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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Students and Council Tax

If you live in university halls, or in a house where everyone is classed as a full-time student for Council Tax purposes, you’ll be exempt from paying Council Tax. The rules are different if you live with someone who’s not a full-time student – but your household could still get a discount.

If you live only with other full-time students: exemption from Council Tax

A place occupied only by full-time students is exempt from Council Tax. So if you live in university halls - or a house where everyone is a full-time student - you shouldn’t get a bill.

If you think you should be exempt but are still getting a bill, follow the link below to find out how to apply to your local council for an exemption.

Who counts as a full-time student for Council Tax purposes?

You’ll usually be considered a full-time student for Council Tax purposes if:

  • you are enrolled to attend a course of education lasting for at least one academic or calendar year - and which you are normally required to attend for at least 24 weeks out of the year and study for at least 21 hours per week during term time


  • you’re under 20 and your course leads to a qualification up to (but not above) A level standard or equivalent - as long as it lasts for more than three months and involves more than 12 hours of study per week

If you’re unsure, check with your local council.

If you live with someone who’s not a full-time student

If you’re a full-time student and you live with someone who’s not a full-time student, in most cases your household will get a Council Tax bill. But depending who else lives with you, your household might be able to get a discount (or in some cases an exemption).

How your household’s Council Tax bill is worked out

Council Tax is charged per ‘dwelling’ or household, and each household gets a single Council Tax bill.

How much your household pays depends on:

  • the banding of the property and the amount your local authority chooses to set for it
  • how many adults are ‘counted’ for Council Tax purposes

Who else is not ‘counted’ for Council Tax purposes?

As well as full-time students, some other groups are not ‘counted’ for Council Tax purposes. These include people who are:

  • doing a course which leads to a first registration as a nurse or midwife
  • doing an Apprenticeship which leads to a qualification recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency - provided they don’t earn over a certain amount (currently £195 per week)
  • under 25 and in a recognised form of full-time training funded by either the Skills Funding Agency or the Young People's Learning Agency

Council Tax discounts: how much could your household get?

If there is one person in your household who is ‘counted’ for Council Tax purposes, your household will get 25 per cent off the full Council Tax bill.

If no-one in your household is ‘counted’ for Council Tax purposes, your household will get 50 per cent off the full bill (unless everyone is a full-time student, in which case the household will get a 100 per cent exemption).

This is because Council Tax is a property tax with a personal tax element. A full Council Tax bill assumes that there are at least two adults living in a property. If there is no-one who is counted, the personal element is reduced completely.

Your household may also qualify for other forms of financial help on top of the Council Tax discount through the benefit system.

Who is responsible for paying the bill?

While households can decide among themselves who contributes what, the law sets out who is actually responsible for paying the bill.

Members of a household are divided into categories - owner-occupier, tenant and so on - and for most households the person responsible is the one who appears nearest the top of the list which you can find in ‘Council Tax - who pays and how much’.

If there are two or more household members who fall into the same category, they’re usually jointly responsible for paying the whole bill.

But the rules are different if you’re considered a full-time student or not ‘counted’ because you’re in education or training. In these circumstances, you can only be held responsible if you - and only you - are in a category that’s higher up the list than all other members of your household (for example, you’re an owner-occupier and everyone else is a tenant).

Applying for a student discount

To get a student discount on your household’s Council Tax, you’ll normally need an official letter from your college or university giving details about you and your course.

Follow the link below to find out what your local council needs to process your application - and how to apply for a discount.

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