Am I eligible to claim welfare benefits?
I’m a full-time postgraduate student
Most full-time postgraduate students cannot claim welfare benefits. However, you may be able to claim certain benefits 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.
I’m a part-time postgraduate student
There are no specific rules for part-time students so if you are a part-time postgraduate student and already claiming welfare benefits, then as long as you continue to satisfy the rules for those welfare benefits, you can continue your claim.
If you are available for and actively seeking work, you may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit – see below. This may include PhD students who are writing up on a part-time basis.
Which benefits can I claim?
If you meet the basic eligibility rules for a particular welfare benefit, you might be eligible to claim welfare benefits including Universal Credit (UC) Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income Support (IS), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit (HB) and Tax Credits. For an overview of how to apply for and claim these benefits you can search for them individually on the gov.uk website.
Please note, there are major changes to the benefit system affecting most claimants over the next few years. Existing claimants will be migrated onto the new benefits gradually over the next few years.
The introduction of Universal Credit (UC) – This is being introduced in stages and has so far only been introduced in certain areas.
UC is a new single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It will replace Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, income related Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, and Tax Credits. You will make one online claim for your living costs, housing and dependent children. It will be made up of a standard allowance plus other 'elements' - for example for children, childcare, housing and caring. There will also be an element for those with limited capability for work. The amount you could get will depend on your own circumstances. It is paid monthly in arrears.
If you qualify, your monthly payment will cover everyone in your family who qualifies for support. 'Family' could mean you as a single person for example, or you might also be claiming for a partner and/or children. For more details see: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
If you think you might be eligible to claim welfare benefits, contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service for advice about your eligibility.
Will my student income affect my benefit entitlement?
If you are eligible for welfare benefits, you are required tell each of the offices that pay your benefit(s) about your income including any income you get for your studies. This could include income from the Postgraduate Loan, from bank loans, from earnings or from university scholarships or stipends. How much benefit you get will depend on what income can be counted in the assessment of your welfare benefits under the relevant welfare benefits rules. A Welfare Adviser can advise you what income would be counted.
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 web pages for student parents, and our advice guide Extra Money for Disability and Ill Health for more information about claiming benefits while studying. These guides include information about how student income is counted within the benefits assessments.
Like most UK students, you cannot normally claim 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.
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: 0845 300 3900. Please note that tax credits are going to gradually be replaced by Universal Credit. For more information about eligibility for tax credits and how to claim, see the gov.uk website.
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.