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Son in mental health crisis, hidden that uni had thrown him him out

My son has autism and other dx. We went through DSA and he qualified for taxi that he shared with his sister.

He struggled with transition so we paid ourselves for a room for him at uni for between lectures.

After Christmas my son stopped going to lectures due to anxiety and just being overwhelmed but told no one.

Only now has it all come out that the uni have thrown him off the course for non attendance. He ignored every email he was sent and responded to noone and just sat in his room every day. No one from the uni contacted us. He still has his uni ID. He stopped going to mentoring after Christmas as well.

The faculty clearly told no one in welfare that he had been thrown off the course. Uni clearly also have not informed student finance either so still took the tuition money and my son still paid his main loan.

Son has now told the autism team at uni everything. And then of course me. Son is now suicidal, has seen a GP and is now signed off for 3 months and is on strong medication to get him through the crisis.

Now uni welfare also washed hands of him as he's no longer a student. They've arranged a meeting with the uni finance team for Monday to discuss what happens next.

I am absolutely distraught whilst trying to support my son as best as I can but now am so worried about what will happen with student finance and what is the best way to try and resolve it. Obviously my son in no current mental state to deal with any of this so I need to now try and sort it out but I'm sick with anxiety of what the financial implications are going to be plus still can't believe that absolutely no one from the uni made any actual human contact with him even if it was just to make sure he was even alive!

An appeal has been lodged to see if he can restart in September but that could be weeks before a decision is made and I'm not sure if he will even be well enough to return in September
Hi, I've moved this thread to the student financial support forum, as the Ask SFE forum is for questions specifically about SFE policies/procedure rather than general queries about finance at uni.

Obviously a lot has gone on and this is quite a difficult time. I would however gently note that if a student has withdrawn from a university (or been withdrawn from one) it is the student's responsibility to notify SFE, not the university's - as the loan is taken out in the student's name. This is obviously immaterial at this point for your specific case but I'm noting for posterity in case someone in future comes across this thread with a similar query (but before this point!).

Similarly, as the loan was taken out in his name, he will need to be involved in the process to some extent - for example if you need to phone SFE, he will need to at least speak to them to confirm his personal details for data protection purpose and then give his explicit consent for someone else (such as yourself) to discuss the matter further and undertake any necessary action on his behalf. They won't be able to discuss his application etc with anyone else without him confirming the data protection information and giving consent (each time). So this is just something to be aware of as you move forward.

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In terms of the student finance, to begin with students get funding entitlement equal to the length of the current course, plus one year (called the "gift year"), minus the number of years in higher education previously. So if he started a new 3 year degree and was withdrawn from his previous course in year 1, his entitlement would be 3 + 1 -1 = 3, so enough to cover the full course in any event. So that is certainly possible in the future.

Additionally it is possible to apply for Compelling Personal Reasons (CPR) for an additional year of funding entitlement if there are suitable extenuating circumstances. Your son's situation most certainly qualifies (it is similar to what my situation was when I applied to CPR, although his seems more acute than mine even). The main thing to note for preparing for that when he reapplies to SFE again and applies for CPR is to start gathering the relevant evidence needed - as when you make that application, you need to send all relevant evidence to their team so they can make a decision.

So at minimum, a letter from GP confirming diagnosis and, if possible, adding some colour to the picture about how it has affected his studies; letters from any counsellors/therapists/etc he might be seeing or see in future; if available also a letter from the university accessibility team (or equivalent) if he had been in touch with them. In addition to that what I did was write a "cover letter" basically explaining the full situation, and so between that and the evidence provided the team had as much information as possible (I was successful in applying for it so as noted, I am confident that your son would be considered).

Regarding the immediate matter of the maintenance loan taken out - you will need to get confirmation from the uni when he was withdrawn from the course. I would expect they would have sent a letter notifying him of this. You will then need to get in touch with SFE to discuss whether there was any "overpayment" of maintenance loan. If a student withdraws from a course, they only need to pay back how much of their maintenance loan they hadn't yet been "due" to use pro-rata (e.g. if they withdrew haflway through the final term after receiving their third instalment, they would be normally be expected to pay back half of that third instalment only - the first two would not need to be repaid).

So he may or may not need to repay some of that most recent instalment of maintenance loan - however I understand SFE are fairly amenable to arranging payment plans so if you discuss the situation with them and can't pay the amount immediately I would imagine they will be happy to arrange a payment plan. Of course it's also possible he may not need to repay anything, if he was withdrawn at the end of the final term for example.

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Moving slightly away from the financial picture of things, I would caution against the urge to immediately try and go back in the following academic year after a situation like this. I can fully understand the desire to do so for a student (and potentially their parents) but it's very important to take a step back, take stock, and think things through first. Because the worst thing that can be done is to rush back into a new course elsewhere, and have the exact same situation reoccur because the underlying issues haven't had time to be addressed. This then can cause more problems later as at that point after two years of study at higher education level, he would not normally be eligible for full funding for a full time degree course and would likely need to self fund one or more years of tuition fees, which may also then lead to more situations which can trigger this kind of acute reaction.

I would really strongly recommend planning to take at least a year out from education in general - focusing on resting, recovering, seeking treatment as appropriate and ideally in line with that, looking at strategies to plan ahead for if he is going to return to higher education to pre-empt this situation so if the similar patterns start occurring, at least it's can be recognised earlier, support reached out to earlier, relevant bodies notified of whatever needs to be notified to essentially ensure this worst case scenario is avoided in the first place :smile:


Spoiler

Is uni the right place for him,
Could he do open university at home or get suitable a job that he likes instead maybe something computer based from home?
If university in person made him suicidal then it doesn't seem worth it to me.
The finance will be ok you can work out a payment plan if necessary but he may not need to pay anything depending on the date the uni kicked him off the course.
Get well soon to your son.
Don’t worry there is a 100% chance of the appeal being successful.

Just focus on ensuring his mental health is in great condition, be completely supportive and don’t baby him too much as it might make him feel guilty.
Reply 4
Hi guys, just though I would add an update. Son appeal was allowed but then he also applied to take an extended leave of absence until next year but has now withdrawn officially from the uni. He's now going to restart next year doing a different subject at a different uni.

Student finance was a nightmare. He did get overpaid but thankfully still had the money to repay it which we did though student finance didn't make it easy. He's slowly getting back to being himself we are using this year off to concentrate on his mental health and is doing things he enjoys. It's quite a long journey but now 6 months on things definitely seem brighter
Original post by bjkmummy
Hi guys, just though I would add an update. Son appeal was allowed but then he also applied to take an extended leave of absence until next year but has now withdrawn officially from the uni. He's now going to restart next year doing a different subject at a different uni.

Student finance was a nightmare. He did get overpaid but thankfully still had the money to repay it which we did though student finance didn't make it easy. He's slowly getting back to being himself we are using this year off to concentrate on his mental health and is doing things he enjoys. It's quite a long journey but now 6 months on things definitely seem brighter

Good to hear an update, wishing you both all the best!

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