Students and benefits ebulletin - June 2021 | CPAG

Students and benefits ebulletin - June 2021

Date: 
20 October 2021

Hello and welcome to the June 2021 edition of CPAG in Scotland's students and benefits ebulletin, keeping you up-to-date with changes to benefits and tax credits which are relevant to students.

In this issue:

Students and benefits online training courses for your organisation

We can deliver online training via zoom for you and your colleagues ‘inhouse’ for up to 15 staff members from your organisation/partner organisations.

The courses offered are:

  • Students and benefits - the basics
  • Introduction to benefits for student advisers
  • Universal credit and students
  • Students and benefits - eligibility in FE and HE
  • Students and benefits - an update

For a brief description of each of these courses go to Full programme of online training courses in Scotland | CPAG and for more detailed information email [email protected]

Online student handbook update and new factsheets

CPAG’s Benefits for students in Scotland handbook free online version has been updated with benefit rate changes from April 2021 and other benefit changes. Three benefits for students factsheets have also been updated as of April 2021.

Claiming benefits in the summer vacation

Full-time students may, in some circumstances, be able to claim social security benefits over the summer vacation between years of the course. If you are doing a course which is longer than one year, the rules say that you still count as a student and can only claim benefit in exceptional circumstances.

You can claim universal credit (UC) between years of your course if you are a parent student. You can also get UC if you are a student who is ill/disabled (you must get DLA or PIP, and have already satisfied the DWP’s ‘limited capability for work’ assessment), or if you are a student with a partner who is not a student, or if you are under 21 in FE and ‘without parental support’. For the full list of students who can claim UC, see CPAG’s Benefits for students in Scotland handbook.

Students claiming UC over the summer vacation are normally required to look for work, but depending on the economic situation due to coronavirus it is possible these requirements may be reduced this year - but this is at the discretion of your work coach.

You must usually claim UC rather than legacy benefits, but if you already get legacy benefits you can stay on them.

If you are considering claiming UC this would bring any tax credits and other legacy benefits to an end. This cannot be reversed. You should therefore seek independent advice and ask for a better-off calculation to see if you are better off overall staying on legacy benefits or claiming UC.

For information on claiming benefits after a course ends, see the March 2021 ebulletin.

CPAG in Scotland's advice line for advisers

Phone 0141 552 0552 if you are an adviser or frontline worker and want to check what benefits a student can claim, or if you have any other questions about social security benefits (whether about students or not). The advice line is available Monday – Thursday 10am – 4pm and Fridays 10am - 12 noon. You can also email your enquiries to [email protected]

Resits and extensions - impact on UC

This year some courses are being extended due to coronavirus. Additional student funding may be available (see funding section below). If your course is extended you still count as a student until whenever the new end date is. This is due to how the law defines who is a student.

The law about when someone counts as a student (‘receiving education’)

For UC, the law says someone is a student until ‘the last day of the course or on such earlier date as the person finally abandons it or is dismissed from it’ (Universal Credit Regulations 2013 Reg 13). In the case of modular courses (a course that ‘consists of two or more modules, the successful completion of a specified number of which is required before a person is considered by the educational establishment to have completed the course’), someone is a student from the day they start undertaking part of a modular course until the last day they are registered as undertaking that part, or such earlier date as they abandon or are dismissed from the course. While undertaking part of a modular course, someone continues to count as a student during any period in respect of which they undertake the course for the purpose of retaking examinations or completing the module, and this includes holiday periods during the module or immediately following it (apart from the vacation after the course ends).

Therefore anyone whose course is extended, or who resits a module or retakes exams, is likely to still count as a student under the UC Regulations, and will not be eligible for UC unless they were previously eligible for UC as a student.

Note that if the course is extended then council tax exemption should also be extended to cover the new course dates, and proof of the new date should be provided to the local authority administering the council tax exemption.

Student funding update

FE bursary rates

For the 2021/22 academic year, some bursary maintenance allowance rates increase in line with inflation (1.9%), with the maximum amount for self-supporting students and for parentally supported students living away from home increasing from £106.53 to £108.55 per week. The amount for care-experienced students remains at £202.50 per week, and for students eligible for UC at £28 per week.

Course extensions and resits

Full-time HE students whose course is extended can get a guaranteed one-off covid-19 payment of £400 for each four-week period up to a maximum of 16 weeks. This will be paid as a lump sum. As it is a one-off payment it will be treated as capital for benefit purposes.

HE students who have to repeat a year can use their +1 year funding option. If this has already been used then they may be able to get an extra year’s funding on compassionate grounds.

FE students can continue to get their usual student funding during any course extension.

Nursing and midwifery students can apply for extra bursary if their course is extended or to complete placements.

For more information see the Student Information Scotland website at www.studentinformation.gov.scot/coronavirus