Housing benefit for students

Housing benefit for students can sometimes be paid, depending on whether you are a full-time student or a part-time student, as well as a number of other factors based on your individual circumstances.

Full-time or part-time?

Full time students do not usually qualify for housing benefit, but the rules for housing benefit rules don’t set out exactly when a course should be classed as full-time or part-time. If you are at university on a full-time course you will be counted as a full-time student, in other educational establishments you may have to be on a course that provides more than 16 hours of ‘guided learning’ to be classified as full-time.

If you're not sure about whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, get advice from someone at your college or university.

Full-time students

Full-time students are not usually entitled to housing benefit. However, you may get housing benefit if you are a full-time student and:

  • you are a lone parent (including if you are responsible for a foster child placed with you)
  • your partner is also a student and one or both of you are responsible for a child
  • you are claiming income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income- related employment and support allowance as a student
  • you have a disability and qualify for a disability premium, severe disability premium or income-related employment and support allowance (for example, if you are registered blind)
  • you qualify for a disabled students allowance because you are deaf
  • you have been treated as having limited capability for work for 28 weeks or more (this is part of the assessment process for employment and support allowance)
  • you leave your course temporarily because of illness or caring responsibilities.

Your income – such as your student loan or any earnings you have – will be taken into account when your entitlement is calculated, but some amounts (such as a set amount for travel and books) are ignored.

Part-time students

Part-time students are usually eligible for housing benefit, and may be able to claim other benefits including income support and jobseeker’s allowance in some circumstances.

Can your partner claim housing benefit?

If you live with a partner who is not a student, your partner may able to claim housing benefit for you both. Your income – such as your student loan or any earnings you have – will be taken into account when your partner’s entitlement is calculated.

Your partner may qualify for housing benefit if

Studying for A-levels or similar?

Some young people aged under 21 may be able to claim housing benefit while still in further education studying for academic or vocational courses up to A-level or similar. You would have to be liable for rent and not be supported by a parent, carer or someone who claims child benefit for you. You should seek specialist advice if you are in this situation.

Term time and vacation accommodation

You will be treated as a student while you are registered on your course, including during your vacations. You stop being treated as a student when your course ends following the last day of your term, or from the date you finally abandon or are dismissed from your course.

Does it matter what type of accommodation you live in?

There are restrictions on the type of accommodation housing benefit is paid for. If you are eligible for housing benefit as a full-time student, it can be paid for rented accommodation, including accommodation provided by your educational establishment – typically halls of residence and flats/houses in student villages.

However, you won’t be able to get housing benefit to pay for halls of residence/student village accommodation if you are:

  • a part-time student on income support, jobseeker’s allowance or employment and support allowance, or
  • a full-time student returning to your course following a period of  illness/caring for someone.

Seek advice if you are not sure about your entitlement.

Do you live with your parents and they claim housing benefit

Living at home while you study won’t affect your parent’s housing benefit during term time – your student income and any earnings you have will not be taken into account. However, if you work full-time (over 16 hours per week) during the summer holidays, your income will be taken into account and the amount of housing benefit they get will be reduced as if you were contributing to the rent.

Are you of pension age?

You can claim housing benefit if you, or your partner, have reached the age to claim state pension credit.

Applying for housing benefit

If you think you may be eligible for housing benefit, you will need to make a claim. If you can pay the rent, keep doing so until you get a decision telling you that you are entitled to benefit and how much you will get. If you stop paying or don’t pay your rent and later find out that you are not entitled to housing benefit or you are entitled to less than you thought, you could end up with rent arrears.

Need advice?

The rules regarding students and benefits are complicated, so if in doubt seek advice. Advisers at your university or college welfare service will have specialist knowledge about claiming benefits as a student. You may also be able to get advice from a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice, or another local advice centre. Use our directory to find agencies in your area.

Last updated: 1 January 2014