Estranged students

You may be estranged from your family and be studying without the support or approval of a family network - at Essex we're committed to supporting you.

We understand that no two circumstances are the same and appreciate that you may face challenges if you're in the process of proving this status to your funding body. Your funding body may ask you to provide up-to-date evidence of your estrangement every year while you're studying.

There are many complex reasons for being estranged:

  • victims of emotional or physical abuse by family members
  • threatened with or experienced ‘honour’ based violence or forced marriage
  • experienced familial rejection based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • homeless or are at risk of homelessness
  • care leavers

The definition of an ‘estranged student’

The Office for Fair Access states that students who are estranged have no communicative relationship with either of their living biological parents and often their wider family networks as well.

Students under 25 at the start of the academic year are usually considered ‘dependent’ and are expected to provide information about their parents’ income when applying for finance. However, estranged students should only be assessed on their own household income and not that of their biological or adoptive parents.

Providing evidence confirming you are estranged from both your biological or adoptive parents:

Members of staff at the University are not able to provide evidence of your estranged status unless they know your family, or you have provided other relevant evidence (see below). Evidence based on 'the student tells me' is not accepted.

Please consider if any of the following can provide this evidence:

  • letter from your social or support worker
  • letter from a doctor that knows your situation
  • police report showing any related incidents
  • letter from a teacher or university/college lecturer that knows your situation
  • letter from a ‘person of good standing in the community’ (for example a solicitor, religious leader or a counsellor)
  • letter from a housing organisation (if you were trying to find alternative accommodation)
  • letter of support from a counselling or similar organisation who may have been helping with your estrangement
  • a court order, showing you were trying to distance yourself from your parents
  • copy of the Estrangement form accepted by your funding body (SFE form).

Support available to you

Applying to university

UCAS and Stand Alone provide information and support to help you apply to university.

Applying for student finance

Stand Alone and the Student Loans Company offer guidance on applying for funding before you start your course. Please apply as soon as possible to ensure your funding is approved for the start of your course. You can apply for your first choice of course and University, and update your funding application at a later date if you need to.

Applying for student finance through the Student Loans Company (SLC)

Your application should be based solely on your income as you're classed as an independent student. The Student Loans Company have a specialist team to help you apply for your student loan. Email them:

You'll need to provide one of the following:

  • evidence from an independent trusted person, e.g. teacher or social workers, that you have had no written or verbal contact with your parents for 12 months before the start of your course (exceptions can be made in extreme circumstances)
  • documentation to show that you have supported yourself financially for 36 months (this doesn't have to be consecutively) prior to the start of your course
  • statement from an independent trusted person (see above) that the relationship is irreconcilable and/or it's dangerous for you to contact your parents

If Student Finance England are your funding body

You can fill in their confirmation of estrangement form and submit it with your application for student finance. You can ask your independent trusted person to complete part of the form for you.


There is also a bursary available if you have experienced care or estrangement.

On-campus accommodation

As a first year undergraduate estranged student, you can apply for on-campus accommodation with a 39 week or 50 week contract from the start of your studies.

Studying at Essex

Your Student Services Hub offers advice and guidance on a range of issues, such as changing your course, financial matters, impartial money management and debt advice. You can request an appointment with a specialist adviser.

Health and wellbeing

We provide support if you’re experiencing emotional or mental health difficulties.

  • To help you while you’re studying, we have a specialist adviser for estranged students who can can listen and provide advice about the issues you may face. Contact your Student Services Hub to arrange a meeting with them.

Academic support

  • All undergraduate and taught master’s students are allocated a personal tutor to help you feel connected to your department, school or centre. You can talk to them if you have questions about your course or encounter difficulties which affect your studies.
  • Most departments run a peer mentoring scheme. As a new student, you’re allocated a mentor, who is usually a more experienced student. They will help you settle in and let you know about how you can make the most of your university experience.

Budgeting and funding


  • Residence Life are available to provide support to all students living in on-campus accommodation. Your RA can help you with wellbeing support, as well as advice and signposting to university and local services.
  • You can apply for priority on-campus accommodation for your returning years of study. Please contact your Student Services Hub and ask for the application form for Individual Needs Accommodation during the Spring Term of your first year.
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Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.