STUDENTS WITH CHILDREN

If you are a parent or about to become one, you may be eligible for extra financial support depending on your circumstances. This page explains what financial help you might get from student finance (UK government student support), welfare benefits or QMUL, if you meet the eligibility criteria for these different types of funding.

The rules for claiming welfare benefits in the UK are complicated as eligibility may be determined by a number of factors such as UK residence, age, income, family composition, entitlement to other benefits and other criteria. This webpage can only provide a brief overview of what you might be entitled to. Means testing for the different elements of student finance is also different. For example, being eligible for maximum student finance Maintenance Loan does not automatically mean you will get maximum dependants grants such as the student finance Childcare Grant. Click on the relevant headings below for advice about your entitlements to student finance and benefits, depending on your individual circumstances. 

It can often be useful to discuss your options with a Welfare Adviser, especially if you have specific questions about your circumstances.

If you are an international student click here for helpful information for international students with children.

I’m pregnant

I’m pregnant

If you or your partner are pregnant, your eligibility for student finance, supplementary grants and most welfare benefits will only begin once your baby is born. You will need to provide the relevant funding authority with proof, usually your baby’s birth certificate. 

Whilst you are pregnant, you are eligible for free NHS prescriptions and free dental care. You might also qualify for Healthy Start food vouchers. The Money Advice webpage explains more about these and how to claim them. If you are pregnant but have also been working, you might also qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. If your partner is pregnant, you may qualify for Paternity Pay. See the Money Advice webpage for more information. Maternity Action also has a helpline you can call for advice about your entitlements as well as information sheets you can download.

You might also qualify for Maternity/Paternity Pay if you are a postgraduate student getting Research Council funding or QMUL funding. QMUL Research Degrees Office policies around Maternity/Paternity Pay are set out here. If you have specific questions, please contact the Research Degrees Office directly. 

See the relevant sections below for advice about the student finance household income assessment, which will depend on the date your baby is born and your family circumstances.

Depending on when your baby is due, you may need to consider interrupting your studies. There is lots of useful advice and information about this in our advice guides:

If you do not wish to interrupt your studies, another option may be to switch to part time study - see the section 'I'm a part-time student with children' below for advice about your options. 

 

I’m a full-time student with children and my partner is a non-student

I’m a full-time student with children and my partner is a non-student

Government student support

Undergraduates

If you are a Home/EU full-time undergraduate parent eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan and student finance for living costs from your funding authority, you can apply for income assessed student finance supplementary grants, depending on your circumstances. These are the Adults Dependants’ Grant, Parents’ Learning Allowance and the Childcare Grant – see the 'Supplementary grants' section of our student finance advice guides for more information about who can apply, and how much the grants are worth:

If you start your course from September 2016, you might be eligible for more Maintenance Loan if you meet the qualifying criteria as set out in the above 2016 onwards starters advice guide. This is normally where you are personally eligibe for certain welfare benefits such as Housing Benefit, If your non-student partner is the benefit claimant for your family, you will not be eligible for the additional Maintenance Loan. If you are claiming Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your eligibility for the additional Maintenance Loan. The maximum Maintenance Loan for students who meet the eligibility criteria to claim welfare benefits in 2016-17 is £11,671 (if you live away from home and study in London) and £8,144 if you live at home. Part of the loan for living costs is paid as a 'special support' loan for books, childcare, travel and equipment.

If you started your course before 2016, you may be also eligible for a Special Support Grant rather than a Maintenance Grant if you are personally eligible for certain benefits. If your non-student partner is the benefit claimant for your family, you will not meet the eligibility criteria for the Special Support Grant. The pre-2016 starters advice guide sets out the eligibility criteria. If you qualify for the Special Support Grant, there will be no deduction from your Maintenance Loan as there is with the Maintenance Grant.

Medical and dental students in NHS funded years of their course may be eligible to claim NHS additional allowances. These include Dependants' Allowance, Parents' Learning Allowance and Childcare Allowance. See our Funding for Medical and Dental students advice guide for more information.

If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, your partner’s income will normally be used in the student finance household income assessment rather than parental income. 

If, however, you are under 25 years old or your first child is born after the first day of an academic year of your course and you are co-habiting, the household income assessment will usually be based on your parent’s income, not your partner’s until the following academic year.

EU students with children who are only getting the EU Fee Loan are not eligible for supplementary grants for dependants, but some EU nationals are eligible for student finance for living costs as set out in our advice guides:

Contact a Welfare Adviser if you are an EU national and would like advice about your eligibility for student finance for living costs.

Postgraduate students

If you are a home/EU postgraduate student you might be eligible for a UK government Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 if you are starting a Masters course from 2016. However there there is no provision in the new scheme for additional supplementary grants to help cover child-related costs. See our Postgraduate Funding advice guide for more information about the new loans. Professional and Career Development Loans are also currently still available to help you fund your postgraduate study. See the gov.uk website for more information about PCDLs.  

