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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Benefits for higher education students with low incomes

Part-time students on a low income and certain groups of full-time students may be eligible for benefits. These include Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Find out what you could get.

Benefits and financial support for students

Benefits for students depend on your personal circumstances such as your income and any savings you may have. You may not be able to get benefits if the income you get through student finance is too high.

Where to go for advice

If you’re already claiming income-related benefits and want to start a higher education course, you should ask Jobcentre Plus or your local authority's Housing Benefit section how this will affect your benefits.

If you’re currently at university or college, a student adviser will be able to help you work out if you qualify for any benefits.

Who can claim benefits?

Full-time students

Most full-time students can’t claim income-related benefits but you may be able to claim if you:

  • are a single parent
  • have a partner who is also a student - and one or both of you are responsible for a child
  • have a disability, and qualify for the disability premium, severe disability premium or income-related Employment and Support Allowance

If you have a partner who is not a student and they’re eligible for any income-related benefits, your partner can claim on behalf of you both.

Part-time students

Part-time students can apply for income-related benefits if they’re on a low income and meet the certain conditions.

Which income-related benefits can you get?

Income-related benefits you may be able to claim are:

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance
  • Council Tax Benefit

You can find out more by following the links below.

Which student loans and grants are counted as income?

When working out if you’re eligible for income-related benefits while you are a student, certain types of student finance will be counted as income.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Full-time students

If you’re studying full time, you may be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance during the summer holiday if one of the following apply:

  • you're a single parent who is responsible for a child or young person
  • you have a partner who is also a full-time student, and one or both of you is responsible for a child or young person

You also need to be available for and actively seeking work.

You may also be able to claim if you’re waiting to go back to a course, having taken approved time out for a period of up to one year because of an illness or caring responsibility that has now come to an end.

Part-time students

If you’re studying part time, you may be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance if you are:

  • out of work or working less than 16 hours a week on average
  • capable of working
  • available for work
  • actively seeking work
  • below retirement age

Normally, you must also be aged 18 or over. You must be willing to go to a job interview, even if you have to take time off from your course. You should also be prepared to rearrange your hours of study to fit around a job.

Incapacity Benefit and contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance

Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are sources of support for people with an illness or disability that affects their ability to work. If you already claim one of these benefits, you may be able to carry on getting it as a student.

See ‘Financial help for disabled students’ for more information. You can also get advice from the Disability Officer or Student Services Officer at your college or university.

Other help

Working Tax Credit

If you're working as well as being either a full-time or part-time student, you may be able to get Working Tax Credit.

If you receive the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit, you won’t be able to claim the Childcare Grant as well.

Child Tax Credit

You may be able to claim Child Tax Credit if you are a student and are responsible for a child. Higher rates are available if:

  • you have more than one child
  • your child is disabled

Council tax and full-time students

Full-time students may be exempt from paying Council Tax, or eligible for a reduction in their Council Tax bill. Find out how to claim from your local authority, then ask your college or university to supply proof of your full-time student status.

More about student finance

You can find out more about the help available through student finance - including grants, student loans and bursaries - by following the link below.

Additional links

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