Benefits for higher education students
Part-time students and certain groups of full-time students may sometimes be eligible for income-related benefits. 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 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 your local Jobs and Benefits office 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
Most full-time students can't claim income-related benefits but you may be able to make a claim if you:
- are a lone 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 or severe disability premium of 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 can apply for income related benefits if they’re on a low income and meet the certain conditions.
If you're studying part-time, you may be able to get Universal Credit as long as you can meet the work-related requirements that apply to you.
You cannot usually get Universal Credit if you’re studying full-time, but there are some exceptions. If you are in full-time training or are a full-time student, you can get Universal Credit if any of the following apply:
- you are part of a couple and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit
- you are part of a couple who is responsible for at least one child, and one (or both) of you is a student
- you are single and are responsible for a child
- you are over the qualifying age for Pension Credit (which is increasing in line with the increasing State Pension age) or, in joint claims where your partner is under that age
- you are 21 or under, in full-time ‘non-advanced education’ (for example, studying for A levels or a BTEC National Diploma), and you don’t have parental support (for example, you don’t have parents and you’re not under local-authority care)
- you are disabled, have been assessed as having Limited Capability for Work (LCW) or Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity, (LWRA) and receive:
- Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance or
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
Other income-related benefits
It is no longer possible to make a new claim to other income-related benefits such as Income Support, Local Housing Allowance or Housing Benefit. If you are already in receipt of any of these, you might be able to continue claiming them.
You can find out more by following the links below.
Student Loans and grants 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.
Student support counted as income
Types of student support counted as income are:
- the majority of any Student Loan for Maintenance Loan you are entitled to, even if you choose not to take it out
- Adult Dependants' Grant
- Access to Learning Fund payments meant to help with general living costs (though in some circumstances, all or part of the payment may be disregarded)
- Maintenance Grant (available to full-time students who started their course in September 2006 or later)
- Bursaries (available to full-time students who started their course in September 2006 or later) that are not for course-related costs, or childcare
- Higher Education Bursary
Student support not counted as income
The following will not count as income:
- Tuition Fee Grant (for full-time students whose courses began before September 2006)
- Student Loan for Tuition Fees
- Childcare Grant
- Parents' Learning Allowance
- Access to Learning Fund payments that are not for general living costs
- Special Support Grant (available to full-time students who started their course in September 2006 or later, and fall within the groups of students listed in the Income Support or Housing Benefit regulations)
- Bursaries (available to full-time students who started their course in September 2006 or later) that are for course-related costs, or childcare
If you get other forms of support, speak to your student adviser at university or college to find out whether they are counted as income when working out your entitlement to benefits.
If you’re studying full time, you may be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance during the summer holiday if:
- you're a lone parent
- 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 have sufficient National Insurance Contributions
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.
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
- you have sufficient National Insurance Contributions
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.
Employment and Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a source of support for people with an illness or disability that affects their ability to work. If you already claim ESA you may be able to carry on getting it as a student.
More about student finance
You can find out more about the help available through student finance, including grants, and (for full-time students) student loans and bursaries, by following the link below.