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Benefits for students on low incomes

Benefits for students on low incomes

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While years of study can eventually have a positive impact on your family finances, at the time it can be a real struggle to get by on a student’s income. Whether you’ve already started your studies or are considering undertaking a course, you may be interested to know that there are some benefits you might be able to claim.

Student Loans

Most students have to take out student loans to fund their course. There are two types: a Tuition Fee Loan, which is up to £9,000 per year and is paid directly to the university or college and a Maintenance Loan of up to £8,009 to cover your living costs. Both of these loans need to be paid back after graduation but only once you start earning over £21,000 per year.


Full-time UK students whose household income is less than £43,000 can claim a Maintenance Grant to help cover living and studying costs. This grant does not have to be repaid and is placed into your bank account alongside your student loan. If you qualify for means tested benefits, such as Housing Benefit, then you can apply for a Special Support Grant instead. A Special Support Grant comes in at the same amount as a Maintenance Grant, however, it does not affect the amount you can receive on your student loan.


Whether or not you are entitled to claim welfare benefits will depend on your personal circumstances. If you have savings, a spouse who works full-time or receive over a certain level of student finance, you may not qualify. A student advisor should be able to offer guidance on what you can claim.

Income Support

If you have a low income then you may be able to claim Income Support. You must meet certain conditions, including working fewer than 16 hours each week and not being signed on as unemployed. The amount received depends on individual circumstances but if you have no income coming in then you can expect to get at least £57.35 a week. If you are entitled to Income Support then you can also claim Child Tax Credit if you have kids.

Childcare Grants

Benefits for students on low incomesStudents in full time higher education can claim a Childcare Grant. This is paid on top of your student finance and doesn’t need to be repaid after graduation. For the current academic year, the figures stand at up to £150.23 a week for one child or up to £257.55 for two or more children. To qualify, your children must be under the age of 15 (or 17 with special educational needs), you must be eligible for a student finance package and your children must be financially dependent on you. The childcare provider you choose must be registered with Ofsted.

Parents’ Learning Allowance

A payment of up to £1,523 can be made to full-time students with children. The Parents’ Learning Allowance is designed to help with the costs of study materials, textbooks and travel to and from university. It doesn’t have to be paid back, won’t affect your benefits and is paid on top of other student finance. You don’t need to be paying for childcare to be eligible.

Hardship funds

If you are struggling for cash then you may be eligible for extra help from your college or university’s hardship fund. The amount you receive will be decided by the university or college and you won’t usually have to pay it back. To apply, you’ll need to take along your letter from the student loans company as well as some bank statements showing your incoming and outgoing finances.







About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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