Welfare Benefits

Major changes to the welfare benefit system are currently being introduced which will affect most benefit claimants. Existing benefits including Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit and Child and Working Tax Credits are being replaced by a new single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income called Universal Credit. If you are already claiming benefits and your cirumstances change, or the area where you live is selected for Universal Credit,  you may be migrated onto this new benefit.

Home undergraduate and home postgraduate students with children can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit on the basis of having responsibility for a child, unless they are claiming Universal Credit. How much you get will depend on your household income.  

If you are on a low income, your non-student partner can make a claim in his/her name for Housing Benefit for you as a couple to help with your housing costs, unless you are getting Universal Credit. If you are renting from a private landlord, the amount of housing benefit you are eligible for is calculated according to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules. LHA is calculated according to how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which area you live in. Enter your details on the gov.uk webpage to find out the rates for your postcode and also see Shelter's guidance for more information about LHA.  If you would find it helpful, a Welfare Adviser can normally provide you with an estimate of Housing Benefit if you are able to provide your full income details. If you are claiming Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your entitlment. 
 

See the gov.uk website for more information about Child Tax Credit, Child BenefitHousing Benefit and Universal Credit

If you and/or your partner are working, you might be eligible for Working Tax Credit and, depending on your hours, some extra help from the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, unless you are in receipt of Universal Credit. If you are eligible for the student finance Childcare Grant, you cannot claim both this and the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, just one or the other. If you are claiming Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your entitlement. 

The gov.uk website explains more about Income Support, Job Seeker’s AllowanceWorking Tax Credit and Universal Credit

See the claiming welfare benefits section below for advice on how to claim individual benefits.

If you start your course from 2016 onwards and you meet the criteria for extra Maintenance Loan, a 'special support' loan element (up to £3,469 in 2016-17) is not taken into account as income by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when calculating your means-tested benefits. Undergraduate students who started their course before 2016 who are eligible for the Special Support Grant rather than the Maintenance Grant will not have this grant counted as income in the assessment of their welfare benefits. 

Payments from Disabled Students’ Allowance are also ignored in a benefit assessment.

Postgraduate students in receipt of a grant or loan for living costs which could be a scholarship, stipend or Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL), will have any amount that is paid for tuition fees or course costs including books and equipment ignored as income in the assessment of their welfare benefits. However, any amount of grant or loan paid for living costs will be treated as income.  You should divide the total amount of grant or loan over the period for which it is paid (the number of weeks of your course) to reach a weekly amount of grant or loan that will be treated as income within a benefit assessment. For example if you receive a monthly stipend for 12 months, the total annual amount will be divided by 52 weeks.

30% of the maximum Postgraduate Loan that you are eligible for under the new government Postgraduate Loans Scheme will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. This means that if you choose not to take a Postgraduate Loan where you are eligible, this amount will still be taken into account as income and will reduce your welfare benefits entitlement.  

 

I’m a full-time student with children and my partner is also a full-time student

I’m a full-time student with children and my partner is also a full-time student

Government student support

Undergraduates

If you start your course from September 2016, you should be eligible for more Maintenance Loan on the basis you and your partner are both full-time students with responsibility for a child. Our Undergraduate Funding: 2016 onwards starters advice guide explains more about this in the 'Maintenance Loan' and 'Students eligible for welfare benefits' sections. The maximum Maintenance Loan for students with an underlying eligibility to claim welfare benefits in 2016-17 is £11,671 (if you live away from home and study in London) and £8,144 if you live at home. Part of the loan for living costs is paid as a 'special support' loan for books, childcare, travel and equipment.

If you started your course before 2016, you should be eligible for a Special Support Grant rather than a Maintenance Grant if both you and your partner are full-time students with responsibility for a child. The main advantage of this is that there will be no deduction from your Maintenance Loan as there is with the Maintenance Grant. See our Undergraduate Funding: pre-2016 starters advice guide for more information. 

In addition to your individual student finance Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans (and Special Support Grant if you started your course before September 2016) you can apply for student finance supplementary grants which are the Adults Dependants’ Grant, Parents’ Learning Allowance and the Childcare Grant. Although both of you can claim the Parents' Learning Allowance, only one of you can claim the student finance Childcare Grant. See the above funding guides for more information about these.

Medical and dental students in NHS funded years of their course may be eligible to claim NHS additional allowances. These include Dependants' Allowance, Parents' Learning Allowance, Childcare Allowance and Disabled Students Allowance. See our Funding for Medical and Dental students advice guide for more information.

If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, your partner’s income will normally be used in the assessment of the student finance household income. If however, you are under 25 or your first child is born after the first day of an academic year of your course and you are cohabiting, the household income assessment will be based on your parent’s income, not your partner’s until the following academic year.

EU students with children who are only getting the EU Fee Loan are not eligible for undergraduate student finance for living costs or supplementary grants such as the Adults Dependants’ Grant, Parents’ Learning Allowance and Childcare Grant. Some EU nationals are eligible for student finance for living costs as set out in our advice guides:

Contact a Welfare Adviser if you are an EU national and would like advice about your eligibility for student finance for living costs. 

