Universal Credit (UC) came into place in Fife in December 2017. It has replaced the following benefits and tax credits, sometimes referred to as ‘legacy’ benefits:

  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Housing Benefit

You can remain on Universal Credit while studying if:

  • You are responsible for a child
  • You are ill/disabled. You must have limited capability for work (assessed by the DWP) and also get disability living allowance (DLA) or personal independence payment (PIP)
  • You are under 21 (or are 21 but were under that age when you started your course) on a full-time non-advanced course and are ‘without parental support’ - for example if you are estranged from your parents or living away from them in other specified circumstances
  • You are a single foster parent (this includes some single kinship carers)
  • You are in a couple, both of you are students, and one of you is a foster parent
  • You are over the qualifying age for state pension credit (this is gradually increasing, and as of May 2017 is 64 years) and your partner has not yet reached that age
  • You have taken time out because of illness/disability or caring responsibilities and have now recovered or your caring responsibilities have ended, and you are not eligible for a grant or loan
  • You have a partner who is not a student, or who is a student and one or both of you fit into one of the groups above

Please note: if you are aged 16 or 17 and a student you can only claim UC if you fit into one of the first three bullet points (ie, you are responsible for a child; ill/disabled; or estranged etc, from parents and in non-advanced education).

16/17 year old care leavers who are students can only claim if they are responsible for a child or are ill/disabled, and cannot get help with rent.

Abbreviations - a quick guide


Child Tax Credit


Pension Credit


Employment and Support Allowance


Statutory Sick Pay


Housing Benefit


Tax Credits


Income-based JSA


Universal Credit


Income Support


Work Capability Assessment


Income-related ESA


Working Tax Credit


Jobseekers Allowance



Values of Universal Credit

Monthly Standard allowances for Universal Credit

  • Single and under 25: £257.33
  • Single and 25 or over: £324.84
  • In a couple and you’re both under 25: £403.93 (for you both)
  • In a couple and either of you are 25 or over: £509.91 (for you both)
  • For your first child: £281.25 (born before 6 April 2017) £235.83 (born on or after 6 April 2017)
  • For your second child: £235.83 per child
  • If you have a disabled child up to £400.29
  • If you need help with up to 85% of your costs: up to £646.35 childcare costs for one child and £1,108.04 for 2+ children

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)

You can get help paying the interest on up to £200,000 of your loan or mortgage. You must have been receiving UC for 39 consecutive weeks. It will be paid as a loan if your claim was after 7 July 2017.

Housing costs

You could get money to help pay your housing costs. How much you get depends on your age and circumstances.

The payment can cover:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage interest
  • Some service charges
  • Interest on a loan secured against your home

Over 18s

If you are aged 18 years old or over on the 30th of August 2021, the travel award is subject to an assessment of household income.

The travelling expenses are calculated on the cheapest form of public transport available.

Travel is only paid for the time that you are travelling to college and depending on updated guidance from the government we might need to adjust your travel award during the academic year.

Useful links

Citizens Advice and Rights Fife - for independent advice on benefits and Tribunal representation: 0345 1400 095 (Textphone 07872 677 904)

Fife Gingerbread - supports lone parents: 01333 303 124

Child Poverty Action Group

Gov.uk - the UK government portal. Where you will find information and claim forms etc. on most benefits

Universal Credit and students




This table lists some examples. It is followed by further explanation, abbreviations and more details about Universal Credit.

Change of circumstance(s)

What could happen before UC?

What happens in a ‘full service’ UC area?

Change in employment status

On IB-JSA / IS / IR-ESA and start or increase working hours to satisfy WTC amount (to 16, 24 or 30 hours)

Claim WTC

Claim UC

On WTC and hours fall below 16

Claim IS / IB-JSA

Claim UC

On IR-ESA doing permitted work and work becomes permanent, hours increase over 16 or other reason for not satisfying permitted work rules

Potential WTC claim

Claim UC

A full time FE level student and course finishes in June

Claim JSA, HB

Claim UC

Where you were on a ‘legacy benefit’ and have to claim UC as described on this page, you will not be protected against any possible drop down to a lower UC amount.

An example of a drop could mean the loss of £61 or £41 per week for a severely disabled person who is single, lives alone and receives the daily living component of PIP.

