Benefits and tax credits


Most full-time students can’t claim benefits, but there are some exceptions. The rules on eligibility for benefits and tax credits can be complicated and your eligibility will depend on your personal circumstances. International students cannot claim benefits or tax credits, apart from help with health costs on low income grounds. Take a look at the outlines below to see if you think you might qualify. You can also find more specialist advice from national charity Turn2Us.

We’ve signposted to plenty of external resources and charities, because they’re the experts when it comes to money. We don’t offer our own financial advice, so if you need more support than is available on these pages, these specialist services will be able to help.

Top tip!

Benefits and tax credits are changing. Some of the benefits and tax credits listed here will be replaced by Universal Credit. Universal Credit is being rolled out in Durham from June 2018, initially affecting new claims.


full-time students

You may be able to claim Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (if liable) if:

  • you are a lone parent
  • you have a partner who is also a student and you are both responsible for a child
  • you have a disability

You may be able to claim Job seekers Allowance (JSA) during the summer holiday if:

  • you are a lone parent
  • you have a partner who is also a student, and one or both of you is responsible for a child
  • you are available for actively seeking work
  • you have taken approved time away from your course for up to one year due to illness or a caring responsibility

Part-time students

If you are registered on a part-time course you can claim:

If you are a PhD student writing up on a part-time basis you can claim:

Students with children

Students with children can claim:

  • Child Benefit – non-means tested, but there are some restrictions for high earners
  • Child Tax Credit – means-tested, with the amount determined by your income and factors such as the number of children you have

Students with disabilities

Students with disabilities can claim:

Top tip!

Income-related ESA and Housing Benefit are both means tested, so students who claim may find their income is too high to qualify. But this changes during the summer vacation because student finance does not count as income for benefits purposes at this time.

Page last reviewed: 01/04/2019