Welfare benefits are provided by the government to help support people who are on a low income or for those that are unemployed or unable to work, with expenses such as housing, food, and childcare.
The eligibility rules for full-time students are complicated and an enquiry at the Jobcentre will often result in the answer that "full time students can't get benefits". However, it is worth double-checking, as there are limited situations in which full-time students can, in fact, claim benefits.
As a rule of thumb, you may be entitled to benefits as a full-time student if you are:
· A lone parent (benefits differ depending on the age of your youngest child);
· In receipt of any award of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Again, benefits available differ according to what rate you receive;
· In receipt of Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) for deafness;
· Part of a couple, both of whom are full-time students, and have care of a child under 16 (or under 19 in full-time education).
If you think that you might be entitled to benefits and would like to discuss this further, we will be able to go through potential entitlement with you, and help you decide if claiming benefits is an option for you.
Students who start their course on a part-time basis have the same access to benefits as non-students, but a change in circumstances can still affect your benefits, for example, if your income changes or you change your hours at work to fit with your studies.
If you are studying part-time and would like information about whether you are entitled to benefits, or if you are considering starting a part-time course and want to check whether, or how, your benefits may change, the Advice Hub can help you work this out.
If you want to apply for Jobseekers' Allowance over the summer as a lone parent or as part of a student couple with children, and you get told you're not able to because you're a full-time student, download the handy letter (at the bottom of this page) and take it to the Jobcentre, and you should be able to claim! You can claim up to three months in advance.
For a brief description of the different kind of benefits, take a look at our Quick Guide to Benefits below.
Quick Guide – Benefits
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
ESA is a benefit for people who are assessed as having limited capability for work because of their health or disability. There are two types of ESA: income- based and contributions-based
- As a part-time student (part-time on point of entry to course), if you have limited capability to work you may be able to claim income-related ESA or contributions-based ESA depending on your circumstances.
- Only full-time students in receipt of DLA or PIP (see below) can claim ESA or, in some circumstances, if you have made sufficient national insurance contributions in the previous tax year.
Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance (PIP/DLA)
DLA is a benefit paid to disabled people who have mobility difficulties or personal care needs.
- DLA is not means tested, so full and part-time students are eligible to apply.
- Students currently in receipt of DLA are expected to be transferred to PIP by the end of 2017.
- You cannot make a new application for DLA. If you have not received it previously, you should apply for PIP.
PIP is a new benefit which replaces DLA for people of working age. It is for people who need help with daily living or have mobility issues.
- PIP is non means tested, so full and part-time students are eligible to apply.
Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
JSA provides financial support to people of working age who are not working over 16 hours and are looking for work.
- Part-time students can claim if they are available for work.
- Full-time students cannot normally claim.
- Student parents (where you are both students) or Lone parents can claim in the summer vacation (LP with a child under 5 may be able to claim Income Support – see below).
Carers Allowance (CA)
Carer’s Allowance is to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs. You must spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them.
- Part-time students are eligible to apply for Carer’s Allowance.
- Full-time students cannot claim Carer’s Allowance .
Housing Benefit (HB)
HB is for help with your rent and is administered by your local authority. HB is means tested, so the amount you would get depends on your grant, loan, or other income. There are limits to the rent covered by HB – these are determined by the local housing allowance.
- Part-time students are eligible to claim HB.
- Most full-time students are not eligible to claim HB. Exceptions to this are students on Income Support, income-related JSA, income-related ESA, or if you are a lone parent, a student couple with a child, disabled or over the qualifying age for pension credit.
- You must also meet the basic rules of entitlement – speak to an advisor for more details.
Child Benefit (CB)
Child Benefit is a Universal Benefit for anyone who is responsible for a child or qualifying young person.
- Full-time and part-time students can claim.
Child Tax Credits (CTC)
Child Tax Credit is aid to families with children, but the amount you get depends on your income.
- Both full and part-time students are eligible to apply.
- You can claim this through HMRC
Income Support (IS)
Provides support for those students who are not expected to ‘sign on’ as available for work (see JSA). The amount you get is affected by student loans, bursaries and other income.
- Part-time students are eligible to claim IS if they are a lone parent, a carer, pregnant (and sick or nearly due) and in some other special circumstances.
- Most other full-time students are not eligible to claim IS, however, you are eligible to claim IS in the summer vacation if you are a lone parent with a child under 5.
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