How will my undergraduate Student Finance affect the amount of ESA (IR) and HB/LHA I get?
Some of your Student Finance income will be taken into account when your ESA and HB/LHA entitlement is calculated.
What Student Finance is counted as income?
- Maintenance Loan (although not all of this is counted)
- Adult Dependants Grant
- Maintenance Grant (pre September 2016 starters)
If you have an underlying entitlement to claim benefits despite being a full time student because you have a disability or ongoing health condition, you can receive a Special Support Grant instead of a Maintenance Grant. This is important because the Special Support Grant is ignored as income within benefit assessments. It is also ignored as income when calculating help with health costs when you apply on the HC1 form, see https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-low-income-scheme.
If you have an underlying entitlement to claim benefits despite being a full time student because you have a disability or ongoing health issue, you may be eligible for a higher amount of Maintenance Loan than other students (see table below). Part of the Maintenance Loan for living costs is paid as a 'special support' loan for books, childcare, travel and equipment. This 'special support loan element’ (£3,680) is not taken into account as income by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when calculating your means tested benefits. For more information see https://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/money/undergraduates/undergraduate-funding-2016-onwards-starters
For more information about the income assessment, see the SFE guide 'How you’re assessed and paid'.
The Disabled Students Allowance and Queen Mary Bursary payments are also ignored as income.
The relevant elements of your Student Finance will be counted as income for ESA (IR) and HB for approximately 43 weeks of the year. We call these 43 weeks ‘term-time’. This means that your entitlement to ESA (IR) and HB will change during the year.
‘Term-time’ has a specific meaning for ESA (IR) and HB:
‘Term-time’ starts on the first day of your course and runs until the end of the last full week in June. See the section of this advice guide Sample letter 1 for exact dates.
‘Term-time’ starts on the first day of the first full week in September and runs until the end of the last full week in June. See the section of this advice guide Sample letter 3 for exact dates.
Final year students
‘Term-time’ starts on the first day of the first full week in September and runs until the end of the last week of the final academic year of your course. See the section of this advice guide Sample letter 3 for exact dates.
The ‘summer period’ has a specific definition for ESA (IR) and HB. Broadly, the summer period means July and August. See the section of this advice guide Sample letter 2 for exact dates. During the ‘summer period’ your Student Finance is not counted as income, so you will normally be eligible for maximum ESA (IR) and HB. Also see the earlier section of this advice guide ‘UFAF September payments and continuing students’ for more information about financial help between the end of the ‘summer period’ and the start of the academic year, when you receive your Student Finance.
NHS Bursary holders
If you are eligible for a means tested NHS Bursary, this plus any NHS dependants grant for children will be counted as income for ESA (IR) and HB over the whole year (52 weeks).
What if I don’t get Student Finance?
If you are eligible for Student Finance it will be counted as income even if you choose not to take it.
If you interrupt your studies, or you have to re-sit exams out of attendance, you will not usually be eligible for Student Finance. During these periods, if you aren’t receiving Student Finance, you can normally claim full ESA (IR) and HB, if you meet the limited capability for work assessment and you are getting DLA or PIP.
You may still be able to claim HB if you do not get ESA but you will need to meet the limited capability for work assessment for the past 196 days. You will not be able to claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) instead of ESA (IR) because you have not finished your course. Unless you are taking time out of your course because of illness and waiting to return having taken approved time out because of an illness but you have now recovered and you are waiting to return to your course in which case you may be able to claim JSA and HB.
If you are interrupting but cannot work, get ESA (IR) or JSA please contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service if you need advice about funding.
What do I need to tell my Job Centre Plus (JCP) and HB offices (undergraduates)?
This includes: when you become a full-time student, when you enter the ‘summer period’, and when ‘term-time’ starts again each year. Delays and overpayments can occur.
The week before your course starts, write to both your JCP and HB offices to explain that you are becoming a full-time student, see sample letter 1. Keep copies of the letters you send.
You must also send your JCP and HB offices copies of your student finance notification letter as soon as you receive it. You will get this letter once your application for Student Finance has been assessed.
If you are not getting ESA (IR)/HB/LHA during ‘term-time’ you need to submit a new claim form for the ‘summer period’, you should do this in early June. If you are only getting HB in term time you will be expected to meet the new limited capability for work regulations and will be need to be assessed by the DWP.
If you are getting ESA (IR) and HB/LHA during ‘term-time’ you must write to your JCP and HB offices to ask them to reassess your claim for the ‘summer period’, see sample letter 2. You should write your letter the week before the last full week of June so that you get paid full ESA (IR) and HB/LHA over the ‘summer period’.
You will then need to write to both your JCP and HB offices at the beginning of September to explain that you will be receiving Student Finance again, see sample letter 3. Include a copy of your Student Finance notification for the new academic year, if this has been assessed.
Your ESA (IR) and HB/LHA should then be reduced to the ‘term-time’ amounts from the beginning of September. You won’t get your Student Finance until the start of the academic year, about three weeks later. The difference between your ‘summer period’ and ‘term time’ ESA (IR) and HB/LHA amounts can normally be paid by the Financial Assistance Fund for these three weeks (See earlier section of this guide).
Final year students
Your Student Finance will not be counted as income after the official end date of your final academic year. If you have an ongoing claim for ESA (IR) you will normally be entitled to full ESA (IR) and HB/LHA once the official course end date has passed. You will need to provide your JCP and HB/LHA offices with written notification of your change of circumstances or submit new claim forms. You should provide a letter from the Student Enquiries Centre, ground floor, Queens’ Building, to confirm the end date of your final academic year.
New claimants will need to meet the new limited capacity for work rules to claim ESA and HB/LHA. But as you are no longer a student you do not need to meet the National Insurance contribution requirement or be getting DLA or PIP to claim ESA.
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.