Housing benefit for students

Most full-time students are not entitled to housing benefit, however there are some exceptions.

Can I claim housing benefit if I am a student?

You will probably be able to claim housing benefit if you:

  • are on a part-time course
  • are disabled
  • are responsible for children
  • are under 21 and taking a non higher education course such as Highers
  • are getting income support or income based jobseeker's allowance
  • are receiving a state pension
  • leave your course temporarily because of illness or caring responsibilities.

If you think you may be eligible for housing benefit speak to an adviser. Don't stop paying your rent until you have received confirmation that you will be entitled to benefit and how much you will get. It can take a long time for a claim to be processed. If you stop paying 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 serious rent arrears.

If you are a full-time student and do not fall into the categories above you will probably not be entitled to housing benefit.

You are a full-time student if:

  • you are under 19 and on a course which is more advanced than Highers or sixth year studies (SYS)
  • you are between 19 and retirement age and on a course of more than 16 hours per week (this is not just lecture or tutorial time but includes study time too).

If you are unsure whether you're a full-time student, speak to someone at your college or university.

Can my partner claim housing benefit?

If you live with a partner who is not a student, they may able to claim housing benefit. However your income, for example, your student grant or loan, will be taken into account and may reduce the amount of housing benefit that your partner is entitled to.

What if it's not me who has to pay the rent?

If you live in a house where someone else, who is not your partner, is liable for the rent (for example, your parents), your student income will not be taken into account during term time if they claim housing benefit.

If you work full-time (over 16 hours per week) during the holidays, your income will be taken into account and their housing benefit will be reduced as if you were contributing to their rent. This is a called a non-dependant deduction.

Where can I get help with benefits?

The rules regarding students and benefits are complicated, so if you are unsure whether you're entitled to help with your rent, it's always best to seek advice. Advisers at your university or college welfare service will have specialist knowledge about claiming benefits if you are a student. You can also get advice from an adviser in your local area.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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