Postgraduates

If you are a home/EU postgraduate student, you might be eligible for a UK government Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 new students starting a Masters course from 2016. There is no provision in the new scheme for additional supplementary grants to help cover child-related costs. Professional and Career Development  Loans (PCDLs) are also currently still available to help you fund your postgraduate study. See our Postgraduate Funding guide for more information. 

Postgraduate students in receipt of a grant for living costs which could be a scholarship, stipend or PCDL will have any amount that is paid for tuition fees or course costs including books and equipment ignored as income in the assessment of their welfare benefits. 

Payments from Disabled Students' Allowance are also ignored.

However, any amount of grant or loan paid for living costs will be treated as income (except for the new Postgraduate Loan - see below). You should divide the total amount of grant or loan over the period for which it is paid (the number of weeks of your course) to reach a weekly amount of grant or loan that will be treated as income within a benefit assessment. For example, if you receive a monthly stipend for 12 months, the total annual amount will be divided by 52 weeks. 

30% of the maximum Postgraduate Loan that you are eligible for under the new government Postgraduate Loans Scheme will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. We understand this means that if you choose not to take a Postgraduate Loan where you are eligible, this amount will still be taken int account.  

Welfare Benefits

Major changes to the welfare benefit system are currently being introduced which will affect most claimants. Existing benefits including Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit and Child and Working Tax Credits are being replaced by a new single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income called Universal Credit. If you are already claiming benefits and your cirumstances change, or the area where you live is selected for Universal Credit, you may be migrated onto this new benefit.

As a student couple with responsibility for a child, one of you can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for your family, unless you are claiming Universal Credit. If you and/or your partner are working, you might also be eligible for Working Tax Credit and, depending on your hours, some extra help from the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, unless you are claiming Universal Credit. You cannot claim both the student finance Childcare Grant and the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. If you are getting Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your entitlement 

You can also claim Housing Benefit to help with housing costs.  If you are renting from a private landlord, the amount of housing benefit you are eligible for is calculated according to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules. LHA is calculated according to how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which area you live in. Enter your details on the gov.uk webpage to find out the rates for your postcode and also see Shelter's guidance for more information about LHA.  A Welfare Adviser can estimate your entitlement for you. If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice. 

During the long summer vacation only, one of you may be eligible to claim Income Support (if you started your course after 21st May 2012 and your youngest child is younger than 5) or Job Seeker’s Allowance (if you started your course after 21st May 2012 and your youngest child is 5 or older) on the basis you are both full-time student parents, unless you are claiming Universal Credit. Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your eligibility for Income Support if you started your course prior to 2012.  Unlike for Income Support, there is no automatic entitlement to Job Seeker's Allowance if you meet the basic eligibility requirements. This is because you will additionally have to evidence various work-related activities and being a full-time student may not exempt you from these requirements as set out in your agreement, called the claimant commitment. If you are migrated onto Universal Credit, the eligibility rules regarding the age of your youngest child are different. The Citizens Advice Bureau website has a useful explanation of what work-related activity you would be expected to undertake depending on the age of your child - scroll down the page to the 'What group for your personal circumstances?' section. 

See the gov.uk website for more information about Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit. Income Support, Job Seeker’s AllowanceWorking Tax Credit and Universal Credit.

If you start your course from 2016 onwards and you meet the criteria for extra Maintenance Loan, a 'special support' loan element (up to £3,469 in 2016-17) is not taken into account as income by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when calculating your means-tested benefits. If you started your course before 2016 and are eligible for the Special Support Grant rather than the Maintenance Grant, the Special Support Grant is not counted as income in the assessment of your welfare benefits.

See the 'Claiming welfare benefits' section below for advice on how to claim individual welfare benefits.

I’m a lone parent full-time student

I’m a lone parent full-time student

Student Support

Undergraduates

Lone parents can expect to be eligible for the maximum amount of student finance for their cohort ie. the rate applicable to the year they start their course. 

If you start your course from September 2016, you should qualify for more Maintenance Loan on the basis of being a lone parent. The maximum Maintenance Loan for students with an underlying eligibility to claim welfare benefits, which includes lone parents, in 2016-17 is £11,671 (if you live away from home and study in London) and £8,144 if you live at home. Part of the loan for living costs is paid as a 'special support' loan for books, childcare, travel and equipment. If you started your course before 2016, you can claim the student finance Special Support Grant rather than the Maintenance Grant on the basis you are a lone parent. The main advantage of getting the Special Support Grant is that there will be no deduction from your Maintenance Loan as there is with the Maintenance Grant, and also the Special Support Grant is not treated as income in the assessent of your welfare benefits. See the relevant Undergraduate Funding advice guide for more information:

Undergraduate lone parents can apply for student finance supplementary grants from their funding authority in addition to a Tuition Fee Loan and a Maintenance Loan (and Special Support Grant if you started your course prior to September 2016). These are the Adult Dependants’ Grant, Parents’ Learning Allowance and Childcare Grant. The above guides explain more about how to apply for these and what extra financial help you could get. 

