Find out what support and funding is available to estranged students in Scotland.

Content provided by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)

If you're under 25 and estranged from your parents or legal guardians, SAAS will not ask about their income when working out the funding they'll give you.

Estranged means you no longer have contact with your parents or legal guardians due to a permanent breakdown in your relationship.

If you have had any one-off contact with your parents or legal guardians while you have been estranged, SAAS look at this on a case-by-case basis. 

From 2024/25 academic year, students will receive an increase in funding.

Funding available

Estranged Students’ Bursary (ESB) and Student Loan

If you’re estranged from your parents/legal guardians, you’ll be entitled to the undergraduate funding package of the:

  • Estranged Students’ Bursary (ESB) of £1,000
  • maximum student loan of up to £10,400 for living costs

Tuition fees

  • SAAS will pay your fees directly to your college or university.
  • Fees paid are also non-repayable if you study in Scotland, but you must remember to submit an application every year.
  • If you’re studying elsewhere in the UK you can apply to SAAS for a Tuition Fee Loan of up to £9,250.


Other funding

There are other types of funding available based on personal circumstances, including grants for students who have a disability or additional learning needs, student carers, and lone parents.

These don’t usually have to be paid back.


The ESB is available to eligible full-time students taking a higher education course. You may be eligible to claim the ESB if:
  • you no longer have contact with your parents or legal guardians, due to a permanent breakdown in the relationship
  • you are under the age of 25 at the start of your course
  • you meet the SAAS residency conditions

How to apply

You should let SAAS know you’re estranged from your parents/legal guardians when applying for funding.

Theyll send you a form to complete which asks you to confirm you’re estranged. You must also have this form endorsed
by a professional person who knows your circumstances, such as: 

  • teacher, including nursery teachers
  • doctor
  • counsellor
  • college or university student adviser
  • nurse
  • lawyer/solicitor
  • police officer
  • family mediation worker
  • social worker
  • notary public
  • minister of religion

You can apply on the SAAS website from April, as soon as you know the course you want to study. Do not wait for exam results. Apply as early as possible and before 30 June to ensure your funding is in place for the start of your course (give yourself enough time to gather all your supporting evidence, which you need to upload via the document uploader on the SAAS website).

If you don’t get on the course you want, you can easily change or cancel your application online through your SAAS account

What you need to apply

You'll need your:

  • current email address
  • SAAS reference number if you have applied before
  • National Insurance number
  • bank sort code and account number
  • college or university and course details

Applying for a student loan

If you apply for a student loan, you must apply via SAAS. The Student Loans Company (SLC) will then process your payments and payment schedule.

You won’t have to start repaying your loan until the April after you graduate or leave your course.

You will be expected to pay 9% of any income you earn over £27,660 per year. This means if you earn £28,600 a year, you would repay £7.50 a month.

Payment options

If you’re on a higher education course that takes longer than a year to complete, you can choose whether to receive your funding payments over term time or to spread these payments over the year (12 months).

Choosing to receive your payments over the year offers the added benefit for you to have your financial support spread
evenly throughout the year to help you budget over the summer months. 


Getting further advice

You may be able to get additional funding from your university or college, through bursaries or discretionary funds.

Contact your college or university support teams for more information.