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Some key facts for students as we approach the end of the academic year – opportunities and warnings

The end of the academic year – impact on benefits

 

Full time student who can claim Universal Credit – summer vacation

Student income is taken into account for UC over the academic year but not the summer vacation. This is because student finance is not intended to cover the summer vacation period.

For those students who are eligible to claim Universal Credit (most are not) whose term time income is too high to receive an award, this may present a window of opportunity.

Student income (except for certain types of student income that are disregarded) is counted as unearned income for UC from the start of the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) in which the course / academic year starts up to the MAP before the MAP in which the course / academic year finishes.

So, there could be two, three or four Monthly Assessment Periods in the summer when no student income is taken into account and UC is higher.

For example, Jade is a full-time student with two children. She is on the second year of a three year degree course. The current academic year ends on Friday 23rd June. Her third and final academic year starts on 27th September.

Jade made a claim for UC last October but this was refused – her income was too high. But she could make a new claim before her academic year has finished and receive an award.

If she claimed UC on 25th May her MAPs would run from 25th of one month to the 24th of the next and for the MAPs 25th May – 24th June,  25th June – 24th July, 25th July – 24th August and 25th August – 24th September, no student income is counted (but her student income is spread over the other 8 MAPs of a 12 month period).

Click here for more information on UC and students. And check out our mapping tool.


Students on Child Tax Credit – summer vacation

During the summer vacation some students with children will see a drop in their income ie as this is a period not normally covered by student finance. If they feel that Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit is not enough to manage on, they might be tempted to claim Universal Credit instead.

But they might end up worse off over the whole year if they do this.  Most student income is disregarded for Tax Credits, whereas most student income is counted for Universal Credit.

This is a complex area to advise on and every case is different. Some students will have rent to pay – if they receive some Housing Benefit during term time, this could increase during the summer. If they are not entitled to HB during term time, they cannot make a new claim for HB during the summer (except if they are in ‘temporary’ or ‘specified’ accommodation).

So, claimants should get a benefit check before claiming UC – as it is not possible to return to Tax Credits once a UC claim has been made.

 

Young people finishing A levels or equivalent – when will their parent / carer stop getting benefits for them?

Child Element in UC

The parent / carer will not have a Child Element included in their UC from the beginning of the Monthly Assessment Period in which the young person’s course finishes (which is normally the date of their last exam).

So, for example, if the young person’s last A level exam is on 2nd July, their parent’s / carer’s UC will not include a Child Element (or Disabled Child Element if one had been included) from the Monthly Assessment Period which includes 2nd July.

The young person could claim UC in their own right, (if they are eligible), but their parent / carer would need to relinquish their Child Benefit for this to be possible.

Child Tax Credit

If the young person is planning to go on to higher education (eg university), the Child Element in a Tax Credits award can continue to be included up to 31 August. Although if the young person started work of 24 hours or more pw, it would end sooner.

If the young person is not planning to go on to higher education, the Child Element ends when the course ends.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit will normally continue until 5th September 2021 (the Sunday after 31 August).

It would end earlier if:

  • the young person reaches the age of 20
  • the young person started work of 24 hours or more a week
  • the young person has made their own claim for Universal Credit.