Many students become estranged from their family network for a variety of reasons, for example: religion, sexuality, financial control, long term difficult home environments.
Some students find themselves shut out of the family, with all financial/ emotional support being withdrawn, because of the choices and decisions they have made.
Others will make the decision themselves as they recognise their family environment has become untenable.
The implications of the lack of support when you are studying or starting your university life can feel overwhelming.
Whatever the reason for your estrangement, we can help you. We want you to thrive and succeed and so the University of Exeter, along with many other Universities, has signed the “stand-alone pledge”. Both the University and the Guild are wholeheartedly committed to supporting students who do not have parental approval or support.
I myself became estranged after my first year of university. This was an extremely stressful, anxiety inducing time and coming back to university knowing I had no familial support took a toll on my mental health. I can only imagine how this must feel for freshers who are estranged or care leavers. It can be easy for regular university students to forget how much support their families provided for them when they first got to university, students tend to love the independence they get once they move to university. However, some people are thrust into independence without a clue how to navigate this new environment that is university.
The major hurdle for many students without parental support is funding and how they evidence their estrangement, so they can be granted independent status by Student Finance (England, Wales or Northern Ireland depending on where you lived before coming to University).
Independent status means that Student Finance will provide the maximum maintenance loan where the student’s income is below £16,000pa.
In addition, because estranged students have no household income, the Access to Exeter Award also provides additional support of £2,100 in year 1 and £1,550 in each subsequent year.
In common with many institutions, the University of Exeter has an Estrangement Bursary which we can help you access to pay for your summer accommodation and other unexpected costs.
Student Finance’s criteria to consider you as being irreconcilably estranged from your parents are that you haven’t had any written or verbal contact with either parent for at least twelve months, and this is unlikely to change.
Please be reassured that Student Finance will consider all cases as sudden estrangement does happen and they understand that finding 12 months’ evidence can be difficult and traumatic.
We can advise you on your statement as well as who you could ask to provide supporting statements.
I have been a recipient of estrangement funding from the university of Exeter since I began my studies in 2017. The team have been extremely kind and accommodating given my estrangement. Before university I worked multiply jobs to be able to try and build up some money to be able to afford living costs at university. Although I received a student loan from SFE, it was merely not enough to supplement food, bills, course costs and various other expenses. The Advice unit helped me come out of financial struggle which made my university experience 10x better, meaning I could go to lectures and seminars as well as have find new experiences with friends.
Before Covid19 we were holding free monthly brunches on campus for students to meet.
We have representatives from Career Zone, Wellbeing, Student recruitment and me to listen and to answer any queries or concerns you may have.
There is now a weekly virtual coffee morning held on a Thursday Morning@11am. Please contact email@example.com for the link to join us.
We hope to re start the Brunches as soon as it can be done safely.
We are constantly looking at ways to enhance your student experience, we are very open to any ideas, feedback that improves your time at University.
Our welcome package
For estranged students who are registered with the Student Loans Company as ‘independent’ students, we can offer access to our Widening Participation welcome package of support and funding – see https://www.exeterguild.org/news/article/6001/Widening-Participation-Funding/ for more details.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to talk through your situation, and for information on the support we can provide.
For more information on the Standalone pledge, see www.thestandalonepledge.org.uk/.