Student finance has been a big worry for me lately, and I was wondering if anyone here might have some advice on my (complicated) case.
I'm 19, and I've been estranged from my birth father since I was about 11. I have no idea where he is, what he's doing, even if he's alive any more. I'm also estranged from my mother, and have been for roughly three years since moving out to live with my adoptive - but not legally - dad (ex-boyfriend of several years of my mother). The move was abrupt, fairly long-distance (about 70 miles), and I left behind most of my personal belongings.
During that period of time I also dropped out of college due to difficulty with mental illness, but did get a part-time job which paid about £150 every four weeks from March until August 2015 (approx. 5 months), when I had to quit because I was starting my A-Levels again and the hours didn't work for me any more. I got a second job with better hours that paid more like £100 every four weeks from November 2015 to March 2016 (8 months), when again I had to quit due to mental illness/college commitments.
Unfortunately my dad and I fell out, and I was kicked out on the 2nd of January 2016, and have been self-sufficient financially since then between working and receiving Income Support - that's another 8 months. I was briefly on the street but luckily got a place at the YMCA, which has very low rent, so out of term time I've just been able to scrape by on the measly £50 every two weeks the DWP think is enough to sustain a single person paying rent. I get band A bursary fund from my college, which includes £30/week payments, so term time is a lot easier on me and I have some savings behind me for the holidays.
In total to date I've been arguably financially self-sufficient for 21 months, when the guidelines demand 36 months. However, I don't know if the estrangement from my birth family would be sufficient to apply for independent status, and whether I could be classed as a "rent-free" tenant of my adoptive dad, since there are no legal documents indicating our relation beyond my change of name deed poll (I'm transgender and changed my surname alongside my birth name). Dad's a shift worker, so I looked after myself 99% of the time, and he did previously have paying lodgers.
I have no financial support whatsoever from my family and the few times I've tried making contact it's been brief and passably civil. Not sure about references yet. I know independent status is assessed on a case by case basis, but is it likely that I'd be awarded it - or am I close, but no cigar?
Thanks for any input, much appreciated.
Applying as an independent student?
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