Tax credits and benefits

Updated on 12 April 2023


This page explains about tax credits and universal credit. There are two tax credits – child tax credit and working tax credit. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) administer and pay tax credits. DWP administer and pay universal credit (UC). UC is replacing tax credits as well as some other means-tested benefits.

There are no special rules for students in the tax credits system – you have to meet the same qualification criteria as everyone else. This means you need to meet the age and working hours requirements for Working Tax Credit, and you must be responsible for a child or young person to get Child Tax Credit. UC is the Government’s new system of support that is gradually replacing six working-age benefits (the ‘legacy benefits’). These are working tax credit; child tax credit; income support; income-based jobseekers’ allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and housing benefit. Now that UC is available across the UK, HMRC say that most people can no longer make a brand-new claim for tax credits. Instead you will need to claim universal credit or pension credit (depending on age and circumstances).

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Can I claim tax credits while I’m a student?

Most of the information relating to tax credits and universal credit is in our main Tax credits and benefits section of the website.

The tax credits pages include two that may be of particular interest to students:

Can I claim universal credit while I’m a student?

Generally, as a student you cannot claim UC as there are other means of financial support designed for students. However, there are some key exceptions to this rule which allow some students to claim UC and you may be able to claim UC if any of the following apply:. 

  • you’re aged 21 or under, in full-time non-advanced education and do not have parental support
  • you’re responsible for a child
  • you live with your partner and they’re eligible for Universal Credit
  • you’ve reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit and live with a partner who is under that age
  • you’re disabled and have limited capability for work or limited capability for work related activity and are getting:
    • Personal Independence Payment
    • Disability Living Allowance
    • Attendance Allowance
    • Child disability payment

If you are studying full-time at non-advanced level or you are on a traineeship or similar and you are aged between 16 and 19, you may be classed as a qualifying young person and be included in someone else’s claim for UC.

You can find more information about the specific rules for students and universal credit on GOV.UK.

Where can I get more information?

Other areas of this website also have detailed information on:

The detail around how tax credits work can get complex. More information about all aspects of tax credits and child benefit, including dealing with HMRC about tax credits and child benefit is available on our specialist website for advisers: Revenuebenefits.

Information about tax credits, child benefit and state benefits can also be found on GOV.UK along with links to the tax credits manuals.

Tax guides

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