You will need to provide evidence of:

  • who you are, e.g. passport or driving license
  • your postcode, e.g. an official letter from a bank or energy company
  • your NI number - you can find this on a pay slip or letter from HMRC
  • your bank, building society or credit union account, e.g. a bank state-ment - ask your bank for a copy of a statement if you don’t have one

Depending on your circumstances, you might need to provide evidence of:

  • how much rent you pay - this can be found on your rent agreement, ask your landlord for a copy if you don’t have one
  • your landlord’s address
  • any savings you have and any other ‘capital’ investments, e.g. shares or property - you will need a bank statement to show your savings or details of property you own (if you have more than £16,000 in savings, you will not receive UC)
  • any income that’s not from work, e.g. from a pension or insurance plan
  • details of how much you earn from work, e.g. recent pay slips how much you pay for childcare (if you want to claim for childcare costs), e.g. an invoice or receipt
  • any other benefits you are getting, e.g. benefits letters or a bank statement
  • child benefit reference numbers for any children you have if you get child benefit - this can be found on letters to you about child benefit, it will start with 'CHB' and is made up of 8 numbers and 2 letters

If you are in a couple, the Job Centre will normally need information and evidence about your partner's circumstances as well as yours.

You must take all the right evidence to the interview, otherwise you will have to wait longer for your UC payment.

Your UC claim will not be granted until you have provided the DWP with all the evidence they require.

Students receiving Universal Credit

In some circumstances, you may be able to study full-time and receive Universal Credit, for example where you are:

  • A parent of a child
  • Severely disabled
  • A young person estranged from their parents
  • Living with a non-student partner and making a joint Universal Credit claim

Students in receipt of Universal Credit will have their award of Universal Credit reduced, on a pound for pound basis, in respect of any maintenance funding they are awarded which exceeds £110 per month for the duration of their studies.

Students in receipt of Universal Credit should be assessed for student support in the usual way. If they are found to be eligible for funding, they should receive a maximum maintenance allocation of £28.00 per week. Students in receipt of Universal Credit may also receive funding for specific purposes (e.g. travel, study, and additional support needs allowances) without this having an impact on their Universal Credit award. However, the student’s letter of award should clearly state that these additional elements have been allocated for a specific purpose.


Susan is over 25 and has a child and lives in a 2 bed property in Kirkcaldy and rent costs are £274.48 per month. She gets UC of:

  • Standard Allowance: £317.82
  • Housing: £274.48
  • Child: £277.08
  • Total: £869.38

Scenario 1

Susan starts a course at Fife College in June. The College award her £28 per week maintenance bursary. This is £1,148 for the year.

Her bursary counts as income over 9 assessment periods, so £1,148/9 = £127.55.

There is a £110 disregard, so her UC is reduced by £17.56 to give her £851.82 per month.

She will not need to meet the work related requirements for UC as she is getting a bursary from the College.

Scenario 2

Susan starts a course at Fife College in June. The College award her £98.79 per week maintenance bursary. This is £4,050.39 for the year.

Her bursary counts as income over 9 assessment periods, so £4,050.39/9 = £450.04.

There is a £110 disregard, so her UC is reduced by £340.04 to give her £529.34 per month.

She will also have to meet the work related requirements.

Susan is better off receiving the £28 per week from college.

Student loans

If you are eligible for a student loan, it counts as income. The maximum loan you could be entitled to is taken into account (including any young students’ bursary), even if this is reduced because of household income, or another grant. A dependent’s grant or lone parent’s grant paid as well as your loan counts as income, but other grants are disregarded (as long as they are not to support your partner or child/rent, or to pay rent covered by UC).


If you do not get a loan, but you receive grant income (such as a nursing bursary) the grant income is taken into account for UC.

Even if you do not apply for the elements available to you via SAAS, they will take it that you have.

Calculating student income for Universal Credit

UC is paid monthly, for an ‘assessment period’ (a period of one month following your date of claim, and each subsequent month). Student income counts as income from the assessment period in which the course/course year begins, and for every assessment period during the course/course year. It is ignored in the assessment period in which the last week of the course or the start of the long vacation falls, and in any assessment periods that fall completely within the long vacation.

£110 of student income is disregarded in each assessment period that is affected by such income.


Susan is over 25, has a child and lives in a 2 bed property in Kirkcaldy. Her rent costs are £274.48 per month.

She gets UC of:

  • Standard Allowance: £317.82
  • Housing: £274.48
  • Child: £277.08
  • Total: £869.38


Susan starts a course at Fife College in June. SAAS award her £8,930.00 for the year.

Her bursary counts as income over 9 assessment periods, so £8,930.00/9 = £992.22.

There is a £110 disregard, so her UC is reduced by £882.22 which means that Susan gets no Universal Credit and has to support herself and her child with her loan, LPG, and ISB - including paying her rent.