Medical and dental students in NHS funded years of their course may be eligible to claim NHS additional allowances. These include 'Allowance, Parents' Learning Allowance, Childcare Allowance and Disabled Students Allowance. See our Funding for Medical and Dental students advice guide for more information

EU students with children who are only getting an EU Fee Loan will not be eligible for undergraduate student finance for living costs or supplementary grants such as the Adults Dependants’ Grant, Parents’ Learning Allowance and Childcare Grant. However, some EU nationals are eligible for student finance for living costs as set out in our advice guides:

Contact a Welfare Adviser if you are an EU national and would like advice about your eligibility for student finance for living costs. 

Postgraduates

There are no equivalent supplementary grants such as the Adult Dependants’ Grant, Parents’ Learning Allowance and Childcare grant for postgraduate student lone parents.

If you are a home/EU postgraduate lone parent, you might be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 which the government has introduced for new students, starting their course from 2016. Unlike undergraduate student finance living costs support, there is no provision in the new scheme for additional supplementary grants to help cover child-related costs. 

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) are also currently still available to help you fund your postgraduate study. See the gov.uk website for more information about these.  You might also find it useful to refer to our Postgraduate Funding advice guide.

Postgraduate lone parent students in receipt of a grant for living costs which could be a scholarship, stipend, or Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL), will have any amount that is paid for tuition fees or course costs including books and equipment ignored as income in the assessment of their welfare benefits.However, any amount of grant or loan (except for the new UK government Postgraduate Loan - see below) paid for living costs will be treated as income. You should divide the total amount of grant or loan over the period for which it is paid (the number of weeks of your course) to reach a weekly amount of grant or loan that will be treated as income within a benefit assessment. For example if you receive a monthly stipend for 12 months, the total annual amount will be divided by 52 weeks.

30% of the maximum Postgraduate Loan that you are eligible for under the new government Postgraduate Loans Scheme will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. We understand this means that if you choose not to take a Postgraduate Loan where you are eligible, this amount will still be taken int account.  

Payments from Disabled Students’ Allowance are also ignored.

Welfare Benefits

Major changes to the welfare benefit system are currently being introduced which will affect most claimants. Existing benefits including Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit and Child and Working Tax Credits are being replaced by a new single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income called Universal Credit. If you are already claiming benefits and your cirumstances change, or the area where you live is selected for Universal Credit, you may be migrated onto this new benefit.

As a lone parent with responsibility for a child, you can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, unless you are claiming Universal Credit.

You can also claim Housing Benefit to help with housing costs but during most of the year, your student finance is counted within the assessment, so you might either get partial Housing Benefit or no award.  If you are renting from a private landlord, the amount of housing benefit you are eligible for is calculated according to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules. LHA is calculated according to how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which area you live in. Enter your details on the gov.uk webpage to find out the rates for your postcode and also see Shelter's guidance for more information about LHA.  A Welfare Adviser can estimate your entitlement for you. If you have been migrated onto Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice. 

During the long summer vacation only, you can claim either Income Support (if you started your course after 21st May 2012 and your youngest child is younger than 5) or Job Seeker’s Allowance (if you started your course after May 21st 2012 and your youngest child is 5 or over). Unlike for Income Support, there is no automatic entitlement to Job Seeker's Allowance if you meet the basic eligibility requirements. This is because you will additionally have to evidence various work-related activities and being a full-time student may not exempt you from these requirements as set out in your agreement, called the claimant commitment. Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your eligibility for Income Support if you started your course prior to 2012.

If you are migrated onto Universal Credit, the eligibility rules regarding the age of your youngest child are different. Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your entitlement. The Citizens Advice Bureau website has a useful explanation of what work-related activity you would be expected to undertake depending on the age of your child - scroll down the page to the 'What group for your personal circumstances?' section. 

If your Income Support stops because of the age of your child, make sure you notify your local authority if you will continue to be eligible for Housing Benefit, so that your Housing Benefit payments do not stop. If you are getting Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice.

Most lone parent undergraduate students cannot work during the summer vacation due to childcare responsibilities, and so need extra money, because they don’t receive Student Finance for living costs during this time. Certain lone parent students will also be able to claim some Income Support all year round, for example postgraduate students with no student income. 

If you are able to work, for example, if a friend or family member can help provide childcare, you might also be eligible for Working Tax Credit and, if you are working a minimum of 16 hours per week, some extra help from the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, unless you are in receipt of Unversal Credit. You cannot claim both the student finance Childcare Grant and the childcare element of Working Tax Credit if you are eligible for these, just one or the other. If you are getting Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your entitlement.

See the gov.uk website for more information about Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit. Income Support, Job Seeker’s AllowanceWorking Tax Credit and Universal Credit.

