Benefits for higher education students with low incomes

Part-time students and certain groups of full-time students may sometimes be eligible for income-related benefits. These include Income Support and Housing 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 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 Social Security / 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

Full-time students

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

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

Income-related benefits

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

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance

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

Other support

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.

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:

  • 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 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.

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:  

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.

More useful links

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