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Student finance for care leavers

Student Finance England

This article or update has been provided by Student Finance England or Student Loans Company

Publication date: 18 January 2018

What is a care leaver?

A care leaver is a young person who:

• has been in the care of, or been given accommodation by, their local authority (LA) for a period of at least 13 weeks before the age of 16, and
• hasn’t reconciled with their parents between leaving care and starting their course.

They’ll be assessed as an independent student, which means that their parents’ household income won’t be taken into account when we’re working out how much student finance they can get.

Students won’t be classed as care leavers if:

• they’ve been looked after by family members or legal guardians (without the involvement of their LA),
• have a residency order
• have been given accommodation or supported housing by a charity


These students may be able to apply as an independent student in other ways, for example, by showing they are estranged from their parents.


What’s available?

Students leaving the care of their LA are able to apply for the same support from us as other students. They’re also likely to qualify for additional support from other sources.

Care leavers on full and part-time higher-education courses will get funding from the LA that was responsible for their care. To apply for support, students should contact their personal advisor, social worker or case worker.

Care leavers may also be able to get financial support, for example fee waivers or cash awards, from their university or college. They should speak to their university or college to find out what support is available.


Students who are care leavers will be asked to provide evidence that they were looked after, or have been given accommodation by, their LA. Usually they’ll be asked to send a letter from their local council or care authority. This letter should confirm they:

• were under the care of their LA,
• have now left the care of the LA, and
• are a care leaver as defined in the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

They’ll only have to provide this evidence once, at the start of their course.
If they can’t provide the evidence asked for, they should contact us to discuss their individual circumstances.

Support for care leavers

Students can access support from their university or college’s advice centre or student union. There are also organisations that provide support for care leavers and students who are estranged from their families.

Stand Alone –
Propel –
National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) –