If you start your course from 2016 onwards and you meet the criteria for extra maintenance loan, a 'special support' loan element (up to £3,469 in 2016-17) is not taken into account as income by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when calculating your means-tested benefits. Undergraduate students who started their course before 2016 who are eligible for the Special Support Grant rather than the Maintenance Grant will not have this grant counted as income in the assessment of their welfare benefits.

See the 'Claiming Welfare Benefits' section below for advice on how to claim individual welfare benefits and the 'How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?' section below for advice about how your welfare benefit entitlement will change during summer vacation periods. 

 

I'm a part-time student with children

I'm a part-time student with children

QMUL does not offer part-time undergraduate courses, however, many QMUL postgraduates opt to undertake part-time study from the outset, which enables them to successfully combine study, work and childcare. If you begin a course in full-time mode, your academic school may allow you to swtich to part-time mode if you have compelling personal reasons, which would allow you to complete your studies at a pace you can more easily manage rather than having to interrupt your studies. Contact your academic school for advice about your options. There is more information about changes to your studies, including about tuition fee liabiilty on interruption and resumption of studies in our Postgraduate Funding advice guide.

Welfare Benefits

Major changes to the welfare benefit system are currently being introduced which will affect most claimants. Existing benefits including Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit and Child and Working Tax Credits are being replaced by a new single monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income called Universal Credit. If you are already claiming benefits and your cirumstances change, or the area where you live is selected for Universal Credit, you may be migrated onto this new benefit.

Part-time students should not face the same restrictions in claiming welfare benefits which apply to full-time students. You can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit on the basis of having responsibility for a child, unless you are claiming Universal Credit. How much you get will depend on your household income.  If you are on a low income, you or your partner can make a claim for Housing Benefit. If you would find it helpful, a Welfare Adviser can normally provide you with an estimate of Housing Benefit if you are able to provide your full income details. If you are renting from a private landlord, the amount of housing benefit you are eligible for is calculated according to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules. LHA is calculated according to how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which area you live in. Enter your details on the gov.uk webpage to find out the rates for your postcode and also see Shelter's guidance for more information about LHA. If you are claiming Universal Credit, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice.

See the gov.uk website for more information about Child Tax CreditChild Benefit, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit

You might also be eligible for Income Support or Job Seeker’s Allowance, if you meet the usual eligibility rules for claiming these benefits, unless you are claiming Universal Credit. Whilst eligiblity for Income Support is automatic provided you meet the basic eligibility requirements, this is not the case for Job Seeker's Allowance or Universal Credit. You will need to demonstrate you can meet various work-related activity requirements as set out in an agreement, called the claimant commitment. Studying part-time may not exempt you from the requirement to be actively seeking work and the claimant commitment may require that you are available for work at all times. The amount of work-related activity you are expected to engage is different according to the age of your child. See the 'What Group for your personal circumstances?' section of the Citizen Advice Bureau claimant commitment webpage for more advice about this.  If you need help claiming these benefits, or appealing a refusal contact a Welfare Adviser.  

If you and/or your partner are working, you might be eligible for Working Tax Credit and, depending on your hours, some extra help from the childcare element of Working Tax Credit, unless you are claiming Universal Credit.

The gov.uk website explains more about Income SupportJob Seeker’s Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit

See the 'Claiming welfare benefits' section below for advice on how to claim individual benefits.

Postgraduate students in receipt of a grant or loan for living costs which could be a scholarship, stipend or Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL), will have any amount that is paid for tuition fees or course costs including books and equipment ignored as income in the assessment of their means-tested welfare benefits. However, any amount of grant or loan paid for living costs will be treated as income (except for the new Postgraduate Loan - see below).  You should divide the total amount of grant or loan over the period for which it is paid (the number of weeks of your course) to reach a weekly amount of grant or loan that will be treated as income within a benefit assessment. 

30% of the maximum Postgraduate Loan that you are eligible for under the new government Postgraduate Loans Scheme will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. We understand this means that if you choose not to take a Postgraduate Loan where you are eligible, this amount will still be taken int account.  

If you need advice about your benefit claim(s), contact a Welfare Adviser.

 

 

Claiming welfare benefits

How can I claim welfare benefits?

This section links to the individual gov.uk webpages which explain how to apply for the different benefits you might be eligible for:

Some of these benefits are income assessed and some are not. In the following sections we explain how your undergraduate or postgraduate income affects your benefit entitlement. We also highlight the importance of informing the benefits office(s) each time your circumstances change so you can avoid the risk of a benefit overpayment you will be asked to repay. You can adapt the letters in the 'Template welfare benefit letters' section below to help you notify the benefits office of changes in your circumstances.

Each time you make a claim for welfare benefits or you inform the benefits office of a change of circumstances, you should receive a notification showing the breakdown of your award. If you have been migrated onto Universal Credit, your eligiblity for benefits may change, Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your entitlement. 

