Welfare Benefits & Tax Credits
Am I eligible to claim welfare benefits?
Most full-time undergraduate students cannot claim welfare benefits. However, you may be able to claim certain benefits at particular times of the year if you fall within the excepted group of students who can claim which includes:
- lone parents
- disabled students or students with ongoing ill-health
- students who are part of a student couple with a child
Some welfare benefits have specific rules for full-time students. For example, whether or not you can get welfare benefits as a full-time student with a disability or illness will depend on how long you have been disabled or ill, how your disability affects you on a daily basis and what other income you have.
Which benefits can I claim?
If you meet the basic eligibility rules for a particular welfare benefit, if you are not already a claimant, you might be eligible to claim welfare benefits including Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit (HB) and Tax Credits. There are major changes to the benefit system affecting most claimants. Existing claimants are gradually being migrated onto a new benefit called Universal Credit (UC) over the next few years and, in many areas of the country, all new claimants are required to apply for Universal Credit.
If you think you might be eligible to claim welfare benefits, please see the section below ‘Where can I get more detailed information about benefits?’
Claiming benefits while you are a student can be complicated as your Student Finance income will normally affect your claim for means-tested benefits. How much benefit you get will depend on what income is counted in the assessment of your welfare benefits under the relevant welfare benefits rules. You must tell each of the offices that pay your benefit(s) about your Student Finance income as well as any other sources of income you have.
Where can I get more detailed information about benefits?
If you are a lone parent or have a disability or ongoing health condition, you may find it useful to read the Advice and Counselling Service’s advice guides and web pages Students with Children ‘Extra Money for Disability and Ill Health’. These provide detailed information about each welfare benefit, including Universal Credit, how your student finance is assessed as income plus template letters for you to use to notify your benefit offices about changes to your claim through the academic year.
Tax credits help people who are on a low income. You do not need to have children to claim certain tax credits. There are two types of tax credits: Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. You may be eligible for one or both. They are income assessed and paid by HM Revenue and Customs. You can get a claim form from the Tax Credits helpline: 0345 300 3900. If you are a new claimant, you may be required to apply for Universal Credit instead. For more information about eligibility for tax credits and how to claim see the gov.uk website.
Like most UK students, you cannot normally claim welfare benefits while studying full time. As an EU national studying in the UK, you are legally required to support yourself financially without relying on social assistance. For most welfare benefits, you must show that you have lived in the UK for a certain length of time before you can claim. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for more information.
Some EEA nationals can claim tax credits if they satisfy certain residence conditions. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service if you need more information.
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.