Universal Credit treats student maintenance loans and some grants as ‘unearned income’

Universal Credit treats student maintenance loans and some grants as ‘unearned income’

Can students claim benefits?

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There are very few circumstances where you can claim government benefits as a student. If you’re on benefits and want to study a degree, most unis have money advice or welfare services. You can also contact organisations like Turn2us, a UK charity that provides practical help for those struggling financially. In Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has useful information (see AskCPAG and search for students’).

You may be eligible to get support from the UK Government’s Universal Credit benefit scheme for example, if you’re responsible for a child. If you’re already on a ‘legacy benefit’ (one that’s being stopped), this is due to changes to Universal Credit by 2024. If you’re claiming a legacy benefit but your circumstances change during this period, you may be moved immediately to Universal Credit.

You’ll be assessed on the full amount of maintenance loan you’re entitled to, even if you choose not to take it. Parents’ Learning Allowance and the Childcare Grant aren’t counted as income.

Jobseeker’s Allowance isn’t normally available to students unless, for example, they’re a single parent and can’t work during the summer vacation.

If you’re a disabled student and need help with personal care or mobility, you can claim personal independence payments. However, if your health improves during your course, your eligibility may be reassessed.

Grants for students supporting family

If you’re a UK resident on a low income and you financially support another adult or a child, you may be eligible for a government grant. There are three types of dependants’ grants:

  • Adult Dependants’ Grant
  • Childcare Grant
  • Parent’s Learning Allowance (Scotland differs slightly)

The money doesn’t need to be paid back unless you leave your course early, or, for grants based on your income, if you’ve been overpaid. You must be a full-time undergraduate or on a teacher-training course (ITT or PGCE). The financial support you get depends on your income. You’ll need to provide copies of relevant documents to confirm your finances at the end of the academic year.

Adult Dependants’ Grant

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Known as a ‘Dependants’ Grant’ in Scotland, you can get the Adult Dependants’ Grant if you’re financially responsible for another adult. This is normally someone you’re married to or a partner (if you’re under 25, this must be a civil partnership). It doesn’t include grown-up children. You can’t apply if the other adult is also getting student finance.

In you may get ?2,640?3,263 depending on which UK nation you’re a resident in. The amount depends on your income, including that of your adult dependant. If they have an annual income of ?3,796?3,923 (depending on which nation you’re based in), or if you receive an NHS bursary, you won’t be eligible. Other government grants might affect how much you get, but the money you receive won’t affect what student finance you’re entitled to.

To get the Adult Dependants’ Grant, you have to apply to the student finance body for where you live. You must do this before the cut-off date for student finance and give evidence of your household income. The money will be paid directly into your bank account at the start of each term. Remember to update your student finance body if your circumstances change or you may have to pay money back.

Childcare Grant

In England, Wales and payday loans direct lender Okmulgee Northern Ireland, you can get a Childcare Grant if you have children who are financially dependant on you, and you pay for their childcare costs. They must be under 15 years old, or under 17 if they have special educational needs.

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