What benefits can students claim?


Welfare benefits entitlement for students is a very complex area, however hopefully this guide will indicate what you may be entitled to.

The main benefits are Universal Credit, contributory benefits and PIP (and Pension Credit if you are over pension age). Students can also claim Tax Credits from the legacy system, however these have been replaced by Universal Credit for new claimants, so you are only entitled if you are already claiming them, likewise with JSA and Income Support.

Universal credit if:

  • You are under 21, doing a course that will lead to a qualification at the same level as or below A levels (such as Scottish Highers, NVQ up to level 3), and do not and cannot live with your parents; or
  • You are responsible for a child; or
  • You get Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and you have limited capability for work. (This can be complicated – find an adviser); or
  • You are over Pension Credit age; or
  • You live with a partner who can claim Universal Credit; or
  • You have taken time out from your course for illness or caring responsibilities, are now recovered/your caring responsibilities have ended, and you are waiting to go back to your course.

JSA if:

  • 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 Department for Work and Pensions (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.

Income Support if:

  • 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.

Contributory ESA if:

  • 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.

Housing Benefit if:

  • 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.

PIP or Attendance Allowance:

  • Under most circumstances


  • Students usually do not have to pay council tax
  • You can get child benefit if you have a kid
  • Pension Credit if you are eligible


Financial help may also be available to you from some of the charities listed on our Grants Search tool. Grants and bursaries may be available to help with:

  • Additional educational costs, such as equipment, books, tools for apprenticeships, electives
  • Students studying particular subjects – in particular, vocational subjects such as medicine, nursing or engineering
  • Students with disabilities
  • Students who have experienced an adverse life event while studying, such as illness or bereavement.