Students and Benefits
Full-time Students and Means-tested Benefits
Most full-time students cannot claim means-tested benefits either during term-time or during the summer vacation. These include Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Housing Benefit (HB)
You are treated as a full-time student until the day you complete, abandon or are dismissed from your course. In the final year of your course, you are still considered a student until the last day of the academic year even if you stop attending before this date.
There are some students who will have an underlying entitlement to benefits and tax credits throughout the academic year and/or over the summer vacation.
Student couple with Dependent Children
If you pay rent, you will be able to claim Housing Benefit throughout the year. Your student loan will be taken into account over the academic year so you may only be entitled to a limited amount of housing benefit. You should make sure that your entitlement is re-assessed for the summer vacation. This starts the last full benefit week in June.
One of you will also be able to claim JSA over the summer months as long as you meet the eligibility criteria, i.e you are actively seeking work. You can start a claim from the last full benefit week in June.
If you pay rent, you will be able to claim Housing Benefit throughout the year. You could also claim Income Support if you have a child under 5, however, most of your maintenance loan will be treated as income and you will probably be over the threshold, The maintenance loan is not taken into account over the summer vacation so you should ask to re-assessed for Income Support and Housing Benefit from the end of June. If your child is over 5 and you are in receipt of Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, you can claim JSA during the summer months as long as you are actively seeking work.
Students with Disabilities
In order to claim benefits as a full-time student with disabilities, you would need to be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you are in receipt of DLA or PIP you will be able to claim Housing Benefit and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance throughout the year. Your Maintenance Loan will be taken into account as income and this may reduce the amount of ESA and Housing Benefit that you are entitled to. Full-time students in receipt of DLA are exempt from the Work Capability Assessment.
During the summer vacation, your Maintenance Loan is not taken into account as income so you should ask to be re-assessed for ESA and Housing Benefit.
Income for benefit purposes:
The Childcare Allowance, Parents Learning Allowance and Special Support Grant are completely disregarded for benefits purposes.
Other student income will be treated as income when assessing your entitlement to means tested benefits. There is a disregard of £693 per year for travel, books and equipment and a further £10 a week is also disregarded. Your student income is calculated over 43 weeks for benefits purposes.
Child Tax Credit
You can claim Child Tax Credit if you are responsible for at least one child (or young person). You do not have to be working to make a claim and you can receive Child Tax Credits throughout the year. Taxable income is taken into consideration when assessing you for Child Tax Credits. As your student income is not taxable (except the Adult Dependants Grant), your entitlement should not be affected by your student status.
Working Tax Credit
Students who are responsible for a child or young person can claim Working Tax Credit if they are aged 16 or over and work at least 16 (or in some cases 24) hours a week.
Students without children can claim Working Tax Credit if:
- They are aged 25 or over and work at least 30 hours a week, or
- They are aged 16 or over and work at least 16 hours a week and have a disability, or
- They or their partner are aged 50 or more and work at least 16 hours a week and are returning to work after time spent on qualifying out-of-work benefits.
The rules surrounding eligibility to maternity benefits can be complicated and usually depend on the number of weeks that you have worked during a defined period. For in depth information about these benefits, please refer to the Money Advice Service website