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Can I claim means tested benefits as a full-time student

Can I claim means tested benefits as a full-time student

As a full-time student, you will not normally be eligible to receive means tested benefits while you are studying.

Unfortunately, this rule also applies to all your vacation periods. However, there are some exceptions to this so read on to find out if you are eligible and where to go for more advice.

Most full-time students have to rely on their student funding to live off while studying. This will normally be supplemented by part time work and/or possibly help from family. However, a small number of full-time students can also claim means tested benefits. These are: -

  • Students who are lone (single) parents
  • Disabled students and students with ongoing health conditions who have Limited Capability for Work and are in receipt of a disability benefit such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Students with a non-student partner who is eligible to claim benefits
  • Couples who are both full time students and are also responsible for a child

I was claiming benefits before I started university so can I keep claiming?

If you were claiming benefits such as Universal Credit before you started university and you do not belong to any of the above categories, you will not be able to continue to claim once you start your full-time studies. If you have recently started a full-time course, it is important you let your work coach know about your change of circumstances, so you don't receive too much money. You can do this via your online journal.

What if I become ill or disabled while studying?

If you become sick or disabled while you are studying full time, you can make a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP is not means tested so your student income (grants or loans) will not affect how much you can receive. You can also apply for a higher rate of student finance. Talk to someone in your university about your health concerns too as you may be eligible for additional support with your studies.

What if I have a child while I am studying?

If you have a child while you are studying full time, you will be eligible to claim benefits, this is normally from when your child is born. The benefits you can claim will depend on your circumstances and the circumstances of your partner if you have one. As it is likely you will need to take time out of your studies, make sure you get advice about the money and study options available to you as soon as you can, ideally before you have your child.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to apply for a higher rate of student finance.

What if I need to take time out from my course?

If you need to take time out of your course due to health or caring responsibilities, you will only normally be able to claim means tested benefits if you are in one of the groups listed. However, once you have recovered from your health issues or your caring responsibilities have ended you should be able to claim benefits while you wait to return to your course. In some cases, you may be able to keep receiving your student finance while you are not attending if you can evidence you will be in hardship if this is stopped.


The benefits system is complicated and uses a lot of jargon that most of us are not familiar with and this article cannot cover every possible scenario. However, your university will have student advisers who can help you and direct you to appropriate resources. We have also included some information below.


Turn 2 Us
Benefits Guides

How student funding may impact on benefits
How to claim PIP
How to claim Universal Credit as a full-time student.

Disability Rights UK
Studying and claiming disability benefits
The rules around claiming Universal Credit as a full-time student

By Lynne Condell - Student Money Advice Specialist

Can I claim means tested benefits as a full-time student



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