Navigation




► Welfare Benefits Whilst Studying

As a general rule, you cannot claim benefits if you are a full time student, and this usually includes the long summer vacation. If you have a disability or you care for children, you may be eligible to receive some welfare benefits, and the rules are briefly explained below.

Welfare benefits legislation is complex and fast-changing and we recommend that you contact the DSU Advice Centre for up-to-date advice and guidance before you commit to anything. The below paragraphs relate to students from the UK; different rules apply if you are from the EU or elsewhere in the world.

If you are a part time student the rules are different and you should contact us for specialist advice.

Benefits for Parents

If you are a lone parent , you may be eligible for income support, providing you have at least one child under the age of five. If your youngest child is over the age of five but under the age of eighteen you may be eligible for job seekers’ allowance (JSA), but you can only receive JSA during the long summer vacation (i.e. from the last week in June until the first week in September). If you claim JSA you will be expected to ‘sign on’ and be looking for full time paid employment. If you’re renting your home (and this includes renting University accommodation) you might also be eligible to receive housing benefit, to help pay for your rent, and this is all year round.

If you are a couple with a child, you may be eligible to receive job seekers allowance. If you’re both students this will just be during the long summer vacation (i.e. during July and August), but different rules apply if only one of you is a student. If you’re renting your home (and this includes renting University accommodation) you might also be eligible to receive housing benefit, to help pay for your rent, and this is all year round.

The amount of income support, JSA or housing benefit you receive depends on your income (and that of your partner, if applicable). Your student loans, grants and Durham Grant are usually treated as income, but only during term time and the two shorter vacations. During July and August these loans and grants should not be treated as income.

If you have a care for a child you can also claim child benefit and child tax credits. Child benefit is not means tested (although there are upper limits on how much you or your partner can earn whilst claiming it), and is paid at a flat rate depending on how many children you have. Child tax credits are paid according to your income (and that of your partner, if applicable).

Benefits for disabled people

Disability living allowance (DLA) is a benefit paid to disabled people. It is split into two components- the care component and the mobility component- and you can receive each component independently of the other. Which rate will depend on the level and nature of your disability and what care or mobility needs you have. The amount you receive is not affected by your income.

If you are unable to work due to disability, injury or ill health, you may be entitled to receive employment support allowance (ESA). ESA is paid either according to your national insurance history (contributory ESA) or according to your income (income related ESA), and the rules differ for the two types. You cannot receive income-related ESA if you are in full time education unless you receive DLA.

If you have a disability you might also be entitled to receive housing benefit, which helps contribute towards your rent- even if you’re living in University accommodation.

The amount of income-related ESA or housing benefit you receive depends on your income (and that of your partner, if applicable). Your student loans, grants and Durham Grant are usually treated as income, but only during term time and the two shorter vacations. During July and August these loans and grants should not be treated as income.

Benefits for people taking time out from study

As a general rule, full time students taking time out from their studies are treated as still being in full time study. This is the case if you’re repeating a year because you’ve failed some or all of your exams or because you want to change course.

If you’ve taken time out from your studies because of ill health, you are only entitled to benefits if the rules for disabled students apply to you. If you’ve recovered from your ill health and you’re waiting to come back to your studies, then you may be able to claim job seeker’s allowance (JSA) and housing benefit, providing you are able to work and you are actively seeking full time work.

If you’ve taken time out from your studies due to caring responsibilities, similar rules apply. You may be able to claim job seeker’s allowance (JSA) and housing benefit, providing you are able to work and you are actively seeking full time work.

If you’ve taken time out from your studies because you are pregnant, you are generally not able to claim benefits until your baby is born, unless you are working, disabled or already have children. If you’re working as well as studying you may be eligible to receive maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay, depending on how much you earn. After your baby is born you will be treated as a parent and the above rules will apply.

How to apply

Income support, DLA, ESA and JSA are administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and you can make an application by visiting DirectGov.

Child benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit are administered by HM Revenue & Customs and you can make an application by visiting DirectGov.

 

Bookmark and Share