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Benefits & Tax Credits

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 don't miss out on entitlement to welfare benefits, particularly if you are a full-time student who can 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.

Read our guide to benefits over the summer:  Full-time Students - Benefits and Tax Credits

We run a workshop with Student's Union Advice for single parents at certain times of the year.  Single Parent Workshop Presentation

Have a look at our guide to childcare available during your studies. ChildcareFactsheet

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.

Plus Icon Means-tested Benefits
Full-time Students

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:

  • Single parents
  • Student couples with dependent children
  • Students with disabilities
  • Students who have suspended their studies due to illness or caring duties
  • Partners of students, who are on a low income or unemployed

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.)

Read our Factsheet: Full-time Students, Benefits and Tax Credits

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
Maintenance Loan 

Counted after some disregards

Not counted
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
Leeds Beckett Hardship Funds 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
Part-time Students

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.

Plus Icon Housing Benefit

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.

Plus Icon Non-means-tested Benefits

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).

Benefits for Families
Employed or looking for work 
Expecting or Bringing up a Child

Plus Icon Disability Benefits

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 (C-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 (IR-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 for ESA because you receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Full-time students getting DLA or PIP are treated as having limited capability for work.

Because I-R ESA is means-tested and takes into account the student maintenance loan, so often an award is only made during the summer vacation when the student loan is not taken into account.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
PIP is a benefit for adults with disabilities who need help getting around and/or help with daily living activities.

Find out more about PIP at Personal Independence Payment

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
This is a benefit for people with disabilities who have care or mobility needs.  It is being replaced by PIP. New claims for DLA can only be made for children under 16.

Starting a course of study should not affect a student's entitlement to Disability Living Allowance, provided the student still fulfils the eligibility criteria.

DLA is ending and being replaced by PIP - find out how you could be affected:
DLA is ending - know the facts 
PIP Checker

Find out more about DLA at Disability Living Allowance

Plus Icon Tax Credits

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:

  • single, over 16, have a child and work at least 16 hours or more a week; or
  • if you're in a couple and have a child, your joint paid working hours need to be at least 24 a week, with one of you working at least 16 hours a week. There are some circumstances where you could get WTC where joint hours are fewer than 24 - see What hours do you need to work?
  • over 16, have a disability and work at least 16 hours or more a week; or
  • over 25, and work at least 30 hours a week; or
  • 50 or over, are coming off certain benefits and working over 16 hours a week.
  • 60 or over and work at least 16 hours a week. 

Phone the Tax Credit Information Line on 0345 300 3900 for information or a claim pack.


Plus Icon Health Benefits

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.

Leaflet: HC11

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