 

How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?

How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?

Undergraduates

Your student finance Maintenance Loan (see below) will be counted as income in the assessment of your welfare benefits. All other elements of Student Finance are ignored as income, including the Parents’ Learning Allowance, the Childcare Grant, and if you are getting it, the Disabled Students Allowance. Queen Mary University Bursary payments are also ignored as income.  If you start your course from 2016 onwards and you meet the criteria for extra Maintenance Loan, a 'special support' loan element (up to £3,469 in 2016-17) is not taken into account as income by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when calculating your means-tested benefits. If you started your course prior to 2016 and get the Special Support Grant, this is also not counted as income in the assessment of your welfare benefits, but the Maintenance Grant is.

How will my Maintenance Loan be counted as income?

The Maintenance Loan (and Adult Dependants’ Grant if you are receiving this) will be counted as income for Income Support and Housing Benefit for 42 weeks (for weeks starting Monday/Saturday) or 43 weeks (for weeks starting Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday) of the year. We call these weeks ‘term-time’. However, not all of your Maintenance Loan is counted – amounts are disregarded for books and equipment (£390 in 2016/17) and for travel (£303 in 2016/17). Once these amounts have been deducted from your total annual Maintenance Loan, the remaining amount is divided by 42/43 (the number of ‘term-time’ weeks) and then a further £10 is deducted to produce an amount of Maintenance Loan which is counted as your weekly income in the benefit assessment.

‘Term-time’ has a specific meaning for Income Support and Housing Benefit:

  •  New students: ‘Term-time’ starts on the first day of your course and runs until the end of the last full week in June
  •  Continuing students: ‘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. As your student finance will not be paid for another three weeks but your benefit(s) will stop, you can apply to the QMUL Financial Assistance Fund (FAF) for help if this shortfall in funds will cause you financial hardship. See the Financial Help from QMUL section below for advice about applying to FAF.
  •  Final year students: ‘Term-time’ starts on the first day of the first full week in September and runs until the end of the week in which the academic year ends.

During the ‘summer period’ your student finance is not counted as income, so you will normally be eligible for maximum Income Support or Job Seeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit if you have no other income. The ‘summer period’ has a specific definition for Income Support and Housing Benefit, and broadly means July and August. Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice if you are claiming Universal Credit. 
 

NHS Bursary holders

If you are eligible for a means tested NHS Bursary, this plus any NHS Dependants Allowances and single parent addition will be counted as income for Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit over the whole year (52 weeks) because they are paid in monthly instalments.

The reduced rate Maintenance Loan which you will also receive in your NHS funded years will be treated in the same way as the full rate Maintenance Loan (see above).

Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice if you are claiming Universal Credit. 
 

What if I don’t get student finance or choose not to take it?

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 you might be able to claim Income Support or Job Seeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit under the standard benefit rules, depending on your circumstances. You can check with a Welfare Adviser.  

Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice if you are claiming Universal Credit. 

Postgraduates

Grant income

Grants for living costs (maintenance) and dependants’ grants are counted as income for the purpose of a benefit assessment. This includes grants, bursaries, studentships and scholarships from any source (e.g. from a Research Council, or the University).

Your total annual grant will be divided over the number of weeks for which it is paid, to reach a weekly amount of grant that will be treated as income within a benefit assessment. For example, if you receive a monthly stipend for 12 months, the total annual amount will be divided by 52 weeks. The following payments are ignored as income:

  • Disabled students’ allowance
  • Grants for tuition fees
  • Grants to pay for books and equipment

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL)

Any amount of PCDL that is paid to you for tuition fees or course costs is ignored as income for the purpose of a benefit assessment. Any amount of PCDL that is paid to you for living costs is treated as income. You should divide the total amount of loan over the period for which it is paid (the number of weeks of your course), to reach a weekly amount of loan that will be treated as income within a benefit assessment.

UK Government Postgraduate Loan

30% of the maximum Postgraduate Loan that you are eligible for under the new government Postgraduate Loans Scheme will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. We understand this means that if you choose not to take a Postgraduate Loan where you are eligible, this amount will still be taken int account.  

What if I don’t have any student income?

If you are a postgraduate who is does not have any student income, then you should be able to claim the maximum amounts of any benefits you are eligible for. However, if you don’t have any student income, but you are working part-time alongside your studies, your net weekly earnings are taken into account in the benefit assessment, although some of your earnings are disregarded including:

  • £25 for lone parents claiming Housing Benefit who are not claiming Income Support, income related Employment and Support Allowance, or income based Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • £20 for lone parents claiming Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • £10 for couples whether one or both are working

For Housing Benefit only, there are additional disregards:

  • From earnings: £17.10 for some people working 16/30 hours per week
  • From childcare costs: £175 (one child) / £300 (two or more children) for
    • lone parents who are working
    • couples who are both working
    • couples where one is working and one is incapacitated/in hospital/in prison

If you need advice about how your student income affects your welfare benefits, contact a Welfare Adviser. 

Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about how your student income affects your Universal Credit claim.

 

 

Changes of circumstances and overpayments

Changes of circumstances and overpayments

Welfare Benefits

Undergraduates

If you are an undergraduate student who is normally in receipt of welfare benefits, you need to notify each of the offices that pays your benefits separately when you first become a full student, when you cease being in full-time attendance at the beginning of the summer vacation period and when you start full-time attendance again in September. The reason for this is that your welfare benefits will need to be reassessed whenever your circumstances change, so you are not paid too little or too much benefit. Broadly speaking, undergraduate students should be eligible for full benefit during the summer vacation and reduced benefit during term time once your student finance has been treated as income.

You can adapt the letters in the next section 'Template Welfare Benefit letters' and send these to your benefit office(s) together with any other evidence  It is usually a good idea to keep copies of any letters you send or, if you hand them in to your local office, request a receipt confirming what you have handed in. If you are posting important documents, you might wish to consider using special delivery post so you can track delivery

Postgraduates

If you are a postgraduate student in receipt of a stipend or scholarship, you will only need to notify the benefit office of the date you start and stop becoming a full-time student. As you will not have a summer vacation, if you are eligible for benefits under the standard benefit rules and getting a stipend or scholarship, the amount should stay the same for the whole year.

You can adapt the letter in the next section 'Template Welfare Benefit letters' and send these to your benefit office(s). It is usually a good idea to keep copies of any letters you send or, if you hand them in to your local office, request a receipt confirming what you have handed in. If you are posting important documents, you might wish to consider using special delivery post so you can track delivery

Any student income you are receiving will be counted as income until the official end date of your programme. You will need to provide each of the offices that pay you benefits with written notification of your change of circumstances or submit new claim forms at the end of your programme, along with a letter to confirm the end date of your final academic year. You can get this from the Student Enquiry Centre, ground floor Queen’s Building, Mile End campus or from the Student Office at Whitechapel. Postgraduate research students should contact the Research Degrees Office, Queens Building room E15. 

Once you have started your course at QMUL, both undergraduate and postgraduate students can request a Certificate of Attendance letter from the Student Enquiry Centre, Ground Floor, Queen’s building, to provide to the relevant benefits office(s) as confirmation of course start and end dates. However, you will still need to provide evidence of your student finance notification, postgraduate stipend or scholarship so that an income assessment can be undertaken.

If you fail to notify a benefit office of a relevant change in your circumstances, this may result in an overpayment, which you might be asked to repay, once the error is identified. If you have a welfare benefit overpayment which you cannot afford to repay, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your options. There is also usually a strict one month deadline for challenging welfare benefit decisions, so it is important to get advice as soon as possible.

Student Finance

If you decide to interrupt your studies close to a student finance or stipend payment period, you might accrue an overpayment of student finance or other funding you will be asked to repay. For advice about your options, see our advice guides:

If you need to interrupt your studies, but cannot get out of your childcare contract, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your options.

 

Template welfare benefit letters

Template welfare benefit letters

As we explain in the previous section, you need to notify each of the benefit offices which pay your benefits whenever your circumstances change, so that your benefit can be correctly reassessed and to minimise the risk you will have an overpayment you will be asked to repay - see the template letters below which you can adapt to your individual circumstances.

If you will not be receiving any student finance or other student income, you will still need to let the benefit office know when become a full-time student as this will constitute a change of circumstances.

If you are an undergraduate, will need to notify the benefits office at three points:

  • when you start your course at QMUL as a new student
  • when you start your summer vacation
  • when you resume your course in September

If you are a postgraduate, you will only need to notify the benefits office when you start your course at QMUL as a new student. As we explain in the previous 'Changes of circumstances and overpayments' section, postgraduate students will not have a summer vacation so their benefit entitlement should stay the same throughout the year. 

In addition to the above-mentioned periods, it is helpful for both undergraduate and postgraduate students to inform each of the offices that pay their benefits if they interrupt their studies and also once they finish their course. The Student Enquiry Centre, Ground Floor, Queen's Buillding can provide letters confirming an interruption or completion of course. 

If you are an undergraduate student interrupting your studies, you are not eligible for student finance beyond the date of your interruption. However, if you interrupt due to health grounds, you should automatically receive an extra 60 days' of student finance. If you have compelling personal reasons for interrupting, it may be possible for you to receive extra student finance in addtion to the standard entitlement or beyond the extra 60 days. There is more information about applying for discretionary student finance in our 'Resitting, interrupting, leaving your course' advice guide. Contact a Welfare Adviser if you need advice about interrupting your studies and/or applying for discretionary funding. 

If you are a postgraduate student who needs to interrupt, see our 'Postgraduate Funding advice guide for more information.

Here are three template letters you can personalise according to your individual circumstances. Where you see a * you will need to choose one option and delete the others according to your circumstances. eg: Re: Universal Credit claim of John Smith.  If you are getting two different benefits eg. Income Support and Housing Benefit, you will need to write two separate letters to the Income Support and Housing Benefit offices. 

