Can students claim benefits to help with rent?

You can't usually claim benefits to help with rent if you're a student but there are some exceptions.

Claiming universal credit to help with rent

Universal credit includes a housing element to help with rent.

Most students can't claim universal credit but there are some exceptions.

Studying part time

You can usually claim universal credit as a part time student as long as you can meet the conditions in your claimant commitment.

Speak to your work coach about your course when you apply.

Under 21 and can't live with parents

You can usually claim universal credit as a full time student if your course is classed as non advanced education. For example, if you're studying A-levels.  

You must be without parental support. For example, if you've been asked to leave by your parents or would be at risk there. 

You don't usually have to look for work to get universal credit in this situation.

Living with a partner

You may be able to claim universal credit if you live with a partner who is not a student, and you have a low income. 

Your joint income affects:

  • if you qualify
  • how much you can get as a couple  

If children live with you

You may be able to claim universal credit as a full time student if you’re a parent or foster parent with a:

  • dependent child under 16
  • 16 to 19 year old in full time, non advanced education

If you share responsibility for a child, you can only claim if they normally live with you.

If you get certain disability benefits

You can get universal credit as a full time student if you're classed as having 'limited capability for work' and you also get one of the following benefits: 

  • disability living allowance (DLA)
  • personal independence payment (PIP)
  • attendance allowance

If you're pension age

You may be able to claim housing benefit instead of universal credit if you've reached pension age. 

If you live with a partner who is working age, you usually need to claim universal credit.

The type of course and whether it's full time or part time doesn't matter once you're pension age.

If you already get housing benefit

You can't usually make a new claim for housing benefit unless you're pension age, or living in certain types of temporary or supported housing.

If you're already claiming housing benefit, you may be able to continue to do so if you become a student in the following situations:    

  • it's a part time course
  • you get certain disability benefits
  • you're a lone parent or foster carer
  • you're a couple with children and you're both full time students

You usually have to remain in the same council area to stay on housing benefit. If you move to a different area, you'll usually have to claim universal credit instead.

How your benefit is worked out

Universal credit and housing benefit are means tested benefits. 

Other income such as maintenance loans or wages are taken into account when your benefit is calculated.

Still need help?

Turn2Us have useful benefit guides for:


Last updated 20 November 2020 | © Shelter

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