Grants for University for those on SGO

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David Roth
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by David Roth » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:26 am

:lol:
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

LLB
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by LLB » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:16 pm

Yes I did wonder about it being edible! :lol:

I would like to update this discussion because I have had a further email from Public Communications Unit
http://www.education.gov.uk.

It states:

Thank you for your further email dated 6 October 2011 about your grandson.

I have consulted with policy officials and ******** ******** is currently considering the issues you raise. She has advised that she will be sending you a reply to your query in due course.


Hopefully I have drawn their attention to something that they cannot wriggle out of. We were promised when we took up SGOs that our grandson would not suffer as a result or lose out on anything like Care Leaver support. It took us years to first wait for the SGOs to be passed in parliament and then look at the pros and cons. Surely it is not asking too much for our grandson to get this provision which is in the legislation? Being old age pensioners in our late sixties we cannot give as much as we would like.

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David Roth
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by David Roth » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:42 am

LLB, well done on having the tenacity to follow this up. You must be very proud that your grandson is eligible for a university place. It would be such a shame if this was to be blighted by financial difficulties.
David Roth
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LLB
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by LLB » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:46 pm

Just to let you know. I have had a reply forwarded to me from the Minister for Universities and Science by my MP.

It states that students who can demonstrate that they are permanently estranged from their parents such as our grandson for whom we have SGO will be considered as Independent Students and student finance in these circumstances would be based on their income - if this is assessed as below £25,000 per year he would be entitled to not only a loan to cover the full tuition fees but also the maximum Maintenance Grant(which is non repayable) available as well as a further maintenance loan to cover living costs.

The letter goes on to mention additional support through Access to Learning Fund which is a discretionary fund which provides support for those in hardship who might otherwise not be able to access higher education.

On top of this there are various scholarships. So we will have to wait and see how we will get on but it is a start.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:27 pm

Dear LLB,
Thank you for letting us know about the reply. It is a positive start to the New Year!

I have further information about this subject that may be of interest to family and friends carers who are also special guardians. First of all, a quick note about the new bursary scheme for 16 and 18 year olds that replaces the Education Maintenance Allowance. Then I will set out guidance that relates to applying for student grants and loans.
Bursaries for young people in Further Education (to partially replace the Education Maintenance allowance)
Since September 2011 there has been a new bursary scheme in place for some 16-18 year olds who continue their education after GCSE’s. It is administered by colleges on a discretionary basis and replaces the previous Education Maintenance Allowance. Each college will have their own policy on how the bursary is awarded.
Young people subject to a Special Guardianship Order do not necessarily have a right to it but can ask their college for a copy of their eligibility criteria to see if it includes young people in family and friends care. For further information go to:
[b16to19bursary[/b]

Grants and Loans for University
Whether university students get financial support (grants and loans) will depend on their own income and the income of their parents. “Parent” here is defined as natural or adoptive so does NOT include special guardians (or relative and friend carers with residence orders).
Therefore, a special guardian’s income is not taken into account.

Does this mean that the young person/student has to go back to the natural parents to disclose details of their income? Not necessarily.

It depends whether the child/ student is “independent” of the natural parents.
Independent is defined as:
1. The young person has not communicated with their parents for more than one year; or
2. the young person is estranged from their parents in the opinion of the Secretary of State (‘the student can demonstrate on other grounds that the student is irreconcilably estranged from the student’s parents;), or
3. the young person’s parents have both died,
4. the young person was looked after by Children’s Services for 3 months ending on or after 16th birthday, and before the first day of their academic course
5. [nb there are other independent student categories that are not relevant for the purposes of this note]

The part of the guidance that will probably be most relevant for special guardians will probably be point 2 about being irreconcilably estranged.
The guidance on ‘irreconcilably estranged’ states as follows:
Students who have no contact with their parents
If you want to claim independent status because you are estranged from your parents, you must provide confirmation from a professional person outside your family who knows about your circumstances.

Examples of proof you could provide are:
• a letter from your social worker (if you have one);
• if you claimed Income Support when you were under 18, a letter from your local Jobcentre Plus office showing that you received benefits because of your situation;
• if your relationship with your parents broke down while you were at school or college, a letter from an advice worker or personal tutor or teacher, confirming your circumstances; or
• if you have visited your doctor because of problems relating to your broken relationship with your parents, a letter to confirm your circumstances.

