If you need emergency short-term accommodation, there are people you can talk to and places you can go.
Citizens Advice Bureau – A free advisory service with financial support information and budgeting and debt advice.
Christchurch Budget Service – Free money management programmes
FinCap – A network of free, confidential and non-judgemental budgeting services. Freephone 0508 283 438 (0508 BUDGETLINE), Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
Sorted - Online advice and budgeting templates
0800 Hungry – Food parcels delivered to your house
City Mission – The Christchurch City Mission is a social service agency that can provide immediate support, including emergency food for those in need, budget advice and advocacy, and free emergency short-term accommodation.
UC Careers – If you need a job to help fund your study, talk to careers for help on job searching, CV’s and interview prep.
Student Job Search – Don’t know where to look to find a job? Check out Student Job Search.
Coping with Financial Stress – A pamphlet for people who may be experiencing stress or mental health problems relating to financial hardship. It provides practical advice for coping with stress, solving problems, and looking after family during tough economic times. It includes information about the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and directs readers to support services if they need them.