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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.


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 in the Code of Practice and Academic Regulations - What's changed 2017/18. 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.


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 2018, 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 2018-19 is £12,382 (if you live away from home and study in London) and £8,640 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 Masters Loan of up to:

  • £10,609 for students starting in 2018-19
  • £10,280 for students starting in 2017-18
  • £10,000 for students starting in 2016-17

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 Benefit, Housing 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 Allowance, Working 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 2018 onwards and you meet the criteria for extra Maintenance Loan, a 'special support' loan element (up to £3,680 in 2018-19) 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 (except for a UK government Masters Loan - see next paragraph) 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.

The UK government Masters Loan is treated as a contribution towards costs rather than a loan exclusively for tuition fees or living costs. 30% of the maximum Masters Loan that you are eligible for will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. This means that if you choose not to take a Masters Loan where you are eligible, this amount will still be taken into account as income and will reduce your welfare benefits entitlement.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, see the accordion sections below, 'Universal Credit' and 'How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?' for more information.

 


Government student support

Undergraduates

If you start your course on or after September 2018, 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 2018-19 is £12,382 (if you live away from home and study in London) and £8,640 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 may be eligible for a UK government Masters Loan of:

  • £10,609 for students starting in 2018-19
  • £10,280 for students starting in 2017-18
  • £10,000 for students starting in 2016-17

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 or loan 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 Masters 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.

The Masters Loan is treated as a contribution towards costs rather than as a loan exclusively for tuition fees or living costs. 30% of the maximum Masters Loan that you are eligible for under the Masters 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 Masters Loan where you are eligible, this amount will still be taken into 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 Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit

If you start your course from 2018 onwards and you meet the criteria for extra Maintenance Loan, a 'special support' loan element (up to £3,680 in 2018-19) 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.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, see the accordion sections below, 'Universal Credit' and 'How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?' for more information.


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 2018, 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 2018-19 is £12,382 (if you live away from home and study in London) and £8,640 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 UK government Masters Loan of up to:

  • £10,609 for students starting in 2018-19
  • £10,280 for students starting in 2017-18
  • £10,000 for students starting in 2016-17

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 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 (except for the UK government Masters 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.

The Masters Loan is treated as a contribution towards course costs rather than as a loan exclusively for tution fees or living costs. 30% of the maximum Masters Loan that you are eligible for will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. We understand this means that if you choose not to take a Masters 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 Universal 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 Allowance, Working 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 £3,680in 2018/19) 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.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, see the accordion sections below, 'Universal Credit' and 'How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?' for more information.


Undergraduate students

QMUL does not currently offer part-time undergraduate courses. However, QMUL postgraduates can opt to undertake part-time study from the outset, which enables them to successfully combine study, work and childcare.  Also, if you begin a course in full-time mode, your academic school may allow you to switch 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.  for advice about how switching to a part-time mode of study will impact on your studnet finance and your academic school for advice about your academic options. 

Postgraduate students

If you are a home/EU postgraduate student you might be eligible for a total UK government Masters Loan of up to:

  • £10,609 for students starting in 2018-19
  • £10,280 for students starting in 2017-18
  • £10,000 for students starting in 2016-17

The total loan will be paid in three instalments across each academic year of your course. For all courses except some distance learning courses, QMUL Fees Office will align loan payments with Masters loan payments from Student Finance England. However, if your loan payments will not cover the total tuition fee instalment you owe, you will need to make up the difference. 

There there is no provision in the new scheme for additional supplementary grants to help cover child-related costs. See our  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.

There is more information about changes to your studies, including about tuition fee liability 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 Credit, Child 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 Support, Job 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 Masters 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.

The UK government Masters Loan is treated as a contribution towards course costs rather than as a loan exclusively for tuition fees or living costs. 30% of the maximum Masters Loan that you are eligible for will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits. We understand this means that if you choose not to take a Masters 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.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, see the accordion sections below, 'Universal Credit' and 'How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?' for more information.


