Benefits while studying

Last updated: 12/02/2020

There are a number of benefits you can apply for or continue to get while studying a course of higher education. What benefits and how much you get depends on your circumstances. These include:

  • Child benefit
  • Universal credit
  • Income support, jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits and housing benefit
  • Employment and support allowance
  • Carer’s allowance
  • Council tax reduction

Help from Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)

Child benefit

You get child benefit if you are responsible for a child or young person. A child is someone who is under 16 years of age. A young person is someone who remains in full-time non-advanced education up until the age of 20.

If your income is over £50,000 you can still get child benefit but it will affect the amount of tax you pay.

Child benefit weekly rates:

First child                                                     £20.70

Second and subsequent children           £13.70

You can apply for child benefit on form CH2 from HM Revenue & Customs. Call the Child Benefit Helpline or visit the GOV.UK website for more information:

Child Benefit Helpline:

0300 200 3100

Universal credit


Arthur lives with his 2 children, aged 6 and 1, and pays £400 per month in rent. He receives universal credit of £1,226 each assessment period (month) covering the 3rd of one month to the 2nd of the next. He is starting the first year of his degree on the 23rd September ending on the 23rd May so the course covers 8 universal credit assessment periods. The last one is not counted so his student funding will reduce his universal credit over 7 assessment periods from September to April.

Arthur receives £8,055 (£6,750 student loan plus £1,305 lone parent grant) from SAAS. This is divided by the 7 assessment periods:

£8,055 ÷ 7 =                 £1,150.71

The £110 disregard is subtracted from this:

£1,150.71 – £110 =      £1,040.71

This amount is subtracted from Arthur’s universal credit award:

£1,226 – £1,040.71 =   £185.29 universal credit per month from September to April

Arthur’s loan and Lone Parent Grant (£1,150.71), Independent Student Bursary (£142.85) and universal credit (£185.29) give him an income of £1,478.85 each month from September to April. When his course and funding ends in May he will receive his full universal credit award of £1,226 plus child benefit.

See Universal credit section for more details or contact the Lone Parent Helpline:

0808 801 0323

Income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, tax credits and housing benefit

These benefits have been replaced by universal credit and no new claims can be made for them. If you are receiving any of them when you start your course you may continue to do so, however the change in your circumstances may mean you will no longer get them or will have to claim universal credit instead.

See ‘Benefits are changing’ for more details or contact the Lone Parent Helpline:

0808 801 0323

Jobseeker’s allowance

Full-time students cannot receive income-based or new style (contribution-based) jobseeker’s allowance as studying limits the time they are able to look for and take up work. If you study part-time you can continue to get income-based or new style jobseeker’s allowance but may also have to look for work, attend interviews and take a job if offered one.

Employment and support allowance

Students in receipt of new style (contribution-based) employment and support allowance can continue to get it while studying. Students in receipt of income-related employment and support allowance can only continue to get it if they are also getting disability living allowance, personal independence payment or if they are studying part-time.

Carer’s allowance

Full-time students are not entitled to claim carer’s allowance. You can get it if you study part-time but it could affect other benefits you get.

Council tax

Full time students do not pay council tax unless they have other non-student adults living with them. Part-time students need to pay council tax but may get a reduction depending on their income.