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2. Who is eligible
To qualify for universal credit (UC), you must satisfy all the basic rules described on here. Most students cannot claim UC, although there are some exceptions (see below). For UC, a student is referred to as someone ‘receiving education’.
Receiving education
You are ‘receiving education’ if you are:1Reg 12 UC Regs
–a qualifying young person. This applies if you are in, enrolled on or accepted for non-advanced education of at least 12 hours a week, or approved training, and have not yet reached 31 August after your 19th birthday. If you are 19 you must have started, been enrolled on or accepted the course before you turned 19. You are also a qualifying young person until 31st August following your 16th birthday, even if you have left education;
–undertaking a full-time course of advanced education (see here – the rules are the same as for income support);2paras H6031 and H6047 ADM
–on another full-time course for which a loan, grant or bursary is provided for your maintenance;
– on a course that is not compatible with your ’work-related requirements’ (ie, what you are expected to do in terms of looking for work) and you are not covered by the above three bullet points.
You are ‘undertaking a course’ from the day you start the course until the last day of the course (or an earlier date when you abandon or are dismissed from the course).3Reg 13(1) UC Regs
1     Reg 12 UC Regs »
2     paras H6031 and H6047 ADM »
3     Reg 13(1) UC Regs »
Modular courses
A modular course is one that has two or more modules, and you are required to successfully complete a specified number of modules to have completed the course. If you are undertaking a part of a modular course, you count as undertaking the course from the day on which that part of the course starts until the last day on which you are registered as undertaking that part (or an earlier date if you abandon or are dismissed from the course).
You are also undertaking a modular course during any period in which you undertake the course to retake failed exams or complete a module that you have failed to successfully complete as well as any holidays, unless the holiday follows the last day of the final module.1Reg 13(1)(b), (2) & (3) UC Regs
1     Reg 13(1)(b), (2) & (3) UC Regs »
Who can claim universal credit
If you do not count as receiving education, you can claim UC in the same way as anyone else.
If you count as receiving education, you are only eligible for UC if you:1Regs 3(2)(b), 13(4) and 14 UC Regs
are responsible for a child or young person;
are under 22 on a non-advanced course, you were under 21 when you started the course, and you are ’without parental support’ (see below);
have limited capability for work and also get disability living allowance or personal independence payment. Note: you must already have limited capability for work when you claim UC, or you must already have been assessed as having (or treated as having) limited capability for work in your UC claim before you start education. If you do not already have limited capability for work, claim contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) in order to establish your limited capability for work, and then claim UC once that has been established. You don’t have to have made national insurance contributions and can claim contributory ESA on a ‘credits-only’ basis;
are a single foster parent;
are a member of a student couple and one of you is a foster parent;
are over pension age and your partner has not yet reached that age;
are making a joint claim with your partner who is not a student, or who is a student but would be eligible for UC her/himself while studying;
have taken time out because of illness or caring responsibilities, you have now recovered or your caring responsibilities have ended, and you are not eligible for a grant or loan.
If you are in one of the above groups and have a partner who is also a student, you can make a joint claim for UC with her/him, even if s/he is not in one of these groups.2Reg 3(2)(b) UC Regs
Without parental support
‘Without parental support’ means you:3Reg 8(3) UC Regs
– are an orphan; or
– cannot live with your parents because you are estranged from them, or because there is a serious risk to your physical or mental health, or you would face significant harm if you lived with them; or
– are living away from your parents, and they cannot support you financially because they are ill or disabled, in prison or not allowed to enter Great Britain.
‘Parent’ includes any person acting in place of a parent. The person must be broadly acting in the way a parent would.4NP v SSWP [2009] UKUT 243 (AAC)
Note: if you are aged 16 or 17 and receiving education, you can only claim UC if you are covered by one of the first three bullet points above – ie, you have a child, you are without parental support and in non-advanced education, or you are ill or disabled. If you are a 16/17-year-old care leaver and are receiving education, you can only claim if you have a child or are ill or disabled, and you cannot get help with housing costs.5Reg 8 and Sch 4 para 4 UC Regs
Jodie is 18 and on UC. She starts a full-time course of non-advanced education. She is estranged from her parents. She is still eligible for UC.
Lewis is on UC. He moves in with his partner Liz, who is on a full-time advanced course and has a three-year-old child. They are eligible for UC.
Pauline is 23 and is on UC. She starts a part-time non-advanced course in January 2020. The DWP decides that her course is not compatible with her work-related requirements, so she counts as ‘receiving education’. She is single and not disabled. She is not eligible for UC while she is on her course.
Karen is on UC. She moves in with her partner, Jake, who is unemployed. Karen starts a full-time advanced course. They are still eligible for UC.
Donna is a lone parent with a nine-year-old son. She is on housing benefit (HB) and child tax credit (CTC). In the summer vacation she claims UC and her HB and CTC stop.
1     Regs 3(2)(b), 13(4) and 14 UC Regs »
2     Reg 3(2)(b) UC Regs »
3     Reg 8(3) UC Regs »
4     NP v SSWP [2009] UKUT 243 (AAC)  »
5     Reg 8 and Sch 4 para 4 UC Regs »
Work-related requirements
Even if you are a student who can claim UC, you may have to meet certain ’work-related requirements’ in order to get UC. These are set out in a ‘claimant commitment’, drawn up by your work coach at the job centre. If it is not possible to do so while on your course, you may be given a sanction and your UC may be reduced. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more information about work-related requirements and sanctions.
There are no work-related requirements if you are receiving education and you are:1Reg 89 UC Regs
under 22 (and were under 21 when you started your course), in non-advanced education and have no parental support; or
eligible for UC as a student (unless you are eligible after having taken time out because of illness or caring responsibilities) and you get a student loan for maintenance, or a maintenance grant that is taken into account for UC. This only applies during the period of the year in which your student income is taken into account. Normally, this is over the academic year (see Chapter 16). Over the summer vacation you may be subject to work-related requirements.
If you are not exempt from work-related requirements under the rules above and not exempt for any other reason (eg, because you have a child under one or you are severely disabled), you must meet your work-related requirements, otherwise you can be sanctioned. This means that your UC is reduced by the level of your standard allowance (see here). You may be able to challenge a sanction. If you are given a sanction, get advice as soon as possible.
Sukhi is a full-time further education student. She gets a bursary maintenance allowance. She has a 12-year-old daughter. She claims UC. Because she gets a student grant for maintenance, no work-related requirements apply.
Sean is a lone parent with one child aged eight, studying a full-time Higher National Diploma course. He claims UC and does not have any work-related requirements applied because he gets a student loan. His long vacation starts on 11 June 2021. For the assessment period covering 11 June and the next two assessment periods, which are wholly within his summer vacation, he is subject to work-related requirements. If Sean cannot meet these requirements, he may be sanctioned and his UC reduced.
1     Reg 89 UC Regs »

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