Claiming welfare benefits as a full or part-time student can sometimes be difficult as this is a complex area of welfare benefit legislation, so do not hesitate to contact a Welfare Adviser for advice at any stage of the process including applying, delays, overpayments, suspensions and appealing negative decisions. There is usually a time limit of one month for you provide new information or appeal a decision so get advice as soon as possible. Once you have checked the accordion pages which are relevant to your circumstances above, if you think you may be eligible for one or more welfare benefits, these links will take you to the individual gov.uk webpages which explain how to apply for the different benefits:

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. If you are claiming Universal Credit, do not send our template letters but contact your individual casework manager and follow their instructions regarding notifying them of any change 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 or, if you are getting Universal Credit, your new entitlement should be visible in your online account.  If you have been migrated onto Universal Credit, your eligiblity for benefits may change. You can contact a Welfare Adviser at any time for advice about your entitlement.


Universal Credit is a new means-tested benefit that will eventually replace the following current means-tested benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit;
  • Housing Benefit;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance;
  • Income Support; and
  • Working Tax Credit

Other benefits (e.g. Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment) will remain largely unchanged by the new system. Universal Credit is being phased in over time (see below) and the current benefits will not disappear for some years.

Timetable for Universal Credit

Universal Credit was introduced in April 2013 in a small number of pilot areas. To start with, only people with straightforward circumstances living in selected postcode areas were able to claim. It is expected to take some years for Universal Credit to be rolled-out completely and during this time, it will gradually become available in more areas and to more claimants with different circumstances. It will affect you if you live in one of these areas and make a new claim. Once you have claimed Universal Credit, you will stay on Universal Credit even if you move to an area which has not yet fully rolled-out Universal Credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are operating two computer systems to roll-out Universal Credit. The first of these, the more basic, is referred to as ‘live’ service and can only handle more straightforward cases. The other system is known as either the ‘digital’ or the ‘full’ service and all Universal Credit claims will operate on this service once it is fully rolled out. This means that claims for Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will continue to be accepted until they are phased out. The current plans estimate this to be sometime between now and 2022.

Who can claim Universal Credit?


To check whether you are eligible to claim Universal Credit, based on your circumstances, go to www.gov.uk/guidance/jobcentres-where-you-can-claim-universal-credit There is an online web tool you can use to find out whether you can claim Universal Credit in your area at http://universalcreditinfo.net/

Transitional Protection

Transitional Protection is an extra 'transitional' amount of benefit which will be available to some benefit claimants who are migrated onto Universal Credit. However, this will only be available from July 2019 and to some claimants whose circumstances have not changed, to help make up the difference between the old and the new amount of benefit they receive. If you were already claiming welfare benefits prior to starting at QMUL, then becoming a full or part-time student, notifying the benefits office of a change in your income during the summer vacation or that you have interrupted your studies could all constitute a relevant change in circumstances, in which case you would not qualify for transitional protection. Similarly, if you were not previously claiming welfare benefits but make a new claim as a full or part time student at any point during the academic year, this may also be treated as a change of circumstances, so you would not qualify for transitional protection.

If you are migrated onto Universal Credit due to a change in circumstances and the amount of benefit you receive is less than previously, you will not get any extra 'top up' to your benefits. If this causes you financial hardship, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about your options. See the 'Transitional Protection' pages on the turn2us website for more information.

Who can claim Universal Credit?

To be eligible for Universal Credit, must meet certain basic qualifying conditions applicable to most welfare benefits. In addition, you must not be in educationunless

  • You are responsible for a child, or;
  • You are entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and you have been assessed as having a limited capability for work. This means that you would have met the limited capability for work rules of ESA, or:
  • You have regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person, or;
  • You have taken time out from your course because of illness or caring responsibilites which have ended and you are waiting to return to your course but you are not eligible for a grant or a loan.

In addition, you (and your partner if you are making a ‘joint claim’) must not have capital of more than £16,000 and any earnings or income you have must not be too high for any Universal Credit to be paid.

How do you claim?

You can claim Universal Credit online https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.
Alternatively you can claim by phone:
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743

Joint claims

If you have a partner (including a same-sex partner), you must normally make a ‘joint claim’ for Universal Credit. In a joint claim, you and your partner must usually meet all the basic qualifying conditions above. However, you and your partner may still be entitled to Universal Credit as joint claimants if one of you is over pension credit qualifying age or in full-time education (as long as you both satisfy all the other basic qualifying conditions).

Your responsibilities

To qualify for Universal Credit, you usually need to meet certain extensive work-related conditions, known as ‘requirements’. These are recorded in a claimant commitment’. You are likely to incur sanctions (where your Universal Credit is reduced or cancelled) if you fail to meet a work-related requirement. But in certain circumstances none of the work-related requirements will apply to you and this could make studying and claiming Universal Credit possible.

