Most students under 25 who are entering Higher Education are considered to be ‘dependent’ on their families. However, if you have a permanent lack of contact with your parents, you would be considered independent from your family
For ‘dependent’ students, student finance maintenance loans are means tested on household income, which means that they would need to provide evidence of parental income.
However, if you are estranged from your parents, student finance can be assessed against your own income and you will be asked to provide evidence that you are estranged from your family in order to qualify for additional financial support.
How to prove estrangement
If you want to apply for independent status because you’re estranged from your parents, you must provide confirmation from a professional person, outside your family, who knows about your circumstances. Examples of evidence you could provide are:
• A letter from your social worker (if you have one).
• If you claimed income support when you were under 18, a letter from your Jobcentre Plus office showing you received benefits because of your situation.
• If your relationship with your parents broke down while you were at school or college, a letter from an advice worker, personal tutor or teacher, confirming your circumstances.
• If you’ve visited your doctor because of problems relating to the breakdown of your relationship with your parents, a letter from the doctor to confirm your circumstances.
Applying for funding
To qualify for independent status through estrangement, you will need to prove the lack of contact with your parents is permanent. Student Finance would normally expect you to have had no contact with your parents for at least 12 months, although this may not apply in exceptional circumstances.
You won’t be able to apply for independent status just because you don’t get on with your parents or because you don’t live with them. Similarly, you won’t be automatically able to apply for independent status because your parents refuse or don’t want to provide details of their income.
If you need help proving estrangement, you can contact our Money Advice Team & arrange an appointment with one of our Money Advisers.