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Last updated:
19/06/2020

How to claim Universal Credit as a student?

In specific circumstances, you may be able to claim Universal Credit as a student. We explain if you can claim and what impact student income can have on your Universal Credit payment.

Claiming Universal Credit if you’re studying full-time

As a student, you can not usually get Universal Credit if you’re studying full-time. However, there are some exceptions.

You may be able to get Universal Credit if you’re studying full-time and any of the following applies to you:

  • You’re 21 or younger and in full-time non-advanced education.
  • You’re responsible for a child.
  • You live with your partner, and they are claiming Universal Credit.
  • You are old enough to receive a state pension, and the partner you live with is under the state pension age.
  • You’re disabled or have a mental illness and have limited capability for work and receive any of the following:

If you’re 21 or younger, in non-advanced education and don’t have parental support, you may be eligible if:

  • You’re in full-time non-advanced education or training where the course started before you reached 21.
  • You reach 21 while you are studying.

If you meet this specific criteria, you will be able to claim Universal Credit until:

  • The end of your academic course, if it finishes before you reach 21.
  • The end of your academic year in which you become 21.

What is classed as a full-time course

A course is classified as full-time by the education or training provider. You will be classed as a full-time student if you study for a full-time course on a part-time basis.

You will be classed as a full-time student if you are studying one of the following:

  • Advanced education
    • Postgraduate degree.
    • First degree.
    • Diploma or higher education.
    • Higher national diploma.
    • Any course with a standard classified above an advanced GNVQ.
  • Non-advanced education
    • National Qualification Framework level 3.
    • A level.
    • AS level.
    • Advanced Diploma.
    • National Diploma.
    • Level 3 NVQ.

If you’re studying part-time, you may still be eligible for Universal Credit. You will have to meet other Universal Credit requirements. It would be best if you spoke to a welfare benefits officer to find out more information.

How will my student income impact my Universal Credit payments?

Student income will affect your Universal Credit payment. Universal Credit is paid once a month and is assessed on your specific circumstances for the month - known as a Universal Credit assessment period.

During each assessment period, you will be deducted money from your Universal Credit payment for any student income you receive. The calculation is based on your student income for the month minus an amount for expenses.

The maximum student loan you can get will be taken into account. This applies even if you have:

  • Not applied for a student loan.
  • Not accepted the student loan.
  • Choose not to take the full amount offered to you.
  • Received a reduced loan because your parents or partner have offered to contribute to your living costs.

You will not receive student income deductions from your Universal Credit payment for months where the following apply:

  • Your assessment period includes the first day of your summer holiday.
  • You're on summer holiday for the entirety of your assessment period.
  • The course you are studying ends during an assessment period.

Student loans

You may still receive Universal Credit with a student loan. There are different student loan types, and each one will affect your Universal Credit differently depending on which loan you receive:

  • Student loans that are intended to cover tuition fees will be excluded from your Universal Credit payment.
  • Maintenance loans that are intended to cover your living costs will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment.
  • Special Support loans and Grants which are intended to support you for study equipment and travel will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

Postgraduate Master’s and Doctoral loans are paid as one payment in three instalments over each year of your study. The loan is a contribution to both your tuition fees and living costs.

When calculating your Universal Credit payments, 30% of the loan will be considered while the rest will be excluded.

Will I have a Claimant Commitment as a student?

To claim Universal Credit everyone has to agree to a Claimant Commitment. However, if you are claiming Universal Credit as a student, what you will have to do to comply with your Claimant Commitment will vary depending on your circumstances.

If you claim Universal Credit as a student who is 21 or under that equates to a qualification up to A level or equivalent, you will not be required to do any actions under the Claimant Commitment. Likewise, if you receive student income such as a loan or grant.

Even if you don't fall into the above two categories, you might not have to do any actions as part of your Claimant Commitment. It would help if you spoke to your work coach, and they will be able to guide you further.

If you have taken time out from your course

If you are claiming Universal Credit and have taken time out from studying your course, you will be expected to complete actions as part of your Claimant Commitment. Your work coach will be able to offer further guidance.

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