When do none of the work-related requirements apply?

In certain circumstances, none of the work-related requirements will apply to you. This will be the case if you:

  • are responsible for a child under the age of one; or are responsible for a child or qualifying young person and you are getting Student Finance as a full time student (but during the summer period you will need to meet work requirements); or
  • have been assessed in the work capability assessment as having a ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’; or
  • have regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person.

The work capability assessment finds out if you are entitled to the ‘work capability element’ and at which rate and what work-related requirements you must meet to keep receiving the benefit in full. For Universal Credit, the same assessment as for ESA is used to find out which rate of the ‘work capability element’ you are entitled to and exactly what restrictions can be applied to your work-related responsibilities.

The support group

If you are put in this group, you do not have to undertake work-related activities (although you can volunteer to do so if you want). You will receive a higher rate of Universal Credit than claimants who are put in the work-related activity group.

The work-related activity group

If you are put in this group, you have to adhere to strict work-related conditions in order to continue receiving the benefit in full. This will include attending work-focused interviews and possibly undertaking work-related activities.

The work-related requirements

There are four different types of requirement:

  • work-focused interview requirement;
  • work-preparation requirement;
  • work-search requirement; and
  • work availability requirement.

Your circumstances will determine which of these applies to you.

The work-focused interview requirement

This is a requirement that you take part in one or more work-focused interviews. These are designed to assess your prospects and assist or encourage you to move into or stay in work.

The work-preparation requirement

This is a requirement that you take action to improve your chances of getting work. This can include taking part in training or an employment programme or undertaking work experience.

The work-search requirement

Here you are required to take all reasonable action to obtain paid work (or more work if you are already working part time). This can include:

  • searching for work;
  • applying for jobs;
  • creating and maintaining an online profile;
  • registering with employment agencies; and
  • seeking references.

You will be expected to search for work for a minimum amount of time each week. This is usually set at a minimum of 35 hours, although the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may agree to a reduced time if you have caring responsibilities or a physical or mental impairment or if you are already working part-time.

The work-availability requirement

You are normally required to be able and willing to take up paid work (or more work if you are already working part time) immediately; you must also be able and willing to attend a job interview immediately. However, the DWP can allow you up to one month to take up paid work, and up to 48 hours to attend a job interview, if you are caring for a child or someone with a ‘physical or mental impairment’, so that you can make alternative care arrangements. The DWP can allow you up to one week to take up paid work, and up to 48 hours to attend a job interview, if you are carrying out voluntary work. Where your ‘physical or mental impairment has a substantial adverse effect’ on your ability to carry out work of a particular nature or in a particular place, you cannot be expected to be available for such work or in such a place.

How much is Universal Credit?

The amount of Universal Credit you are paid depends on your circumstances. It is worked out on a monthly basis by comparing your financial needs with your financial resources. Set amounts for different financial needs are added together to arrive at a figure called your ‘maximum amount’. This is the basic amount the law says you need to live on each month. From this figure amounts are deducted for any earnings and other income you receive (see below). The resulting amount will be your universal credit for that month. This may be restricted by the ‘benefit cap’.

The maximum amount

The maximum amount is made up of a ‘standard allowance’ and ‘elements’, paid to cover different needs. The elements are:

  • child element;
  • housing costs element;
  • work capability element;
  • carer element;
  • childcare costs element. (Most full time student claim the Chidcare Grant from SFE as this pays towards childcare costs to enable you to study. The CCE only pays towards childcare costs to enable you to work).

There is a useful breakdown of Universal Credit rates on the entitledto.co.uk website but we have also set them out here:

The standard allowance

This is the basic allowance (per month), which is always included in your maximum amount. The amount you are entitled to depends on your age and whether you are claiming as a single person or jointly:

  • single claimant aged under 25 - £251.77
  • single claimant aged 25 or over - £317.82
  • joint claimants both aged under 25 - £395.20
  • joint claimants where either is aged 25 or over - £498.89

Earnings

The calculation of your earnings is based on a net figure after tax, national insurance contributions and any contribution you make to an occupational or personal pension scheme have been deducted. Employer-paid benefits (such as statutory sick pay or statutory maternity pay) are treated as earnings. In some circumstance, you may be allowed to keep some of your earnings up to a certain limit before your universal credit is affected; this is known as the ‘work allowance’. Earnings in excess of the work allowance that applies in your case will reduce your Universal Credit by 65 pence in the pound.

