This information is intended to give students advice on Housing Benefit, but it should not be regarded as a complete and authoritative statement of the law.

Housing Benefit

Most full-time students are not entitled to claim Housing Benefit during the whole of their course, including the summer vacation's. However, if you are a part-time student or if you are in one of the exempt categories below, then you may be able to get help with your rent. If you are in higher education or on a private sector course, the education establishment should be able to advise you whether the relevant course is full-time or part-time.

Courses of further education that are funded by the Learning & Skills Council, which contain up to and including 16 Guided Learning hours a week, are classed as part-time. Colleges are able to provide a document called a Learning Agreement which will make it clear how many Guided Learning hours a course entails.

If you are on Work Based Learning for Adults and getting a training allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions, you are not classed as a student for Housing Benefit purposes.

Full-time students who can claim Housing Benefit

  • Lone Parents
  • Income support or Jobseekers Allowance Income-based - if you are getting Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance Income-based you will automatically be entitled to claim Housing Benefit.
  • Disabled and those who have been awarded a Disabled Student's Allowance due to deafness.
  • Under 20 - if you are following a course of further education (but not higher education), unless you live at home with your parents.
  • If you live with a partner who is also a student and you have dependent children.
  • Dependent children - if you are solely responsible for a child boarded out with you by a local Council or voluntary organisation.
  • Those whose study has been interrupted due to illness or caring responsibilities, who are not allowed to rejoin their course until a later date and are not eligible for a student loan for this period.
  • Pensioners - if you are aged 60 or more.

If you are entitled to claim Housing Benefit, you can continue to claim it in the summer vacation, although if you are claiming Housing Benefit for accommodation that you need just to be near your college, you cannot get Housing Benefit for any week that you are away.

Where you live

If you are in a hall of residence or other accommodation rented from your educational establishment, you will not be able to claim Housing Benefit during your period of study. The only exception is where your college does not own the accommodation but rents it for your use. (This is not the case if your college rents your accommodation from another educational establishment. Colleges are not allowed to let others manage their accommodation just to enable students to claim Housing Benefit).

If you pay rent to someone who you live with and they are a close relative or your tenancy or rental agreement is not on a commercial basis you will not be entitled to Housing Benefit.

In any other accommodation you can claim Housing Benefit - even during your period of study.

Loan & Grant Income

Loan and grant income is money for your course and living expenses on the course, which comes from:

  • Your local education authority (LEA)
  • Your parents
  • Your sponsors
  • If you are eligible for a loan or have been awarded a grant it will be assumed that these amounts are paid, whether they are actually paid or not.

The money you receive in your loan or grant is your income for the academic year, which is normally the period between the beginning of September and the end of June, and is divided by the number of weeks in that period to give you a weekly amount.

If you or your partner have been assessed as having to make a contribution to your grant from other income you receive, an equivalent amount may be disregarded from the other income you receive in the calculation of your Benefit entitlement.

Because much of your loan or grant is meant for essential educational items, some of the loan or grant is ignored when working out your income for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit purposes. The following elements are not counted:

  • Tuition & examination fees
  • Any disability allowance in your grant
  • The cost of term-time residential study from your college
  • The Two Homes Grant - given when you have to maintain another home away from college
  • An allowance for books and equipment and travel expenses, (unless you have a student loan and the allowance has already been made - see below)

Parental Contributions (Covenant Income)

Your parental contribution is money given to you by your parents in addition to or instead of your grant. It may be an ordinary payment of covenant income.

There are special rules for covenant income. The way in which it counts as income depends on whether you get a grant and whether your grant includes an assessed parental contribution.

Any covenant income that takes the place of the grant will be counted only during the period of study. Up to £5.00 per week of any additional covenant income may be ignored.

Loans from the Student Loans Company

The maximum loan available to you will be taken into account regardless of whether you have borrowed up to your limit or not. An allowance is made for books and equipment and travel expenses. The remainder of the loan income will be divided by the number of weeks for which it is payable to arrive at a weekly figure for assessment purposes. Up to £10.00 a week of the loan may be ignored.

Access Funds

These are discretionary payments made by educational establishment to students who are facing financial hardship.

The amount of the payment to be taken into account will depend on how it is to be paid and what the payment is for. Some payments from the funds can be disregarded in full.

Hardship Loans

Any student who has applied for the maximum amount of loan and received at least one instalment of that loan, may apply for an additional loan on grounds of hardship. These additional loans known as Hardship loans are disregarded in full for assessment purposes