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Full time students and benefits

Find out more about full time students and benefits.

1. Who is a full time student for benefit purposes?

For Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, whether you are a full-time student depends on your age and the level of the course.

You are a full-time student if:
• You are not a "qualifying young person" for Child Benefit purposes
• You are not getting a training allowance
• You are not in 'relevant education'
and
• You are aged under 19 and on a full-time course of ‘advanced education
or
• You are aged 19 or over and on a full-time course of study at any level, unless you are aged under 20 and can still be treated as in relevant education.

You count as a student from the first day until the last day of the course or if you do not complete it, until the day you are dismissed from or abandon the course. This means that you count as a student even during holidays and when taking time out from studying, unless certain circumstances apply (see Time out from study within this guide)

Students with Partners

If you are a full-time student and you live with a partner who is not a student, they may be able to claim means-tested benefits for you both. Some of your student support may be taken into account.

2. Can full time students claim out of work benefits?

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

Even if you are unemployed and looking for work, you will not be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) if you are a full-time student.

The exception to this is;

  • If you are a lone parent
  • A member of a couple with a child where both of you are full-time students and you claim during your summer holidays.
  • If you are attending a DWP related course or scheme for a limited period (seek specialist advice in this case)

You may also be able to get JSA for a limited period after taking time out from study.

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

Income Support

Most full-time students are not entitled to Income Support. However, you may be entitled to this benefit as a full-time student if you are:

•  A lone parent with a child under five
•  A lone foster parent of a child under 16
•  Receiving long-term Incapacity Benefit
•  A refugee who is learning English to obtain employment
•  Under 21 or reached 21 whilst enrolled on or accepted on a full-time non-advanced course and you are without parental support

If you would qualify for Income Support if you were not a full-time student and you are a lone parent or a member of a couple with a child where both of you are full-time students, you can claim during your summer holidays.

If you receive student support in the form of a grant or loan, this will probably reduce the amount of Income Support you can get.

3. Can full time students get help with housing costs?

Housing Benefit

If you are a full-time student, you can get Housing Benefit if you meet one of the following examples of  conditions:

• you receive Income Support (IS) or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• you are a lone parent or a member of a couple who are responsible for a child and are both full-time students (this applies throughout the year not just during summer holidays)
• you are a lone foster carer with a child formally placed with you by a local authority or voluntary agency
• you receive Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance, the disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit or a War Pensioner’s Disability Supplement
• you or your partner are registered blind
• you have been unable to work due to sickness or disability for at least 28 weeks
• you qualify for a disabled student’s allowance because you are deaf
• you take time out from your course because of illness or caring responsibilities in certain circumstances (see Time out from study within this guide).
• you are under 21 on a non-advanced course -age can sometimes be extended to 22
• you are over Pension Credit age and neither you nor your partner are getting  Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance . If you qualify for guaranteed Pension Credit you will receive maximum entitlement to Housing Benefit.
 

If you are under Pension Credit age and receive student support, in the form of a grant or loan, this will usually reduce the amount of Housing Benefit you can get; unless you also get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance in which case you will automatically receive your maximum entitlement to Housing Benefit.



 

 

4. Can full time students claim disability benefits?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Contributory ESA

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

Income-related ESA

As a full time student you will only be able to claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance if you are also getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment. or Armed Forces Independence Payment


If you are a full time student who is getting DLA 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.

Work Capability Assessment

You are only entitled to ESA if you satisfy the Work Capability Assessment. If activities you do as part of your course suggests that you do not meet this test, you could lose this benefit. For example, if you are getting ESA because you said you have problems with walking and your course involves a lot of physical activity, this could cause your ESA claim to be reviewed.

Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance

You can get Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance even if you are a full-time student.

If you have disabilities, are aged under 65 and need help with your personal care or mobility needs, you can get Personal Independence Payment. If you need help with personal care and are aged 65 or over, you can get Attendance Allowance.

Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance are not means-tested. This means any income (including student grants or loans) or savings you have are ignored.

If activities you do as part of your course suggest that your health has improved, your Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance may stop. For example, if you are getting Personal Independence Payment because you said you have problems with walking and your course involves a lot of physical activity, this could cause your award to be reviewed.

Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance

You cannot make a new claim for Incapacity Benefit or Disability Living Allowance but if you are already claiming one of these benefits, you can continue to get them when you become a full-time student, as long as you still meet the criteria.