Income other than earnings

If you have income other than earnings, such as other benefits, these will usually be taken into account in full, so that your Universal Credit is reduced pound for pound. Some benefits are disregarded in full, for example Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment. Student finance is counted but certain elements are disregarded.

Capital and savings

Universal Credit has a ‘lower capital limit’ and an ‘upper capital limit’. If you have savings or capital over the upper limit of £16,000, you cannot get Universal Credit. This figure applies if you are claiming as a single claimant or as a couple. If you have savings or capital at or below the lower limit of £6,000, your Universal Credit is unaffected. If your capital is between these limits, it is treated as generating a monthly income of £4.35 for each £250 (or part of £250) above the lower limit of £6,000. For instance, if you have capital of £6,300, it is treated as generating a monthly income of £8.70.

The elements

The child element

This (monthly amount) is included in your maximum amount if you are responsible for a child or qualifying young person who normally lives with you:

  • first or eldest child or qualifying young person - £277.08
  • each other child or qualifying young person - £231.67

A ‘qualifying young person’ is someone aged 16 to 18 (or 19 in some cases) who has enrolled on (or been accepted for) a course of full-time non-advanced education or approved training, who is not getting an existing means-tested benefit (such as Income-related Employment and Support Allowance) or Universal Credit themselves. An additional amount is included for each child or qualifying young person who is disabled. It is set at two different levels:

  • a higher rate - £372.30 for a child/qualifying young person who is entitled to the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or who is certified as severely sight impaired or blind; and
  • a lower rate - £126.11 for a child who is entitled to any other rate of DLA or PIP

If you have more than two children, your benefit may be restricted. The gov.uk webpage explains more about restrictions for claimants with more than two children.

The work capability element

This is paid a two different levels as a monthly amount. It is included in your maximum amount if you have:

  • a limited capability for work - £126.11; or
  • a limited capability for work and work-related activity - £328.32

The tests for these are the same as those for the work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance (the ‘limited capability for work’ and ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ assessments).

The carer element

A carer element of £156.45 is included in your maximum monthly amount if you have ‘regular and substantial caring responsibilities’ for a severely disabled person. You are considered to have such responsibilities if you are eligible for Carer’s Allowance, although you do not have to actually claim that allowance. You are not normally entitled to this element as well as the work capability element (see above) if you would otherwise be eligible for both; only the highest paid element will be included in your maximum amount. However, if you have a limited capability for work and your partner is a carer, both elements could be payable.

The childcare costs element

This will be included in your maximum amount if you pay for registered child care in order to stay in work. There is no set number of hours you need to work to get this element. You will get 85% of your relevant childcare costs met, up to a maximum monthly amount of:

  • £646.35 for one child; and
  • £1108.04 for two or more children

If you are claiming jointly, your partner must also be in paid work, unless they are unable to look after the child because they:

  • have a limited capability for work;
  • have regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person; or
  • are temporarily absent from your household (ie are in prison, hospital or a care home).

Generally the childcare must be provided by someone who is registered for child care or an equivalent. Relevant childcare is not care provided by a close relative of the child wholly or mainly in the child’s home. You cannot get both the child care costs element of Universal Credit and the Chilcare Grant (CCG) from Student Finance.

If you have more than two children, your benefit may be restricted. The gov.uk webpage explains more about restrictions for claimants with more than two children.

The housing costs element

A housing costs element may be included in your maximum amount if you pay rent or have a mortgage. The element can also cover certain service charges related to these payments.

Private tenants

If you are a private tenant, your housing costs element will depend on where your home is situated and the number of rooms you are deemed to need in the same way as the current housing benefit scheme. Deductions will be made if you have non-dependants living with you (these do not include your spouse or parnter but are are other adults that are not full-time students). The rules are similar to those in the current Housing Benefit scheme.

