Independent Status

What is Independent Status?

You have to meet certain criteria to be assessed as independent. If you’re assessed as an independent student then Student Finance England (SFE) won’t take your parents’ income into account. They’ll ask for your income details and if you have a partner they’ll ask for their income details too.

Can I be classed as Independent?

You have to meet certain criteria to be considered an independent student.  For instance:

  • you’re 25 years old or over prior to September 1st of that academic year
  • you have been married or in a civil partnership before September 1st of the academic year
  • you have the care of a person under the age of 18
  • you have no living parents
  • you can prove that you supported yourself financially for the 3 years before the start of your course

You can see the full list of criteria on SFE’s leaflet.

What if I’m not in contact with my parents?

If you haven’t been in contact with your parents - usually for a year or longer - and this isn’t likely to change you can apply as estranged student. For further information please read the information on Standalone’s website.

Am I independent if I’ve been in care?

You can apply for independent status if you were looked after by a local authority throughout any three month period ending on or after the date you turned 16, and before the first day of the first academic year of your course.

Have I supported myself financially?

You need to be able to prove that you have earned enough money to live on for 3 full years prior to the start of your course. Living in the parental home can stop you being considered independent unless you can prove you were contributing to the household. Your parents choosing not to give you money doesn’t mean you’re financially independent.

How does being Independent change my funding package?

Independent students are assessed on their and/or their partner’s household income. For most students this results in you being paid a higher amount of maintenance loan.

How do I tell SFE that I’m Independent?

SFE will ask questions about your personal circumstances on your online application. Once you’ve answered these questions SFE will ask for evidence to support your claim. 

Examples of evidence include:

  • a copy of your marriage certificate if you’ve been married
  • copies of P60’s or payslips if you’ve supported yourself financially
  • birth certificates for children under the age of 18 and evidence you’re caring for them, such as Child Benefit or Universal Credits letters.

If you need any help with your application for independent status you should get in touch with the Student Advice Centre in the Students’ Union. They can support you in gathering all relevant information and building a case.