To qualify for independent status because of this, you will need to prove that the lack of contact with your parents is irreconcilable.
You must provide evidence of this to Student Finance England explaining the circumstances which led to this. Student Finance England would normally expect you to have had no contact with your parents for at least 12 months although this may not apply in exceptional circumstances
. You will not be able to claim independent status just because you do not get on with your parents or because you do not live with them.
You will also not be able to claim independent status simply because your parents do not want to give details of their income, or refuse to provide financial support to you.
It is clear that whether a student will be classed as independent will be decided on a case by case basis. The young person subject to a special guardianship order should have a reasonable chance of being able to satisfy the ‘independent student’ category but it will be dependent on the circumstances of each individual case.
Further information can be found at
educationandlearning


assessing eligibility:
assessing eligibility
Let us know how your application goes. You must be one of the first lot of special guardians to apply under these regulations!

Best wishes,
Suzie

LLB
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by LLB » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:12 pm

[quote="Suzie, FRG Advisor"]Dear LLB,
Does this mean that the young person/student has to go back to the natural parents to disclose details of their income? Not necessarily.

It depends whether the child/ student is “independent” of the natural parents.
Independent is defined as:
1. The young person has not communicated with their parents for more than one year; or
2. the young person is estranged from their parents in the opinion of the Secretary of State (‘the student can demonstrate on other grounds that the student is irreconcilably estranged from the student’s parents;), or3. the young person’s parents have both died,
4. the young person was looked after by Children’s Services for 3 months ending on or after 16th birthday, and before the first day of their academic course5. [nb there are other independent student categories that are not relevant for the purposes of this note]

The part of the guidance that will probably be most relevant for special guardians will probably be point 2 about being irreconcilably estranged.
The guidance on ‘irreconcilably estranged’ states as follows:
Students who have no contact with their parents
If you want to claim independent status because you are estranged from your parents, you must provide confirmation from a professional person outside your family who knows about your circumstances.

Examples of proof you could provide are:
• a letter from your social worker (if you have one);
• if you claimed Income Support when you were under 18, a letter from your local Jobcentre Plus office showing that you received benefits because of your situation;
• if your relationship with your parents broke down while you were at school or college, a letter from an advice worker or personal tutor or teacher, confirming your circumstances; or
• if you have visited your doctor because of problems relating to your broken relationship with your parents, a letter to confirm your circumstances.

To qualify for independent status because of this, you will need to prove that the lack of contact with your parents is irreconcilable.
You must provide evidence of this to Student Finance England explaining the circumstances which led to this. Student Finance England would normally expect you to have had no contact with your parents for at least 12 months although this may not apply in exceptional circumstances
. You will not be able to claim independent status just because you do not get on with your parents or because you do not live with them.
You will also not be able to claim independent status simply because your parents do not want to give details of their income, or refuse to provide financial support to you.
It is clear that whether a student will be classed as independent will be decided on a case by case basis. The young person subject to a special guardianship order should have a reasonable chance of being able to satisfy the ‘independent student’ category but it will be dependent on the circumstances of each individual case.
Further information can be found at
educationandlearning


assessing eligibility:
assessing eligibility
Let us know how your application goes. You must be one of the first lot of special guardians to apply under these regulations!

Best wishes,
Suzie[/quote]

Thank you for your information but I am confused because I was told by my MP that my grandson would be classed as Independent. However, he does have contact with his parents.

You have not mentioned the bit about Special Guardianship and it following immediately a full care order regardless of what age it started. This entitles our grandson to Care Leaver Support and is in the legislation.

Might I asked if you are now suggesting that our grandson has to go back to his birth parents and be assessed on their income because that would be totally unfair?

How I read the information some months ago was that those who leave home for other reasons just cannot claim being Independent but that those who were subject to a Special Guardianship Order that followed immediately from a full Care Order could claim being Independent. His parents have had very little to do with his upbringing but that does not mean that they have no contact.

Can you point me to the part of the website that it relevant.
Many thanks
Last edited by LLB on Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

LLB
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by LLB » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:34 pm

I have found one section regarding Independence but it does not specifically include those who have been under a full care order followed by an SGO. It appears to be aimed at those who have left home other than being taken into care.

However, having said that it states that one of the criteria is that the student should have financially independent for three years. Seeing that our grandson's parents have not had financial responsibility for at least twelve years surely this should count.

