Working out means-tested Student Finance funding (2019/20)

Entitlement to parts of the funding from Student Finance depends on the level of your household income. You will need to know who is in your household and what income is included in the means-test before you can work out your funding.

Independent status and funding

Student Finance assumes that you are the financial responsibility of your parents unless you can prove otherwise. This is up to the age of 25. The following circumstances are ones that indicate that you are ‘independent’ from your parents:

  • if you have had a child
  • if you have been married or in a civil partnership
  • if you have been in care
  • if you have supported yourself for 36 months
  • if you are irreconcilably estranged from  your parents.

This is not an exhaustive list, and you may wish to seek further advice if you feel that you should be assessed as independent.

What evidence do I need to prove self-support for 36 months?

You will need to provide evidence of earnings or benefit receipt for 36 months prior to the start of your course. The 36 months do not have to be consecutive; they can include any month where you earned enough.

There is no fixed amount but, as a rough guide, earning more than £8,000 per year may be seen as sufficient. Evidence could include wage slips, P60s and benefit award notices.

What if I am estranged from my parents?

There are many causes of estrangement, from disagreement over the decision to study at university to a negative family reaction to a student’s sexuality or gender identity.

You are classed as estranged if you are ‘irreconcilably estranged’ from your parents on or before the first day of the academic year (1 September for September course starts) for which you are applying for funding, and there is no expectation that this will change.

To claim independence on the basis of estrangement, you will need to source a supporting letter/s from third party professionals who are aware of the circumstances. This can include:

  • a letter from a social worker (if you have one) or a police or social services report
  • a letter from an advice worker, personal tutor or teacher, confirming your circumstances
  • a letter from your doctor to confirm your circumstances.

If you claimed Income Support when you were under 18 years old, a letter from your local Jobcentre Plus office showing that you received benefits because of your situation.

Current students

If you are a current student and would like some advice about proving estrangement to a funding body, or if you are having difficulty proving estrangement, please contact a UWE Bristol Money Adviser. You can get in touch by completing an online InfoHub enquiry and the team will respond afterwards. This enquiry will ask you a series of questions about your circumstances so that we are best placed to answer your query as efficiently as possible.

You may also want to visit the Standalone website for guidance.

Prospective students

If you are a prospective student and would like some advice about proving estrangement to a funding body, or if you are having difficulty proving estrangement, please contact a UWE Bristol Money Adviser by emailing

You may also want to visit the Standalone website for guidance.

Estranged students may qualify for the UWE Cares bursary and pastoral support.

Student Finance and UWE Bursary means test

If you are under 25 on 1 September, Student Finance will want the income details of your parents unless you are considered as ‘independent’.

If you are dependent on your parents, Student Finance will want income details for both parents if they are living together. If they are not living together, Student Finance will want the details of the parent with whom you have lived most recently or have most contact with. If your parent is living with a partner, civil partner or spouse, then Student Finance will need their details too.

If you are 25 or over you will need to provide the income details for your co-habiting  partner or spouse. If you are an independent student under the age of 25, only the income of your spouse or civil partner is included. If you are single and independent, then Student Finance will just use your income in the means-test.

All students: Student Finance will request an estimate of your unearned taxable income for the coming academic year. Examples of unearned income includes income from employers who are releasing you to study, property rentals and investment income. Your part-time earnings are not required.

What income counts for the Student Finance means-test?

For parents or partners, SFE will need the gross taxable income for the financial year 2017/18 for 2019 entry, and 2018/19 for 2020 entry. For you, SFE will need an estimate of unearned taxable income for the academic year of your studies. SFE ignore income from part-time earnings (except job release or secondment earnings).

What if that income has dropped?

If your household income has dropped by 15% since the financial year used for the assessment, let SFE know and they may be able to increase your funding by using the ‘current’ financial year. You can only do this if your household income was originally above £25,000 for students funded by Student Finance England, or above £18,370 for students funded by Student Finance Wales. You will need to complete a current year income assessment form. See the SFE website or SFW website for further details.

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