Please note, however, that if you are still getting Incapacity Benefit you will be reassessed at some point and may then be transferred to Employment and Support Allowance or have to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance where the rules for full time students are different. See our information guide on incapacity benefits reassessments for more details.

If you are still getting Disability Living Allowance you will be reassessed for Personal Independence Payment, the timetable can be found on our Benefit Changes guide - October 2015.

If activities you do as part of your course suggest that your health has improved, you could lose your benefit. For example, if you are getting Incapacity Benefit because you said you have problems with walking and your course involves a lot of physical activity, this could cause your Incapacity Benefit claim to be reviewed.

5. Full time students and other benefits

Carer’s Allowance

You cannot get Carer’s Allowance if you are in full-time education, even during holidays. For Carer’s Allowance, full time usually means a course at any level that the school, college or university says is full time.

Child Benefit

If you are responsible for a child, as a full time student you can still claim Child Benefit.

Pension Credit

If you are a full-time student who is over Pension Credit age and you have a low income, you may be able to get Pension Credit.

If you get Pension Credit (Guarantee credit) you will automatically receive your maximum entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.

Tax Credits

You can get Tax Credits even if you are a full-time student.

If you or your partner are working and have a fairly low income, you may get Working Tax Credit; however, in some case you need to be aged 25 or over. How many hours you need to work will depend on your circumstances,

If you are responsible for children as a lone parent or as a member of a couple, you may get Child Tax Credit.

See the Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit information guides for full details about who can claim.

Most student support income is ignored but some additional payments may count as income.

6. Benefits during time out from study

If you are a full-time student, whether you can get benefits during time out from study depends on the reason for taking time out and the benefit concerned.

You can continue to get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance during your time out from study, if you are a student who can get these benefits while studying.

Illness or caring responsibilities

If you are a full-time student and you need to take time out, for example due to illness or because you need to care for someone temporarily, you still count as a full-time student. You will therefore only qualify for the benefits you could get while studying.

If you aren't eligible for a student grant or loan, you may be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support for up to a year once your illness or caring responsibilities have come to an end. This is while you are waiting to re-join the course (for example, until the start of the next academic term).

You may be treated as having student support income, such as student loans or grants during this period. See student support

Pregnancy

If you are a full-time student and you take time out from your studies because you are pregnant, you will not be able to get most means-tested benefits, unless you are a student who can qualify for these benefits while studying.

Once the baby is born, you may then be able to get
•    Income Support if you are a lone parent
•    Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support (if you are a lone parent or a member of a couple who are responsible for a child and are both full-time students)
•    Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay if you have been working.

Other reasons

If you are a full-time student and are taking time out from your studies for other reasons, such as to re-sit exams, you will still be treated as a full-time student and will not be able to claim means tested benefits, unless you are a student who can get these benefits while studying.

7. Further Information

Students and benefits is a complex area therefore advice should always be sought from an experienced specialist adviser or student service.

You can seek advice in your local area by using our Find an Adviser tool and you can also obtain assistance from the organisations listed below.

Student Advice Services/ Welfare Office at Colleges/Universities

Most universities and colleges will have a student advice/welfare service.  The university offices normally provide advice on a range of issues including housing, benefits and student financial support.  Students may also be able to access 'Hardship Payments' through student support offices. Services offered by colleges maybe more limited.

Disabled Students Helpline

Disability Rights UK run a free specialist helpline to advise and support disabled people aged over 16 in England, who are studying or wish to study full-time or part-time. 
Tel: 0800 328 5050 (Tues 11.30 – 13.30 and Thurs, 13.30 – 15.30)Email:students@disabilityrightsuk.org .

General information is also provided to disabled students in Scotland and Wales.
Scotland Tel: 0131 228 9441 or 0800 999 2568                                            

GOV.UK website - Student Finance

Detailed information on financial support for students can be accessed from the GOV.UK site.

National Union Students(NUS)

Comprehensive range of student information provided including an advice section on website. Visit the NUS website for information 

National Apprenticeship Helpline

The helpline provides  guidance on accessing apprenticeships and related issues. You can obtain further information from the GOV.UK site.
Tel: 0800 015 0400 or 0247 682 6482 
Email: nationalhelpdesk@apprenticeships.gov.uk