Universal Credit: Can students claim Universal Credit?

Claims for Universal Credit have increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Universal Credit has replaced a number of previous government benefits and is intended to help people who cannot work or who have a low income with financial support. Here’s how you may be able to receive Universal Credit if you are currently a student.

Can students claim Universal Credit?

Most people who are studying full-time usually cannot receive Universal Credit, but there are some exceptions to this.

Wherever you are studying for your course or qualification will determine whether the course you are on is considered full-time or part-time.

If you are studying full-time, the government website explains you may be able to get Universal Credit if any of the following circumstances apply to you:


  • Tax Credits warning: Renewals must be done by end of month
  • You’re aged 21 or under, in full-time non-advanced education and do not have parental support.
  • You’re responsible for a child.
  • You live with your partner and they’re eligible for Universal Credit.
  • You’ve reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit and live with a partner who is under that age.
  • You’re disabled and have limited capability for work and are getting Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment.

People who are studying at university for their first degree or a postgraduate degree are considered to be completing a course of advanced education, rather than non-advanced education as the Universal Credit criteria suggest above.

Students completing courses of advanced education, such as a degree or postgraduate degree, may be eligible for loans from their relevant student finance authority.

If you receive a student loan, you may still be entitled to Universal Credit, however, this will be dependent on the type of student loan you receive.

If you are eligible for Universal Credit, your student income will affect how much you receive in Universal Credit payments.


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  • DWP confirm the benefit overpayments recovery pause has ended

While receiving Universal Credit, claimants are subject to an “assessment period” for usually every month they receive the benefit.

So if your Universal Credit is paid monthly, any student income you receive during that assessment period will be taken off your total amount of Universal Credit.

Loans which are intended to cover maintenance costs like rent and bills will be assessed and be deducted from your Universal Credit.

Special Support Loans or Grants, which help provide support for study costs like books and travel, are not usually deducted from Universal Credit.

Where to find more information

If you are not sure if you are eligible to receive Universal Credit, you can call the Department for Work and Pensions Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

If you are struggling with the benefits system, or want to find out what options could be available to you while you are studying, you can speak to your Student Union or Citizens Advice.

For any students who have questions about student loans, the Student Loans Company has also issued guidance for students currently studying amid the COVID-19 crisis, which you can access HERE.

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