1. New student letter (to be sent just before you enrol on your course)

(Insert date here) 

(Insert your claim reference number here)

Dear Sir/Madam

Re. Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate) claim of (insert your name and address)

I am writing to inform you of a relevant change in my circumstances. I will become a full time student on (insert your enrolment date here) at Queen Mary University of London. I will be getting student income in the form of (give the name e.g. Student Finance or a University Studentship). I have attached a copy of my funding entitlement letter*/I will send you a copy of my funding entitlement letter as soon as I receive it* (*delete as appropriate). 

Although I am aware that most full time students cannot claim welfare benefits, I understand that I fall into one of the excepted groups of students who can claim and I retain an underlying eligibility for Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate). However, I also understand that some of my student income may be taken into account and that my Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate) entitlement may be affected. 

I would therefore be grateful if you could reassess my Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate) entitlement accordingly. 

Please let me know if you require any further information

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours faithfully

 

2. Vacation letter (to be sent just before the start of the summer vacation)

(Insert date here) 

(Insert your claim reference number here) 

Dear Sir/Madam

Re. Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate) claim of (insert your name and address here)

 I am writing to inform you of a relevant change of circumstances. My academic year has ended and I will not receive any Student Finance income during the summer vacation. I am therefore writing to ask you to reassess my entitlement to Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate) for the period immediately following the last full week in June until the first day of the first full week in September.

Thank you for your assistance.

Please let me know if you need any further information.

Yours faithfully

 

3. September letter (to be sent just before you resume your course)

(insert date here) 

(insert your claim reference number here)

Dear Sir/Madam

Re. Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate) claim of (insert your name and address)

I am writing to inform you of a relevant change of circumstances. I am returning to the (insert your year here, e.g. 2nd/3rd/4th) academic year of my course on (insert date here). I will be receiving Student Finance income again and I understand that this will be counted in my Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (*delete as appropriate) assessment from the first day of the first full week in September until the end of the week in which my academic year ends - see the attached Certificate of Enrolment which confirms my year start and end dates (attach your Certificate of Enrolment which you can get from the Student Enquiry Centre).  

My Maintenance Loan will be (insert amount here) and I have attached a copy of my Student Finance entitlement letter*/I will send you a copy of my Student Finance notification letter as soon as I receive it* (*delete as appropriate).

Please reassess my Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/Universal Credit* (delete as appropriate) claim accordingly.

Please let me know if you need any further information. 

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours faithfully

It is usually a good idea to send your letters a week or two before your actual change of circumstances so that your welfare benefit claims can be (re)assessed in a timely way.

If you need advice about notifying the benefit office(s) of a change in circumstances, contact a Welfare Adviser. 

 

Financial help from QMUL

Financial help from QMUL

Students with children are normally expected to cover their essential living costs through student finance, welfare benefits, employment or their own funding. However, if you are experiencing financial hardship, you can apply to the QMUL Financial Assistance Fund (FAF) for financial assistance for some help meeting your additional costs.This could include:

  • Students who have just had a new baby
  • Undergraduate students with children whose welfare benefit entitlement ceases on 1 September but they will not get their first student finance payment until 3 weeks later – FAF can usually help make up this shortfall in funds
  • Postgraduate students with children who have made provision to cover their tuition fees, living costs and childcare for the duration of their course but something unexpected has happened to disrupt their funding

There may be other circumstances where FAF could help with a shortfall in funding. A Welfare Adviser can advise you about your options and help you make your application. To apply to FAF, you would need to complete an application form you can download here or, you can collect one from the Student Enquiry Centre, Ground Floor, Queens Building or from the Advice and Counselling Service reception.

As part of your application, you will need to submit copies of documents such as student finance notification letters, welfare benefit award letters and other funding documents. To avoid unnecessary delays in the processing of your FAF application, it might be helpful for you to collate all your documents in one place, where you can easily access them. You might also find it helpful to read the FAF guidance.

The fund cannot help pay tuition fees.

If you are an undergraduate medical or dental student, there are additional hardship funds you may be eligible to apply for. See our Funding for Medical and Dental Students advice guide for more information.

If you are normally in receipt of student finance, NHS funding,a scholarship or stipend and your funding is temporarily delayed or disrupted, you may be able to apply for a short term or emergency loan from QMUL. See the Additional Sources of Funding advice guide for more information or contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your options.

 

Childcare

Childcare

We have written a Childcare advice guide which explains childcare options for students with children including advice about covering the cost of childcare. 

Budgeting

Budgeting

Bringing up children can be expensive so planning your finances to help you stay within your budget can help you manage your extra child-related costs. Our online budgeting resouces includes spreadsheets you can personalise with your monthly income and expenditure, which has fields for your student income as well as any welfare benefits you are getting.

Contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like any help with budgeting.