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New Partnership Means Funds in Minutes for Students Facing Hardship

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More than a third of students find themselves running out of money before the end of term, with almost 1 in 5 (18%) students relying on their grant, hardship loan, bursary or scholarship to pay their rent.

A new payment solution can help reduce the time students have to wait to receive these payments.

NatWest’s payments solution Payit and university services provider JS Group have joined forces to roll out an innovative solution to the UK university sector, to get bursary and hardship funds to students in minutes rather than days.

The new service aims to simplify access to money, by helping students mitigate financial hardship with faster payments directly into their bank account and has been launched with universities across the UK.

The launch comes as the NatWest Student Living Index* finds that more than a third (35%) of students have found themselves running out of money by the end of term – 8% higher than in 2021. Almost one in five (18%) students shared that they find managing their money stressful. For the 2022 report, 2,964 students across the UK were surveyed, with key financial pressures on students identified.

Mike Elliff, CEO, Payit by NatWest comments:

“Paying for university life will be the foremost consideration for many students right now as the new academic year approaches and the cost of living starts to bite. Quick and practical access to funding will be a priority for some students as they pursue further education.

“With more than a quarter of students across the UK being offered financial support by their university, university finance and administration teams face increasing pressure from students needing to access their funds quickly.

Our payment solution can play a vital role in improving the university experience of students at a time when they are feeling the financial strain the most, transforming the way in which universities and students deliver and receive funding – a process that now takes minutes and not days.

“It’s an industry first having the capability to capture intent at the point of drawdown and get a broader understanding of how students are spending their much-needed funds. All of which can be introduced to a university within just a month.”

With JS Group estimating that £800m to £1bn is being issued to students each year, the administrative cost and time for universities processing payments continues to grow.

These payments include a combination of criteria-based awards and application-based payments such as bursaries, digital access funds, hardship funds and endowments, scholarships and other 3rd party funding schemes.

Payit means universities don’t need to collect and verify student bank account details manually. Instead, Institutional finance teams simply need to provide details of benefitting students and their award.

Using the Payit API solution, through the Aspire Cash** funding platform, JS Group can then set-up accounts for those benefitting students and send them details of how to access their funds. Students can drawdown their funds when and where they like, to the bank account of their choice using their smartphone and a two-stage verification process.

This innovative approach offers students access to funds in real time, control of where the funds are sent and help with budgeting.

This enables universities to be able to offer a better customer experience for students, benefit from cost savings as it reduces the involvement of a finance team, lessens any data security obligations associated with student bank details and provides the university with the opportunity to capture more student data and insight about students with financial support needs which in turn can help inform better targeted allocation of funding.

Peter Gray, CEO, JS Group comments:

“Universities could save between 5-15% of their current total administration costs by adopting this innovative approach to payments.

“But in addition to this substantial cost saving which frees up administrative staff to offer direct support to students, this approach significantly improves the experience for students and universities by giving financial control back to students to be able to manage their funds as suits them best.

Kirsten Black, Director, Student Journey at the University of Sunderland, comments:

“We have been using Aspire Cash this year and the feedback from students and staff has been very positive. The service is straightforward for students to use and the university to operate, and it is great to have data and insights into how students are using their funds.”

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