State benefits for part-time students
This information applies to students attending a part-time course.
It does not apply to students who usually study full-time but are taking fewer modules in a year, for example because they are repeating or retrieving modules. If this applies to you, please visit the benefit page for full-time students instead.
Please note that if you are in the UK on a student visa, or have any other type of limited leave to remain in the UK, do not claim any social security benefits without getting advice, as you could breach your immigration conditions and this could seriously affect your visa. Please contact Student Advice for further information.
The benefit system is changing and Universal Credit will eventually replace:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Some Social Fund payments.
The Government intends to transfer current claims over to Universal Credit where a change of circumstance occurs and to eventually transfer all current benefit claims over to Universal Credit.
The eligibility rules about who can claim Universal Credit while studying are still subject to change.
The following benefit information does not cover Universal Credit. If you receive or intend to claim this, contact Student Advice if you would like to discuss your circumstances.
The Government has also introduced a benefit cap. This only affects people receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. It limits the total amount of benefit a single person or couple with or without children can claim each week. For more information about the cap visit gov.uk and Citizens Advice.
Part-time study does not exclude a person from claiming any benefits but you have to meet the usual benefit eligibility rules. However, your claim could be affected if the benefit you receive requires you to meet job seeking activities e.g. Jobseeker’s Allowance, or be available for work and your study impacts on this. You will have to meet the usual benefit eligibility rules to qualify.
If you receive any benefits before you start your course, or you make a claim while attending your course, you must notify the benefit office about your part-time study as this is a change in your circumstances.
If you are receiving Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), you will need to notify the Jobcentre. They will check that you continue to meet the conditions of your Jobseeker's Agreement while you study, eg that you are available for and actively seeking work. If your study means you are not available for work, your JSA could be refused.
You’ll have to sign a Jobseeker’s Agreement, based on the Helping You Back to Work form that you complete when you first sign on. This agreement will determine whether you’re genuinely available for work. You’ll also need to fill in the Student Questionnaire form that asks if:
- you gave up a job or training to do the course
- you’re willing and able to take time off your course to attend job interviews
- you can be contacted easily during the course
- you can rearrange the time you attend the course to fit in with a job
- you are willing to give up the course if a job becomes available
You could also lose your benefit if the Jobcentre believes you are more committed to your course than finding work. Visit gov.uk for further information about Jobseekers Allowance.
Student Finance England undergraduate funding should not reduce your benefit entitlement. However the new Student Finance England Postgraduate Loan may. How this loan will affect benefits is currently under consideration and we will update this page when further information becomes available.
You must always declare any change in your income, including Student Finance England Funding, to the relevant benefit office.
If you are a part-time postgraduate student and you receive a Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL) or other study loan for your living costs, this can be counted as income and reduce your benefit entitlement.
Postgraduate Maintenance Grants awarded by a Research Council can also affect and reduce benefits.
However, if the PCDL or other loan is provided specifically to pay for course tuition fees only, this should not affect your benefits. Make sure the loan agreement specifies this.
If you are not working, you may be eligible for benefits to help meet your living costs. For example:
- If you are a single parent then depending on the age of your child, you may be eligible to claim Income Support or alternatively Job Seeker’s Allowance
- If you are ill or disabled and have limited ability to work, you may be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance and/or Personal Independence Payment
- If you care for an ill/disabled person, you could be eligible for claim Carers Allowance
- If you are of pensionable age, you could be eligible to claim Pension Credit.
If none of the above circumstances apply to you and you are looking for work, you may be eligible to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance instead. You may also be eligible to claim Housing Benefit to help with rent costs. This depends on your income.
You may eligible if your income is low because you claim other benefits or because you are in low paid work. Workers may also be eligible to claim Working Tax Credits to top-up their income. Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits are available if you have dependent children.
Visit gov.uk for more information about all the above benefits or contact Student Advice to discuss your options. Part-time students are not exempt from paying Council Tax. So, if you are liable to pay Council Tax contact your local Council to find out if you are eligible for any financial help meeting this cost. Each Council has its own Council Tax Support scheme so help will vary depending on your circumstances and where you live. Visit gov.uk for more details.