Social housing tenants

If you are renting social housing (from your local authority or from a housing association), your housing costs element may be reduced if the property you rent is considered to be under occupied. Deductions will be made if you have non-dependants living with you. If you are in ‘specified accommodation’ (e.g. a refuge if you are fleeing domestic violence or accommodation where care, support or supervision is provided to you), your housing support will continue to be met through Housing Benefit rather than Universal Credit.

Owner-occupiers

If you own your home, the housing costs element may cover mortgage interest on loans secured on your property. There is normally a ceiling of £200,000 on the amount of loan that can be covered; this does not apply in the case of any loan taken out for the purpose of adapting your property to the needs of a disabled person. There will normally be a ‘qualifying period’ of nine months before the element can be included in your Universal Credit award. You will not be entitled to the element if you are in paid work.

Discretionary housing payments

You may be able to get ‘discretionary housing payments’ (DHPs) if your Universal Credit does not cover all your housing costs and your local authority accepts that you require some further financial assistance. You must claim a DHP from your local authority; most local authorities will have a form on which to claim. You can find these by searching at www.gov.uk/government/publications/discretionary-housing-payments-guidance-manual

The work allowance

Some of your earnings may be disregarded by applying a ‘work allowance’. This will only apply if you or your partner:

  • are responsible for one or more children or qualifying young people (see above); or
  • have a limited capability for work (see above).

There are two different rates:

  • a lower work allowance’ of £198; and
  • a higher work allowance’ of £409

The lower work allowance will apply if a housing costs element is included in your maximum amount (see above). If a housing costs element is not included in your maximum amount, the higher work allowance will apply instead. In each case, the same rate will apply whether you are a single claimant or claiming jointly with your partner. These are monthly figures.

The benefit cap

There is a cap on the total amount of benefits, including Universal Credit that you can claim
The benefit cap within Greater London is:

  • £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
  • £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re single and your children live with you
  • £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year) if you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you 

See the gov.uk webpage for more information on the benefit cap.

The benefit cap will not apply if you, your partner or a dependent child are getting certain benefits, including Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. It will also not apply if the higher level of the work capability element has been included in your Universal Credit award.

If you have more than two children, your benefit may be restricted. The gov.uk webpage explains more about restrictions for claimants with more than two children.

Payment of Universal Credit

Normally, your Universal Credit is paid in arrears as a single payment each month. If you have a partner; you can choose who receives the payment. Alternative payment arrangements (e.g. bi-monthly payments) would only be made if the DWP considered that you could not manage with a single monthly payment; such arrangements would usually only be made for a temporary period. If all the work-related requirements apply to you, you will usually have to wait for seven days (the ‘waiting period’) before you are eligible to be paid Universal Credit. For more infomation see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-you

Student income and Universal Credit

If you or your partner have student income, it may count as income for Universal Credit. Student loans for maintenance count as income if you could get a loan by taking 'reasonable steps', even if you chose not to apply for one. The maximum loan you could be entitled to is taken into account as income even where your partner's income reduces the amount of maintenance loan you are eligible for. This is also the case if the loan is reduced because of assessed parental contribution, or if part of the loan is replaced by a grant. See the entitledto webpage for more information about this. 

However, if you are entitled to the special support element this element should be disregarded. A Special Support Grant should also be disregarded. If you are in receipt of a UK government Masters Loan, as this is paid as a contribution towards costs rather than specifically for tuition fees or living costs, 30% of this will be treated as income in a Universal Credit benefit assessment - see the next accordion page 'How will my student income affect the amount of welfare benefits I get?' for more information.

Universal Credit is paid for 'an assessment period' of one month. Student income counts as income in assessment periods that fall during the course as well as the assessment period in which the course begins. Student income is ignored in the assessment period in which the last week of the course or the start of the summer vacation falls. Student income is also ignored in any other assessment period that falls completeley within the summer vacation. In each assessment period £110 of student income is ignored. Here is an example of a calculation for a new student starting in 2018/19 who has made a new claim for Universal Credit:

Work out how much of your student income is taken into account:

  1. Calculate your annual loan or grant (minus the special support element or SSG) or (30% for the Masters Loan)
  2. Work out how many assessment periods apply for the year. For most undergraduate students in 2018/19 the academic year starts on 24th September and ends on 8th June for welfare benefit purposes. This means the assessment period would start on 24th September to 23rd October and 7 periods would count student income in the calculation. From 23rd May until the start of the next acaedmic year on 23rd September, no student income would count.
  3. Divide your annual student income from step one by the number of assessment periods in step 2.
  4. Deduct £110

If your loan is £12,382, minus a special support element of £3,680, this leaves £8,702 which is divded by 7 = £1243.14 - £110 = £1,133.14. Universal Credit would be calculated on £1,133.14 a month from 24th September 2018 to 23rd May 2019. Zero would be counted from 23rd May until 23rd September.

