Universal Credit and other benefits

Page last updated:
10 Nov 2021

You may be eligible for Universal Credit or other benefits while you study.

On this page you'll find information about what you might be eligible for and how to apply.

Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) is a monthly payment to help with living and housing costs if you are on a low income, whether in or out of work. Part-time students can claim it, but you may need to be seeking work, unless you have ‘limited capability for work’. You can’t usually get it as a full-time student unless you are an exception, for example, you have a child or you have a disability which means you get PIP or DLA and you have limited capability for work.

For a full list of exceptions visit Gov.UK.

The Maintenance Loan is counted, but the ‘special support’ element of the loan is ignored. The Adult Dependants’ Grant is counted in full. All other student income is ignored.

Your Maintenance Loan is ignored in UC months (assessment periods) that include the start of the summer holiday, and other summer months except the UC month in which your course restarts.

So, if your UC month starts on 20 April and your summer vacation starts on 16 May and ends on 15 September, your student income is ignored from 20 April until 19 August (four UC months). In this case, the April–May assessment did include some holiday period so would have disregarded the student income, but the August–September assessment included the start of the new term so would have that student income included.

If you or your partner have earnings or other income, these are also taken into account.

If you are still getting legacy benefits and don’t need to make a new claim, then do not make a claim for Universal Credit without seeking advice first.
You will need to apply online for UC; follow the link below.

Use the Entitled to calculator to work out how much you could get.

Include your Maintenance Loan under ‘other income’ but take away the ‘special support element’ first, divide the rest by the number of months that don’t include the summer holiday (usually eight) and then take away another £110.

£10,815 - £4,014 ÷ 8 - £110 = £740.13

Don’t forget to add in any earnings you or your partner make.

If you need help with this, please call our Money Advice Line.

You get paid monthly into your bank account. The payment is for living costs and rent. You need to make sure you pay the rent yourself unless you make arrangements for housing costs to be paid by UC to your landlord.

The date you first claim is known as the first day of your ‘assessment period’. You get your first payment five weeks after your claim date and then each month after that.

If the five-week wait is a problem, you can ask for an ‘advance payment’.

No, not during term time if you are a full-time student and you get a Maintenance Loan, but you may have to look for work over the summer, depending on your circumstances. Part-time students may need to meet some ‘work-related requirements’ throughout the year.

See the information at Universal Credit Info for more details.

Make an appointment with a student money adviser to get a benefit check by phoning our advice line on 0113 812 5593 between 10:00 and 12:00 Monday to Thursday.

You can also get help in Leeds from:

Legacy benefits

What are legacy benefits?

Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Legacy benefits are being replaced by Universal Credit. You can’t make a new claim for a legacy benefit unless you get severe disability premium or are in temporary, emergency, supported or sheltered housing, or you have paid enough National Insurance.
If you are still getting a legacy benefit like Housing Benefit or Tax Credits, it could make sense to stay on them while you can. Students are usually better off on legacy benefits, especially if you get Tax Credits, because these aren’t affected by student income. But that is not always the case so get advice. Call our Money Advice Line.

Contributory benefits

What are contributory benefits?

They are benefits which can replace earnings if you have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions.

If you have paid enough National Insurance contributions then it is still possible to be able to claim New-style Jobseekers’ Allowance or New-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), instead of or as well as Universal Credit.

How much contributory benefit you get is not affected by your study or student income, but you still need to meet the rules. To get Jobseekers’ Allowance you need to be available for and seeking work. To get ESA you need to have limited capability for work because of an illness or disability.

Disability benefits

If you have a disability which means you need help getting around or with daily living costs you may be entitled to a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Find out about eligibility and apply for PIP.

Studying full- or part-time does not affect your entitlement to PIP.

PIP has replaced Disability Living Allowance.

Maternity benefits

If you are expecting a baby then you could be entitled to benefits before and after your baby is born.

If you are a full-time student, you will usually need to wait until your baby is born before you can get welfare benefits. Then you could be entitled to Child Benefit, Universal Credit or Sure Start Maternity Grant.

You need to claim Universal Credit once your baby is born. You can claim the Sure Start Maternity Grant if this is your first baby, which you can claim up to 11 weeks prior to the due date and within six months of your baby’s birth.

If you have been working then there are some maternity benefits you could also be entitled to before your baby is born, like Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

If you are getting Child Tax Credits because you already have a child, then do not claim Universal Credit without getting advice first. Students are usually, but not always, better off with Tax Credits, because they are not reduced by student income.

Find out more at Benefits for Families or give us a call.

Health benefits

What are Health Benefits?

Even though the NHS is mostly free, some things we still have to pay for, like prescriptions and dental treatment.

But if you are under 19 and studying full-time you can still get free prescriptions or dental treatment.

If you are over 19 but living on a low income you could get help towards the costs.

These are called 'health benefits'.

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 form from your doctor, dentist or optician. You can also order an HC1 form by contacting the Health Cost Advice Line on 0845 850 1166.

You can ask for an HC1 form at our Student Hub in the Rose Bowl.

See the Information Leaflet on HC11 for more details.

When you fill in the form, don’t forget to include the cost of your accommodation if you live away from home and pay rent.

Contact money advice

We offer advice about student funding, benefits, budgeting and debt, over the phone and at appointments. We run a Money Advice Line on 0113 812 5593. It is open Monday to Thursday between 10:00 and 12:00.

Looking for something else?

There's lots of helpful advice and guidance on our student information pages. Try searching if you know what you're looking for or if you're not sure where to go, you can browse our A-Z.