We were told somewhere along the line that he would be classed as Independent and no mention was made as to whether there had been any contact with the parents. If this were the case it could rule out most students under SGOs because we are encouraged to keep up contact with birth parents both whilst under a Care Order and SGOs.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:11 pm

Hi LLB,

It is FRG’s our understanding that those children under special guardianship orders are likely to be classed as independent although there is nothing specific about children under special guardianship orders in the guidance. It is likely that each application will be decided on a case by case basis. I think that you are right about your circumstances. Let us know how you get on. You must be one of the first to tackle these new processes –and setting a precedent-so you must keep sharing what happens with the board.
Best wishes,
Suzie

LLB
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by LLB » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:50 pm

I have just received a very helpful email from a welfare officer at one of the universities that have offered my grandson a conditional place. She has been very helpful.

She states:
From the information you have provided your grandson will be eligible for the maximum student support from Student Finance England. A young person can only be assessed based on the income of natural parents, adoptive parents or a spouse if married. If none of these apply then they cannot assess grandparents income instead but will assess the student as independent. Unless the student has independent income (e.g. from investments) then they are considered to have nil income hence being entitled to the maximum support. Part time work before or during study is ignored.

Inevitably the Government requires proof of the situation to satisfy themselves that there is no relevant income to be assessed. When your grandson completes the application, there is a section that deals with ‘dependent and independent students’. He needs to select the description which applies to his circumstances. The one which seems likely to apply states “At any point from the age of 16 to the start of your course, you have not been under the care of your parents; and, for three months or more, you have been in the custody or legal care of, or have been given accommodation by, a local authority.” Being subject to a full care order followed by a special guardianship order meets these criteria.

If he applies online they will then write to him requesting evidence - providing you have documentary evidence of the Special Guardianship Order this should be sufficient.


I’m afraid this is an area which Student Finance England is not great at. Coincidentally I was at a meeting with colleagues from around the Midlands this morning discussing the issues faced in higher education by young people from a care or similar background and one concern raised was that there is no specific advice or information on the student funding website. This will be taken up with them via the channels open to us. I will also warn you in advance, when Student Finance England assesses a young person as independent they usually ask them to prove it again each year. In cases such as your grandsons this seems a waste of everyone’s time as they should really carry his independent status forward but in my experience they rarely do. If he has difficulties with this when applying for his second year funding I will be able to help him sort it out.

She also asked me whether I would mind her submitting my emails to her without my personal details to which I agreed.

On the topic of being "estranged from parents" she also confirmed that I was right and that it does not apply to those on Special Guardianship Orders or full care orders. It is for those who for other reasons live elsewhere and have had no contact with their parents.

I shall be really glad when all of this is sorted. It has stressed me out somewhat but maybe if there are any avenues where the frg can back the university welfare workers in getting student finance to alter their website it would maybe help.

Many thanks

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: Grants for University for those on SGO

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:36 pm

Dear LLB,

Thanks for your post . First of all congratulations to your grandson for getting a conditional offer on a place at university!

Thank you for posting a copy of the email that you received from the student welfare officer. This will help your case-and I am glad that she has agreed to help your grandson with his application the following year.

It is a problem that special guardianship orders do not seem to fit in with either category that has been given. I hope that the category suggested by the welfare officer is the most appropriate. You should definitely attach the advice from the welfare officer to your application.

As a note of caution, I would not normally think a young person under a Special Guardianship Order as being “Looked after” (which is the category she is suggesting). However, is it better than the alternative category?

Up to now, although each application will be dealt with on a case by case basis, I had understood that the category that will most likely fit for a child under a special guardianship order would be the “estranged from parents category”.
“The guidance on ‘irreconcilably estranged’ states as follows:
Students who have no contact with their parents
If you want to claim independent status because you are estranged from your parents, you must provide confirmation from a professional person outside your family who knows about your circumstances.

Examples of proof you could provide are:
• a letter from your social worker (if you have one);
• if you claimed Income Support when you were under 18, a letter from your local Jobcentre Plus office showing that you received benefits because of your situation;
• if your relationship with your parents broke down while you were at school or college, a letter from an advice worker or personal tutor or teacher, confirming your circumstances; or
• if you have visited your doctor because of problems relating to your broken relationship with your parents, a letter to confirm your circumstances.”


I am going to ask for further advice from our legal advisor. I will let you know how I go on. There is one thing for sure –more and more children are coming under special guardianship orders are growing up and want to go into further education.

Best wishes,
Suzie

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