Full-time study can have a significant impact on entitlement to some welfare benefits. Part-time study will not usually affect welfare benefits except in a few limited circumstances.
Make sure you do not miss out on entitlement to welfare benefits, particularly if you are in one of the groups who can still claim means-tested benefits, for example, single parents, student couples with children, students with a disability. Speak to Student Money Adviser for guidance about your benefit entitlement.
Below is a summary of how the different types of benefit or tax credit are affected by study with links to information about entitlement to the range of benefits available.
Most full-time students are not eligible for means-tested benefits either during term-time or during the summer vacation.
However, some students may be entitled, for example:
If you fit into one of the above categories you may be entitled to claim Income Support, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit* and/or Jobseekers' Allowance, either throughout the year or during the summer vacation. (*Full-time students are exempt from Council Tax, but partners who are liable may be able to claim Council Tax Benefit.)
If you are not sure about your entitlement to means-tested benefits contact Student Money Advice
Student Income and means-tested benefits
In your first year student income is taken into account for means-tested benefits from the beginning of your course until the end of June. In following years it is taken into account from the beginning of September until the end of June. In your final year it is taken into account from the beginning of September until the last day of your course.
An allowance for books, equipment and travel, in total £693 is disregarded from the student loan, and then a further £10 per week is disregarded.
Website: Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
When you claim means-tested benefits, some of your student support is taken into account. Income for your student loan for living costs is counted by the DWP, whether or not you borrow your full entitlement.
The table below shows which grants and loans are taken into account as income by the DWP.
|Income Type||Means-tested Benefits||Tax Credits|
|Fee Grant||Not counted||Not counted|
|Fee Loan||Not counted||Not counted|
Counted after some disregards
|Special Support Grant||Not counted||Not counted|
|Adult Dependants' Grant||Counted in full||Counted in full|
|Childcare Grant||Not counted||Not counted|
|Parents' Learning Allowance||Not counted||Not counted|
|Disabled Students Allowance||Not counted||Not counted|
|NHS Bursary||Counted in full||Not counted|
|Social Work Bursary||Living cost element counted||Not counted|
|Access to Learning Fund||Lump sum or course costs not counted||Not counted|
|Part-time fee loan/grant||Not counted||Not counted|
|Professional and Career Development Loan||Living cost element counted||Living cost element counted|
Studying part-time should not affect your entitlement to welfare benefits. However, if you are claiming Jobseekers' Allowance you will still need to be available for and actively seeking work. You may also be asked to complete a 'Student Questionnaire', which is a series of questions designed to test your eligibility for benefits.
Part-time students and some full-time students, for example single parents or students with a disability, could claim Housing Benefit if they are liable to pay rent and have a low income.
Some student income is taken into account when calculating Housing Benefit. (See table in 'Means-tested benefits' section above.)
The amount of benefit that is paid is also limited by the Local Housing Allowance.
The Local Housing Allowance is determined by the area that you live in and the number of bedrooms that you are considered to need.
Non-means tested benefits are not affected by student income, and for the most part are not affected by study, however full-time students may need to fulfil additional rules for some non-means tested or contributory benefits.
Non-means tested benefits can include benefits for people with children, contributory benefits for those seeking work or unable to work. It also includes disability benefits (see section below).
There are benefits you may be entitled to as a result of illness or disability.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit for people who have limited capability for work because of illness or disability. There are two types of ESA:
1.Contributory ESA is not means tested. You need to have paid enough National Insurance contributions, or qualify for ESA in Youth. It is paid after 28 weeks of limited capability for work.
It is possible that starting full or part-time study could prompt a review of a student's limited capability for work.
2. Income-related ESA is means tested. You could be eligible if you are a part-time student and have limited capability for work.
If you are a full-time student you could be eligible if you receive Disability Living Allowance. Because I-R ESA is means-tested and takes into account the student maintenance loan, it may be that an award is only made during the summer vacation when income from the student loan is not taken into account.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
This is a benefit for people with disabilities who have care or mobility needs.
Starting a course of study should not affect a student's entitlement to Disability Living Allowance, provided the student still fulfils the eligibility criteria.
Child Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit is a payment to support families with children and is paid in addition to Child Benefit. You can claim Child Tax Credit if you are responsible for children up to 16 (19 if the child is in full-time education). You do not have to be working to claim.
Working Tax Credit
Working Tax Credit is a payment to top up the earnings of working people on low incomes, including those who do not have children. It also provides extra support for disabled people in work.
To be eligible for Working Tax Credit you must meet the residency conditions, and be:
Phone the Tax Credit Information Line on 0345 300 3900 for information or a claim pack.
If you are under 19 and studying full-time you can still get free health benefits, e.g. prescriptions and dental treatment.
Almost all other students will have to apply on Claim Form HC1 for help to reduce the cost of NHS charges on the basis of low income.
You can get an HC1 from your doctor, dentist or optician. You can also order an HC1 form by contacting the Health Cost advice line on 0845 850 1166.
See the information leaflet HC11 for more details.