To work out how much Universal Credit you might get, you then add up the standard allowance (single or joint, under or over 25) and add the elements you qualify for such as 'the child element' and 'the housing costs element' (relevant caps apply). The difference between your counted income and your standard allowance plus elements should be the amount of Universal Credit you can recieve in each monthly assessment period.

If you were previously claiming Universal Credit prior to starting your studies at QMUL, then your assessment period is likely to be different as your claim would have an earlier start date than 24th September. As Universal Credit calcluations can be complicated, you can request that your Universal Credit caswork manager provides you with a written explanation of how your award has been calculated. You need to request this within one month of receiving that month's award notification. Once you receive your caseworker's explanation, if you still have questions,  who can check your Universal Credit award is correct.


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 2018 onwards and you meet the criteria for extra Maintenance Loan, a 'special support' loan element (up to £3,680 in 2018/19) 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 2018/19) and for travel (£303 in 2018/19). 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.

For Universal Credit the maximum amount of maintenance loan you are eligible for is taken into account as income even where you have not applied for it, chosen not to take it or where the amount you are actually eligible for has been reduced due to assessed parents' or partner's income.  See the previous accordion section 'Universal Credit' for more information about Universal Credit. There is also helpful information on the entitledto webpages. Contact a Welfare Adviser if you need more advice.

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).

If you are claiming Universal Credit, see the previous accordion section 'Universal Credit'. Contact a Welfare Adviser if you need more advice.

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

If you are eligible for student finance/NHS Bursary, 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.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, the maximum amount of maintenance loan/NHS Bursary you are eligible for is taken into account as income even where you have not applied for it, chosen not to take it or where the amount you are actually eligible for has been reduced due to assessed parents' or partner's income.  See the previous accordion section 'Universal Credit' for more information. There is also helpful information on the entitledto webpages if you need more advice.

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 Masters Loan

As the UK government Masters Loan is paid as a contribution to overall course costs rather than specifically for tuition fees or living costs, 30% of the maximum Masters Loan that you are eligible for will be taken into account as income for your means-tested benefits by the benefits office. We understand this means that if you choose not to take a Masters 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 
  • £20 for a student who gets a disabilty premium 
  • £20 for a student who gets a carer's premium 
  • £10 for couples whether one or both are working
  • £5 for single students

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.

 


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. If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, as this is designed to be an online system, you should contact your indvidual casework manager in writing and upload any relevant documents via your online account to advise them of any change in your circumstances.

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.

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, you should notifiy your casework manager in writing of any change in your circumstances and upload any relevant documents via your online account.

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.


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 are claiming Universal Credit, you should notify your individual casework manager and upload the letter(s) into your online journal.

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. 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.

**Do not use these letters if you are claiming Universal Credit but contact your casework manager and follow their instructions regarding notifying them of changes to your circumstances**

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*/LHA*/Income Support*(*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 24th September 2018 at Queen Mary University of London. I will be getting student income in the form of (give the name e.g. Student Finance Maintenance Loan/Masters Loan 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*/LHA*/Income Support* (*delete as appropriate). However, I also understand that some of my student income may be taken into account and that my Housing Benefit*/LHA*/Income Support* (*delete as appropriate) entitlement may be affected.

I would therefore be grateful if you could reassess my Housing Benefit*/LHA*/Income Support* (*delete as appropriate) entitlement and let me know if you need any further information from me.

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*/LHA*/Income Support*(*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 between 25th June and 3rd September 2018. I am therefore writing to ask you to reassess my entitlement to Housing Benefit*/LHA*/Income Support*(*delete as appropriate) for the summer period.

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*/LHA*/Income Support*(*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 24th September 2018. I will be receiving Student Finance income again and I understand that this will be counted in my Housing Benefit*/Income Support*/LHA* (*delete as appropriate) assessment from 3rd September 2018 onwards - 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/Masters 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*/LHA*(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.


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.


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


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 resources 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.

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