This blog looks at all the different benefits a student at university can receive. The entitlements are based on a variety of factors and eligibility criteria. These include your income, family situation, course type and status of employment.  

Each will be explored in turn. In addition, other parallel queries regarding other possible benefits will also be addressed. 

Can I claim any benefits while at University? 

Yes. There are a number of benefits you can claim while at University. The entitlement and the amount you receive depends on many factors. For example, the benefits you can receive will depend on whether you are in full-time or part-time education. 

It will also depend on factors like whether you have children etc. 

Many students at University are in receipt of some kind of student loan(s). The amount of student loan received could affect the receipt of some benefits, because in many cases this student finance is taken as income. 

First the article takes a look at the different types of loans a student at University can get. Then each of the major benefits and their eligibility will be described in turn, along with any restrictions or concessions therein. 

Types of Student Loans for University Scholars 

The following student loans are the major financing options. And some of them are taken into consideration as income/savings when calculating your benefit entitlements. 

Tuition Fee Loan 

As the name suggests the tuition fee of the university is provided directly to the institutions by the government. It then has to be paid back by the recipient within the stated time period. 

If your course is accelerated and is completed before schedule, you can claim a slightly higher amount. This is not considered as savings or income for the purpose of receiving benefits. 

Maintenance Loan 

This loan makes provision for student living costs. The grant varies depending on your living arrangements and where you go to University. The rates differ depending on whether your home is in London and you live with your family or whether you live alone.

It also depends on whether your family is based in London but you study abroad, for either the full course or a semester/year exchange program. Most probably you will only get a partial loan and will have to find other extra funding through scholarships or part-time jobs etc. 

You may get reimbursement for travel costs if you ordinarily reside in England but you are studying abroad. 

Postgraduate Student Loan 

This is for people who are pursuing a Master’s degree.  It will pay for the course fees and any associated living costs. But the course has to be a proper post-graduate course. 

It cannot be integrated with any under-graduate program or doctoral studies. 30% of the loan will be counted as income when the DWP calculates benefits. 

You will not receive this loan, if you are receiving their financial support e.g. from Student Finance England. As Soon as you start working and receive your first salary/income , you will have to start repaying the loan. 

Now, let’s turn to the benefits that can be availed for people who are at University. 

Universal Credit 

Usually people enrolled in full time education at University will not be eligible to receive Universal Credit benefits. But there are some exceptions that are made. So if you fulfill any of the following criteria, then you may be able to claim UC benefits to some extent.

If you are in full-time education, you may be able to claim Universal Credit if : 

  • If you are a single parent, studying at university and are solely responsible for your child.
  • If you have a partner who is of Universal credit age and eligibility, they can claim for both of you. 
  • If you have a serious disability that enables you to claim the disability premium or allowance of the ESA equivalent component of Universal Credit or if you are receiving either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). 
  • If your partner and you are the guardians of your child and either one or both of you are students.
  • If you are below 21 years of age and pursuing non-advanced education e.g. A-levels or equivalent and do not have parental support or do not/cannot live with your family. Perhaps you don’t have a family if you are an orphan. 

Apart from this, if you are a part-time student at University, you will have to sign a Claimant Commitment. You will either have to be actively looking for a job or actively employed to claim this portion of Universal Credit. 

Universal credit should cover some part of living and housing costs and disability expenses as well. And it provides for child care expenses. 

But the amount you receive will depend on your income, which includes the whole or part of the student loans/financing that you are receiving. The Department of Work and Pension (DWP) will calculate your entitlement accordingly. 

Job-seekers Allowance (JSA) or equivalent unemployment allowance 

Usually, while in full time education, you won’t be entitled to receive JSA or the unemployment allowance equivalent under Universal Credit. But there are situations under which you may be able to claim JSA. 

Full time essentially means more than 16 hours of lecture/study at university per week, or even a course that has been designated as full-time by the institution.

If you are in full-time education you may be able to get JSA during the university vacations and holidays. You have to fulfill the following terms: 

  • You are a single parent 
  • You are part of a couple, where both of you are full time students, but both or either of you have full responsibility for the care of your child. 
  • You took a break to convalesce from an illness or to attend to caregiving responsibilities and are now ready to resume full-time education. 

If you are a part-time student at university , then you may be able to claim JSA if you meet the following criteria: 

  • You are available for and actively looking for work 
  • Your study/work timings are less than 16 hours per week at the moment
  • You are willing and able to work around your university schedule to be able to attend work and related interviews/assessment etc.
  • Ideally, you should be 18 years or above 

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or equivalent under Universal Credit 

If you have a disability or illness that prevents you from working or working to your full capability, then you are eligible for new-style ESA, even if you are currently studying in University. 

