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Full time students and benefits - Who is a full-time student for benefit purposes?

Find out more about the definition of a full-time student for benefit purposes and whether you can claim any benefits or tax credits

Who is a full-time student for benefit purposes?

Most full-time students are excluded from claiming means-tested benefits.

There are different rules about students’ entitlement to benefits depending on whether you are applying under the Universal Credit system or under the rules for the benefits Universal Credit replaces.

Who is a full-time Student for Universal Credit

Most full-time students cannot claim Universal Credit, but there are some exceptions.

Universal Credit will treat you as a student if:

  •   You are on a full time (as defined by your university or college) course that will lead to a
    • Degree or
    • Postgraduate degree or
    • Higher national diploma
  • OR You are on a course that gives you a loan or grant for maintenance
  • OR You are doing a course that allows someone to claim Child Benefit for you
  • OR You have claimant commitments and you are doing a course which is not compatible with your claimant commitments.

You carry on being counted as a student during the holidays.

Who is a full-time Student for Other Means-tested Benefits?

For Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, whether you are a full-time student depends on your age and the level of the course.

You are a full-time student if:



  • You are aged 19 or over and on a full-time course of study at any level, unless you are aged under 20 and can still be treated as in relevant education.

You count as a student from the first day until the last day of the course or if you do not complete it, until the day you are dismissed from or abandon the course. This means that you count as a student even during holidays and when taking time out from studying, unless certain circumstances apply. (See Time out from study within this guide.)

Students with Partners

If you are a full-time student and you live with a partner who is not a student, they may be able to claim means-tested benefits for you both. Some of your student support may be taken into account.

Reviewed : November 2021

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