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Full time students and benefits - Can full-time students get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

Find out more about the definition of a full-time student for benefit purposes and whether you can claim any benefits or tax credits

Can full-time students get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If you are not able to work due to illness or disability, you may be entitled to contributory ESA while you are a full-time student if you have previously worked and paid national insurance contributions.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

It is no longer possible to make new claims for income-related ESA. Income-related ESA has been replaced for new claimants by Universal Credit.

If you are getting income-related ESA and you are also getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP), you will be able to continue getting income-related ESA once you start studying.

If you are a full time student who is getting DLA, PIP or AFIP, you count as having limited capability for work without having to have a Work Capability Assessment.

If you receive student support in the form of a grant or a loan, this will probably reduce the amount of income-related ESA you can get.

Reviewed: November 2021

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