Student Income and Universal Credits

Guidance on how student income should be calculated in Universal Credits awards.

Eligibility for Universal Credits

Most full time students are not eligible for Universal Credits. There are, however, certain categories of full-time students that are entitled. These are listed on the Government's universal credits guidance.

What student income affects Universal Credits?

The following table shows which income will be counted:

Type of income

Included?

Undergraduate maintenance loan/grant

Yes – maximum amount available (including expected parental contribution)

Undergraduate special support element/grant

No

Parents Learning Allowance

No

Childcare Grant

No

Adult Dependants' Allowance

Yes

UWE bursary

No (course related cost)

UWE hardship funds

Please contact the student money service for confirmation.

NHS training grants

Awaiting update from DWP

Postgraduate Master's loan

Yes - 30% of the maximum available

Special support element/grant

The special support element/grant is awarded to students that are lone parents or are in receipt of a disability benefit such as Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence payments. It increases the overall maintenance loan and should be disregarded as student income in the calculation of Universal Credits.

What period is student income taken into account?

Universal Credits are calculated and awarded for monthly assessment periods. These periods will differ from person to person.

Student income will be included in the assessment periods which fall in the academic year but not during the long summer vacation. It will be included as income in the assessment period in which the academic year begins, but not in the assessment period when the summer vacation starts. Usually, student income will be included in nine or ten assessment periods but could be 11 for longer courses.

Example

  • Academic year starts 16 September 2019, summer vacation starts 26 June 2020.
  • Universal Credits assessment period runs from the third of the month to the second of the month.
  • Student income will be included in the assessment periods: 3 September to 2 October 2019 up to and including 3 May to 2 June 2020 (nine assessment periods).
  • Student income will not be included as income during the long summer vacation in the assessment periods: 3 June to 2 July 2020 up to and including 3 August to 2 September 2020 (three assessment periods).

The calculation

Once you have determined which student income will be included and the number of assessment periods the income should be included for you can then work out the monthly income that will be taken into account, from this a monthly disregard of £110 applies.

Example

Lone parent in receipt of student finance maintenance loan £10,194 (including special support element of £3,783).

£10,194 - £3,783 (special support element is disregarded)

 = £6,411

Divided by nine assessment periods

= £712.33 minus £110 monthly disregard

= £602.33 student income to be taken into account in the calculation of the monthly Universal Credits award.

What information should I provide to Universal Credits?

You will receive a new student finance award letter for each academic year which gives a breakdown of the amounts awarded. If you have been awarded the special support element/grant this should be listed on the breakdown and Universal Credits will need to see this.

Before the start of each academic year provide Universal Credits with all pages of your award letter. You may also want to provide them with a copy of this guidance.

Once they have assessed your student income check your award details to make sure the correct amount of student income has been included. Also make sure your student income is removed from the assessment during the long summer vacation.

It’s important to keep track of your award and notify any changes in your circumstance that could affect your entitlement. Failure to do so could cause overpayments and even prosecution.

What should I do if my student income has been incorrectly assessed?

It is common for Universal Credits to incorrectly assess student income, This is usually due to one of the following:

  • Not disregarding the special support element or parents learning allowance
  • Not disregarding the £110 per month
  • Not dividing the income over the correct number of months

If you think your universal credits has been incorrectly assessed then make a request for a mandatory reconsideration (this can usually be done via your online journal) asking them to revise the student income. It may be useful to lay out the calculation following the example above.

If you are unsure if your award is correct or are having difficulties with a correct assessment being made please contact one of the following advice agencies:

Citizens Advice

Talking Money

North Bristol Advice