This holds whether you are studying full-time or part-time. But you still have to have worked previously in the past 2-3 years and have made enough National insurance contributions. 

Since the income-related ESA has now been subsumed under Universal Credit you can get the equivalent only if you are studying part-time. 

You also have to be in receipt of some kind of disability benefit to be able to claim ESA while being  a part-time University student. 

This blog looked at all the different benefits a student at university can receive. The entitlements are based on a variety of factors and eligibility criteria. These include your income, family situation, course type and status of employment.  

Each was explored in turn. It also looked at the different loans a student at University  could access and their impact on benefits. 

If you have any comments, suggestions, or queries, please contact us and leave a message. We welcome your input. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)- Can I claim any benefits while at University? 

Can I claim Carer’s Allowance if I am in University? 

It depends if you are a full-time or part-time student. If you are a full-time student who has to invest 21 hours or more per week of both lecture and personal study time, then you will not be eligible for any Carer’s Allowance. 

But if you are a part-time student, whose attendance and course time is less than 21 hours per week and you can arrange your personal study time on a flexible basis, then you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

But you will have to  check with both the University guidelines as well as the DWP. 

Can I claim disability benefits if I am in University? 

Yes, irrespective of whether you are a full-time or part-time student at a University, if you have any physical or mental disabilities which affect your cognition, mobility and ability to do daily tasks you are eligible for disability benefits. 

If you are under State Pension age, you can claim the Personal Independence Payment(PIP) and if you are above Pension Credit age, you can claim the Attendance Allowance. 

Your student loans will not be taken into consideration, nor will any other income, because these benefits are not means-tested. For more information, you can refer to –Can full-time students claim disability benefits? – Turn2us

Can I claim Housing Benefits if I am in University? 

If you were already claiming Housing Benefits then you can continue to claim it but only if you are renting a house and you are on a low income. Now that Housing Benefits have been subsumed by Universal Credit, you cannot make any fresh claims. 

But you may be able to get the housing allowance equivalent under Universal credit, if you are eligible. 

Can I claim Pension Credit if I am at University ? 

If you are at or above the official State Pension age and you meet the requirements to be eligible for Pension Credit, then you can receive this income top-up. You mainly just have to be on a low income to qualify. 

This Pension Credit does not depend on your income or your student loans. Since you are studying and not retiring, you may be able to get the Guaranteed Credit portion of the Pension Credit. This will provide an income supplement every week. 

For more information, you may read- Pension Credit – Turn2us

Can I claim Child or Working Tax Credits while at University? 

If you were already receiving these tax credits then you can continue their receipt. But if it is a new claim then you have to claim Universal Credit equivalents instead. 

To be eligible you either have to be responsible for a child either a single parent or as a part of a couple. For Working Tax Credit, you and/or your partner need to be working and on a low income. 

If you are not eligible you can still claim Child Benefits which are available for both full-time and part-time students, irrespective of their employment, income and family status. 

References : 

  1. Bentley, D. (2019, September 4). Universal Credit rules on student loans that every pupil and parent should know. BirminghamLive. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/student-loans-income-universal-credit-16862764
  2. Full-time students and benefits – Turn2us. (n.d.). Www.turn2us.org.uk. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Full-time-students-and-benefits/How-much-Universal-Credit-will-I-get
  3. Government Digital Service. (2012, October 16). Student finance. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/new-fulltime-students
  4. Government Digital Service. (2018, February 5). Master’s Loan. GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/masters-loan
  5. Benefits and tax credits while you’re studying. (n.d.). Gingerbread. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.gingerbread.org.uk/information/benefits-tax-credits-and-universal-credit/if-youre-planning-to-study/benefits-youre-studying/
  6. Benefits for higher education students | nidirect. (2015, November 9). Www.nidirect.gov.uk. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/benefits-higher-education-students
  7. Students and new style JSA | Disability Rights UK. (n.d.). Www.disability rights uk.org. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/students-and-jsa
  8. Pension Credit – Turn2us. (n.d.). Www.turn2us.org.uk. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Pension-Credit/What-is-Pension-Credit
  9. What is Child Benefit? – Turn2us. (n.d.). Www.turn2us.org.uk. https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Child-Benefit/What-is-Child-Benefit
  10. Employment and Support Allowance. (2015, November 13). Nidirect. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/employment-and-support-allowance

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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.