It’s possible to divide welfare benefits into two categories:
- Means-tested benefits
- Non-means tested benefits
Being a student does not in itself affect entitlement to some non means-tested benefits such as Incapacity Benefit, Retirement Pension, Disability Living Allowance, Child Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Widows Benefit. For further information, please contact the Student Adviser.
In General, most full-time undergraduate students are unable to claim means-tested benefits such as Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit for the duration of their course, including vacations. But there are exceptions to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Lone parents: If you are a lone parent of a child under 5
- Students with disabilities (If you qualify for a disability premium or severe disability premium, if you have been incapable of work for 28 weeks or if you get DSA because of deafness)
- Couples who are both full-time students with dependant children
- Students of pension age
If you are eligible under one of these qualifying categories you may be able to claim Child Tax Credits, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, although entitlement may change during the academic year. Working Tax Credit may also be available to a student (or partner) with dependant children if in paid work for at least 16 hours a week. Couples with dependent children have to be in paid work of 16 hours each totalling a minimum of 24 hours per week.
Please note that if you are eligible for means-tested benefits, the Benefit Agency will take account any income you receive through grants or loans under the main student support arrangements. If you are eligible for a Maintenance Loan, the Benefit Agency will take account of the money available to you whether or not you take it out. If your partner is eligible for benefits, the Benefits Agency will take account of your student income in the same way in calculating his or her benefits. However, Tuition Fee Loan, Special Support Grant, the Childcare Grant and the Parental Learning Allowance are all disregarded for benefit purposes in full. They also disregard an amount from your Maintenance Loan for travel costs and books and equipments.
If you are eligible for means tested benefits under one of the qualifying categories above and you are an undergraduate student, make sure you receive the Special Support Grant and not the Maintenance Grant or Assembly Learning Grant from your LA. The Special Support Grant is completely disregarded for means tested benefit purposes but the Maintenance Grant and the Assembly Learning Grant is taken into account in full as income.
If you are claiming means-tested benefit before you start your course you must inform the office that pays your benefit that you are a student and declare your student income. Failing to do so could mean that you will be overpaid benefits, which they will recover from you during your time at university. Living on a student income is difficult enough without having to repay benefit overpayments.
There is no Council Tax liability for all full time students since April 2004. In order to be exempt from paying Council Tax you will need to send a copy of your attendance certificate to the council. You can get your attendance certificate from Student Records.
For further information regarding benefit entitlements contact the office who pays your benefit.