Part time students and benefits - Who is a part-time student for benefit purposes?

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

Last reviewed 28 March 2024

Who is a part-time student for benefit purposes?

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

You are a part-time student if you are studying but you:

  • Are not in and
  • Are not attending a full-time course.

If you started a full-time course and reduced your hours of attendance, you might still be treated as a full-time student rather than a part-time one.

You count as a student from the first day until the last day of the course or if you do not complete the course, until the day you are dismissed from or abandon it. 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).

For Universal Credit, you will be treated as a part time student if you are studying but

  • You are not in , and
  • You are not attending a full time course, and
  • Your course does not stop you from doing your work related requirements.

You can still be entitled to most benefits while you are doing a part-time course.

The benefits which may be affected by being a part-time student are:

Students with Partners

If you are a part-time student and you live with a partner who is not a student, and either of you is getting legacy benefits for both of you, it may be possible for the benefit to continue being paid. If you claim Universal Credit you will both have to agree to a claimant commitment, and if your course means you cannot do all your work-related requirements your partner might get a reduced amount of Universal Credit. Some of your student support may be taken into account.


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