Independent student status

Exchange editorial team

Providing up-to-date information about our student finance products and services.

Publication date: 30 January 2019

As you’ll know, students are usually assessed for student finance based on the income of their parents. Even if they live with another relative who supports them financially, such as a grandparent, we’d still expect their biological or adoptive parents to provide their financial information.


Going to university without the support of a family network might be intimidating for many students, so we want to ensure that you have all the information you need to support them.


Students can be considered independent if they:

  • are over 25 years old
  • are married or in a civil partnership
  • have children
  • are irreconcilably estranged from their parents
  • have supported themselves financially for 3 years before their course


Students cannot apply as ‘estranged’ just because:

  • their parents don’t financially support them
  • they don’t get on with their parents
  • they don’t live with their parents


For students to be considered as estranged from their parents, we would usually expect them not to have had written or verbal contact with either of their parents for a year. However, If you’ve had contact with either parent in the last 12 months, we’ll still consider your application.


Students can also be considered independent if they don’t know the location of their parents, or if their parents are living in a country where it would be considered dangerous to contact them.


They can also be considered independent if they can show they’ve supported themselves financially for at least 36 months prior to the start of their course. These 36 months don’t have to be consecutive and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Students must demonstrate they’ve earned enough to maintain their own home during that period.


Providing evidence

Students who were under the care of their local authority throughout any 3 month period ending after they turned 16, will also be considered independent. They would need to provide evidence such as a letter from a social worker confirming their situation.


You can support your students by encouraging them to gather as much evidence as they can. This will give us the best possible chance of understanding their situation. Help them ensure they’ve explained their circumstances clearly – you could suggest they make a timeline of key events if they feel comfortable doing so.


Students should never seek out information that could harm their physical or mental health. If they’re estranged from their parents, they’re not obliged to tell us the reasons why, but it can help us get a better understanding of their situation if they do.


The easiest way for a student to provide their evidence of estrangement is by filling in the ‘Confirmation of Estrangement Form’. They can get this form on their online account once they have submitted their application.


Otherwise they can send us letter from a person of good standing in the community such as a teacher or social worker. This person must know the student’s situation and must not be related to them.


If the student cannot find someone to complete the form, they can contact the student services/wellbeing advisor at their college or university. We can accept confirmation of estrangement from the university or college without them having prior knowledge of the student’s situation.


You can help students find more information about independent and vulnerable students by directing them to our student finance zone at The Student Room. If students are looking for further support, they can visit the Stand Alone website.