When starting university, every student feels the pinch in their pockets when it comes to finances. However, if a student is estranged from both their parents, it can be extremely challenging.
Student Finance England currently assesses an individual’s application for finance based on a means test of their parent’s income. The decision is then made on how much an individual is entitled to. Having no contact with a parent can make this process more complex and frightful for an estranged student.
A 2015 report by Unite Students Impact, found that 4% of estranged students resort to pay-day loans to help them with their finances at university. It may help in the short-term, but the long-term prospects can trigger a chain reaction, with debts mounting up which then results to homelessness.
Reports by both NASMA, the National Association of Student Money Advisors, and NUS, the National Union of Students, have suggested some ways in which a student can prove their independence and receive financial support.
Student Finance England requires an individual to prove:
- A period of one year estranged;
- However, if there has not been a time period of one year, then the student must prove that there is no chance of reconciliation at the time the application is made.
- A third party member, independent from the family and who is a professional such as a doctor or teacher, must provide verification of the estrangement.
- A letter of evidence should also be provided, stating:
- When the situation happened
- A brief overview of what the situation is
- What has happened since then – such as who has the student lived with and who has been supporting them?
- If the student has claimed benefits in their own right under the age of 18, they should include evidence of this.
- If the student has been living in a supported housing scheme, then they should include evidence of this too.
Of course, throughout the year, circumstances may change. Contact may be re-established and the relationship may be rebuilt, but this would not impact on the finance for that year. If the student has given enough proof to be granted the appropriate finance, then they will continue to receive the payments until the end of the academic year. A new application would have to be submitted before the beginning of the next academic year.
From data collected for the year 2014-2015, Student Finance England were helping to finance 9,338 students who were going through the process of estrangement.
Stand Alone charity has recently been working on an initiative, The Stand Alone Pledge, with universities across the UK. A study the charity conducted for the initiative found that 28% of estranged students feel uncomfortable seeking support and advice at their university or college. The research also showed that 41% of the estranged students had considered withdrawing from their course because of money worries, stress and mental health issues, with 14% following through with this.
The Stand Alone Pledge allows the charity to help universities in identifying key areas of development through training conferences, so therefore, the institution is more able to help estranged students when they come to look for some advice and support.
It may seem daunting to begin with, however a perspective student does not have to worry as the support is there to help them further their education and make the future they want for themselves.
To find out more about what support and guidance there is for students in the UK, press the links here :
Feature image by Stux sourced on Pixabay