Most full time students cannot claim benefits. There are a few groups of full time students who are able to claim while studying. These are explained below.
Part time students can claim benefits.
Full time and part time students with children or who are working as well as studying can claim tax credits.
Full time students that are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independance Payment are eligble to claim benefits.
International students cannot claim benefits or tax credits apart from help with health costs on low income grounds.
Benefits and tax credits are changing. Some of the benefits and tax credits listed here will be replaced by Universal Credit.
You can get free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment during your pregnancy and for 12 months after the baby is born. You need to apply for a Maternity exemption certificate through your Midwife, Doctor or Health Visitor.
If you have a child aged under 5 you can claim Income Support. If you pay rent and have a child aged under 16 (or under 20 in some circumstances) you can claim Housing Benefit. Income Support and Housing Benefit are means tested so many students who can claim find their income is too high to qualify. This changes in the summer vacation because student finance does not count as income for benefit purposes at this time.
If you pay rent you can claim Housing Benefit all year round but your student finance will count as income so you may not qualify for much help apart from during the summer vacation. Some student couples with a child can claim Income Support during the summer vacation. To be eligible you must be in one of the general groups of people who can get Income Support (for example, a carer). Your child must also be aged under 16 (or aged under 20 in some circumstances). If you cannot claim Income Support, you or your partner can claim Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA) during the summer vacation. The person who claims must be available for work and meet all the basic rules for JSA.
Students with a disability can claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP is a relatively new benefit. Before April 2013, students with a disability could claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If you are still receiving DLA you will be invited to apply for PIP when your current DLA award ends. PIP and DLA are not means tested so receiving student finance does not affect the amount of benefit you receive.
You can also claim Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and, if you pay rent, Housing Benefit. Income-related ESA and Housing Benefit are means tested so students who can claim may find that their income is too high to qualify. This changes in the summer vacation because student finance does not count as income for benefits purposes at this time.
If you qualify for Disabled Student's Allowance because you are deaf you can claim Housing Benefit. You do not need to be receiving PIP or DLA to claim.
You will not be able to claim benefits unless one of the following two exceptions applies -
You can claim JSA and Housing Benefit from the date your caring responsibilities ended or you recovered from your illness. You can claim for one year until the date you re-join your course.
If you leave university because you withdraw from your course or you have completed your course, you can claim JSA or ESA (if you are assessed as having limited capability for work because of health problems or a disability). You will also be able to claim Housing Benefit (if you pay rent) and Council Tax Support (if you are liable to pay Council Tax). You can normally claim from the first Monday after you have left. If you have completed your course this will be the first Monday after the last day of the academic year, not the last day of your exams.
Yes - a non-student partner who is entitled to claim benefits can continue to claim but your student finance will be taken into account so the amount your partner receives may be reduced.
Yes but only if you are registered on a part time course. If you are on a full time course but attending on a part time basis (for example, because you are repeating some modules from last year) you will still count a a full time student for benefits purposes. This means you will not be able to claim unless you fall into one of the exceptional categories outlined above (for example, you are a lone parent).
If you are registered on a part time course you can claim JSA or ESA. You can also claim Housing Benefit (if you pay rent) and Council Tax Support (part time students are not exempt from Council Tax). If you claim JSA you will need to be available for work and actively seeking work. If you claim ESA and you are placed in the Work Related Group you will need to take part in work-focussed interviews and may have to undertake work-related activity as a condition of getting full benefit.
If you are writing up your PhD on a part time basis you can claim JSA provided that your hours of study are outside the times that you have stated you will be available for work, and you are willing to re-arrange your writing up to take a job. If you are writing up on a part time basis you can also claim Housing Benefit (if you pay rent) and Council Tax Support (part time students are not exempt from Council Tax).
Most writing up students are registered as writing up on a full time basis. If you are writing up part time you will need to prove this. Your department or Research and Innovation Services should be able to provide a letter confirming this.
You can claim Working Tax Credit. Working Tax Credit is paid to top up low wages. Both part time and full time students are eligible to claim but very few full time students qualify. You can claim if you are over 25 and working at least 30 hours a week. If you have a child or a disability or are aged over 60, you can claim if you are working at least 16 or 24 hours a week. Working Tax Credit is means tested.
Although NHS healthcare is generally free for UK residents, there are fixed charges for items such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests. Students aged under 19 are exempt from these charges. Students aged 19 or over will have to pay unless they qualify for help on low income grounds or receive certain benefits or tax credits. To apply for help on low income grounds you need to complete a HC1 form. Forms are available from the Student Advice Centre. For more information on help with health costs click here.
Some student finance is taken into account in full. This includes maintenance grants and Adult Dependant Grant.
Some student finance is taken into account in part. This includes maintenance loans, NHS bursaries and postgraduate research council maintenance grants. If you are eligible to receive a maintenance loan but you do not apply for one, it will still be counted as income for benefits purposes.
Some student finance is disregarded in full. This includes tuition fee loans, Childcare Grant, Disabled Student's Allowance, Parent Learning Allowance and Special Support Grant.
Most student finance does not count as income for tax credits purposes. Two exceptions to this are Adult Dependant Grant (which is taken into account in full) and any part of a Professional and Career Development Loan which is paid for living costs.
Last Updated: January 2018