Estranged Students (No Parental Support)
Applying for and completing a course at university can be difficult for anyone, emotionally and financially. But for ‘Estranged’ students, this can be even more of a challenge.
A lot of students applying to University will be relying on financial support from Student Finance, in the form of loans. However, some of the support available is means tested and based upon your household income. So, for students under the age of 25, who have become ‘estranged’ from their parent or guardian, it's good to know that there is a way of being assessed as an independent student. askUS can also give you help and advice on how to apply for support as an ‘independent’ student.
What does ‘Estranged’ mean?
Students who are classified as ‘Estranged’ are considered to have experienced ‘irreconcilable estrangement’ from both their parents on or before the first day (usually the 1st September) of the academic year they are applying for funding. In the past this has been determined by the amount of time the applicant has not been in contact with their parent or guardian. Usually potential students are classified as ‘estranged’, if they have not been in contact from their parent or guardian for at least a year before their application, though the Student Loan Company does recognise that this is not always the best indicator of estrangement and are flexible. All applications of ‘estrangement’ are assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the final outcome being based on the evidence you provide. So, if you have not had verbal or written contact with both of your biological or adoptive parents for a significant period of time, and is not set to change in the foreseeable future then you may be able to apply for Student Finance as an independent student, though if you have suddenly become estranged please do seek advice from Arron Pile (email@example.com), our askUS estrangement expert.
Please also note that if you have spent some time in care, but are not being supported by a local authority Leaving Care Team, you may be able to get independent status as an estrangement student. Arron is also able to advise on this matter, so you can make an appointment to discuss this further. Note: it is always best to check with your local authority if you have had no contact with them for a while as gaining independent status as a care leaver can be easier than getting it via the estrangement route.
Applying through Student Finance England
You can apply for Student Finance directly from www.gov.uk/studentfinance, though when you get to the section that asks whether you are a dependent or independent student, you should tick the box that states that you are “irreconcilably estranged from your family”. You should then send in supporting evidence, as detailed here. Please be aware that it is best to send as much supporting evidence as possible – all applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis and the more evidence you provide, the quicker Student Finance England can reach their decision, as any delay in this process could affect the date you receive your student loan payment. If you require any further support, you can contact student support via:firstname.lastname@example.org.
askUS can help you through this process!
If you need help or advice about your estrangement, come and see us in University House by registering as an estranged student and making an appointment by following the links to the right on this page. We can not only advise you on collecting evidence for estrangement for Student Finance England, but we can help you with any other issues you may be facing and point you in the right direction. This may be counselling, wellbeing advice or other sources of funding.
Stand Alone is a UK organisation that has been established to support anyone who has become estranged from their family, or primary care giver. They also run several events and workshops throughout the year that offer emotional support and well-being development, to anyone dealing with the impact and issues of estrangement, though there may be a cost to some workshops. Have a look at the website for details
The University has strong links with Standlalone and we can refer you to for specialist support or for advocacy services.
Buttle UK - provides thousands of grants to young people in the UK, often when there is no other source of help available to them. One particular grant that might be available to estranged young people is the Students and Trainees Programme.
The Student and Trainee Grants programme awards financial support to young people (aged 16-20), who are estranged from their parents to attend education.There is particular criteria and eligibility for this programme, so please ensure you check this first.
Brightside - has some useful information for students whose parents are unwilling to provide their income details, as well as estranged students finding it difficult to evidence independence.
Turn2us - is a free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. Their website has a free and easy to use benefits calculator and grants search.
If you would like to find out more about University support, or can’t find the help you are looking for, please contact the Student Support Team on email@example.com