Benefits while studying

Last updated: 20/05/2021

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

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                                                     £21.15

Second and subsequent children           £14.00

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

Universal credit has replaced 6 other income related benefits. If you are not receiving any benefits when you start your course you can claim universal credit to top up the money you get from SAAS. If you are getting tax credits and/or housing benefit when you start your course you may have to claim universal credit instead.

Universal credit is paid monthly. Each month is called an assessment period.

In order to be paid universal credit there are usually certain tasks you need to do to find work. If you get the loan and grants from SAAS you will not have to complete these tasks.

The student loan and lone parent grant affect the amount of universal credit you receive but the Independent Student Bursary, all help to pay for childcare and fees are ignored.


Arthur lives with his 2 children, aged 6 and 1, and pays £400 per month in rent. He receives universal credit of £1,244 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 9 universal credit assessment periods. The last one is not counted so his student funding will reduce his universal credit over 8 assessment periods from 3 September to 2 May.

Arthur receives £8,055 (£6,750 student loan plus £1,305 lone parent grant) from SAAS. This is divided by the 9 months of the course:

£8,055 ÷ 9 =  £895

For universal credit £110 is disregarded from this each month:

£895 – £110 =  £785

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

£1,244 – £785 =  £459 universal credit per month from 3 September to 2 May

Arthur will receive £459 per month from universal credit from September to April. He will get £895 per month plus his independant student bursary from SAAS from September to May. He will receive his full universal credit award of £1,244 in May.

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 have changed’ 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.