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Welfare Benefits for Students

Welfare benefits are payments given by the United Kingdom (UK) government to certain people on low incomes, or to meet specific needs.

Most full-time students cannot claim benefits, but there are some exceptions.

To find out what you are able to claim, or for help making a benefit application, please contact the Student Advice Service. If you are currently claiming benefits, starting a course is a change of circumstance and you should inform your benefit office when you enrol.

Benefits for eligible students at all study levels

Universal credit

The Government began the roll-out of Universal Credit in April 2013 and it remains in restricted pilot areas. The aim is that it will eventually replace six benefits with one monthly payment:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income related, Employment Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

The current Government position is that UC is paid to jobseeking, single adults only, that live in the pilot areas. Currently it is not affecting single parents or those with a disability. For further details please visit If you are worried about how this may affect your benefits when you begin studying please contact the Student Advice Service.

Tax credits

If you already claim Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit and begin a full time course, some student income is not taxable and should not change your tax credits.

However, if you work full time and reduce your hours and earnings this could affect your assessment. You should telephone HMRC to get further advice.

Other benefits

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independance Payments (PIP) are unaffected by becoming a student as they are not income-assessed nor have any working conditions attached to them.

Carers Allowance is affected by starting full time study, even though you may be continuing caring responsibilities.

Housing benefit

If you will be under the age of 21 when you begin the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design course you may be able to claim Housing Benefit.

Factsheet - Housing Benefit (PDF 426KB)

Eligibility may be affected by the introduction of Universal Credit, which will eventually replace six benefits, including Housing Benefit. The national roll-out of Universal Credit is currently scheduled to happen between 2015 and 2017. However, you may wish to speak with a Student Adviser if you intend to live in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Other state benefits

Currently the following groups of full-time students may be able to claim other state benefits:

  • Disabled students
  • Students with ongoing health issues which prevent them from working
  • Lone parents
  • Students estranged from their parents
  • Pensioners

Benefits for eligible Undergraduate and Postgraduate students

The following groups of full-time Postgraduate and Undergraduate students may be able to claim benefits:

  • Disabled students
  • Students with ongoing health issues which prevents them from working
  • Lone parents
  • Student couples with a child
  • Profoundly deaf students
  • Students taking time out of their course
  • Pensioners

Currently claiming benefits?

If you are in receipt of state benefits and begin a course, money from PCDL, scholarships or bursaries can affect your benefit entitlement as it may be treated as income. This depends on what the fund was intended to support you with - fees or living costs. Starting a course is a change of circumstance and you should inform all relevant benefit offices when you enrol.

Part-time students

Part-time students are normally able to claim benefits, but need to meet the relevant benefit rules regarding hours and type of study. The definition of a part-time course depends on the type of course and its level.