This is a summary of the funding and money options available to students with dependent children.
This information is not relevant to you if you are in the UK on a student visa or on a dependent visa. Please contact us for advice if you have any other limited leave to remain in the UK.
If you are unsure of your entitlement, please get in touch with Student Advice.
Additional student finance grants
The following information applies to full-time undergraduate home students, including module retrievers, who meet the eligibility rules to receive Student Finance England (SFE) Loans and grants.
SFE do not provide any additional grants for children for Postgraduate study, part–time undergraduate study or, EU nationals eligible for the EU Tuition Fee Loan only.
SFE only provide additional grants for dependent children to full-time Undergraduate students. They are paid on top of any other SFE loans or grants you receive.
Visit one of the following for information if your home is in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland or you already receive funding from one of them:
The following grants do not need to be repaid. You’ll not have to pay them back providing they are correctly assessed and you are not overpaid.
If you’re a single parent and you began your course before September 2016, you should ensure that you receive the Special Support Grant instead of the Maintenance Grant.
Although the grant figures are the same, the Maintenance Grant reduces your Maintenance Loan entitlement and reduces the amount of any income-assessed state benefits payable to you, while the Special Support Grant does not. If you live with a partner, you will not be eligible for the Special Support Grant. If you start your course in September 2016 or later, neither grant is available to you. Instead, you are eligible for a higher rate of Maintenance Loan, which includes a Special Support Element. If you are in receipt of income assessed state benefits, the Special Support Element should be ignored when calculating your entitlement.
There are three other additional SFE grants available to student parents. These are income assessed, so your eligibility depends on your household income.
For 2020–21, the grants available include:
- Parent’s Learning Allowance of up to £1,766 per year
- Childcare Grant that pays up to 85 per cent of the cost of Ofsted-registered or Ofsted-approved childcare, up to a maximum of £174.22 per week for one child or £298.69 for two or more children - you cannot get this grant and the childcare element of Working Tax Credits at the same time. If you (or your partner) are eligible for both, you will need to choose which grant to claim/continue to claim. TIP: SFE can ask for evidence of childcare payment so it very important to always keep official receipts for each payments If paying by direct debit make sure these are clearly stated on your bank statement.
- Adult Dependants Grant of up to £3,094 – for an adult who is dependent on you financially – for example a partner on little or no income.
The Living Expenses Support Scheme (LESS)
Some full-time and part-time students can apply to the living expenses support scheme (LESS) to be considered for an additional grant. You must be assessed as a home student.
State Benefits and Tax Credits
Some students with children may be able to claim state benefits while they study eg Universal Credit, Housing Benefit. For information about who can claim, please visit our state benefits page.
Universal Credit replaces a number of state benefits and tax credits. If you are making a new claim for Universal Credit please contact Student Advice for information about your entitlement as a student.
If you’re responsible for a child, you may be able to claim Child Benefit if any of the following apply:
- The child is under 16 or,
- over 16 and in relevant education or training or,
- aged 16 or 17, has left relevant education or training and is registered for work, education or training with an approved body
- or aged 16-20 and in full-time non-advanced education or training before they were 19
For information about this benefit and the weekly amounts available visit Gov.uk.
You cannot make a new claim for Tax Credits unless you receive the Severe Disability Premium, you will need to apply for Universal Credit instead. If you already receive Tax Credits you will continue to receive these unless there is a change in your circumstances that triggers a new claim or your current claim is being migrated to Universal Credit.
For details of who qualifies for Tax Credits and the rates payable, visit Gov.uk
Paying for Childcare
The Student Finance England Childcare Grant
This is only available to full-time undergraduate students who meet the SFE eligibility rules. Household income is also used to assess entitlement so if you live with a partner, their income will affect the amount paid. It can pay up to 85 per cent of approved childcare, up to a maximum of £174.22 per week for one child or £298.69 for two or more children - see the SFE website. This grant is more generous than Working Tax Credits which pays a maximum of 70 per cent.
You cannot get this grant and the childcare element of Working Tax Credits or childcare costs paid by Universal Credit at the same time. If you (or your partner) are eligible for both, you must choose which grant to claim/continue to claim. Claiming both will result in an overpayment that you will have to repay.
Tax Credits Childcare Element
Working Tax Credit (childcare Element) and Child Tax Credit have been replaced by Universal Credit for most people.
You can only make a new claim for Tax Credits if you are eligible for the severe disability premium.
If you already receive Tax Credits you will continue to receive these unless there is a change in your circumstances that triggers a new claim or your current claim is being migrated to Universal Credit.
If you do not qualify for the Student Finance Childcare grant (see above) or tax credits and you need help with childcare costs you may be able to apply for Universal Credit. The rules surrounding this benefit can be complex, please seek advice to see if you are able to claim.
Help from your employer
If you’re currently working, check if your employer offers any help. You may be eligible for childcare vouchers. Visit Gov.uk for information
The government provides free early learning for three and four year olds in England at a registered childcare provider for 38 weeks of the year. For further information, visit Gov.uk.
Expecting a baby
If you are a full-time undergraduate student, your eligibility for the extra grants and/or Maintenance Loan from Student Finance England and, in most cases, any eligibility for state benefits or Child Tax Credit will begin once your baby is born. To support your claims, you will need to prove you have become a parent, eg by providing your baby’s birth certificate, and subsequently proof of the Child Benefit you receive.
While pregnant, you are eligible to receive free health benefits, such as free NHS prescriptions and dental care. You can claim these by completing a maternity exemption certificate application form, available from your doctor, midwife or health visitor.
If you have no other children in your family, you may also be eligible for the healthy start scheme, which provides you with free vitamins as well vouchers for certain types of food. To check who qualifies, have a look at the NHS information.
You may also be eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500 if you receive one of the following: Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit (at a rate higher than the family element), or Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award. Visit Gov.uk for details.
If you are working you may be entitled to Contractual Maternity Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay from your Employer. If you don’t qualify for these you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance. Visit Gov.uk for more information.
Once you become a parent you may also become eligible to claim social security benefits. It depends on your circumstances and whether you are a single parent or part of a couple. For information about this visit our State benefits pages.
Contact Student Advice if you would like to talk over your options.