We know that balancing caring responsibilities alongside study can be challenging. Our advisers are here to support you in dealing with these challenges and aim to ensure that you are both aware of, and, able to access the full range of support available to you.
I am a part-time student with caring responsibilities
If you are currently enrolled on a part-time course and spend 35 hours a week or more, caring for someone with a disability or long-term health condition, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance. Carer’s Allowance is a payment of up to £66.15/week, designed to help persons with regular and substantive caring responsibilities with their everyday living costs. You do not need to be related to, or living with, the person you care for to claim this benefit. Carers’ Allowance is a means-tested benefit and so you must be on a low income to claim this benefit. If you are currently in receipt of or expect to receive any bursaries, scholarships or other funding during your studies, this has potential to affect the amount that you receive in Carer’s Allowance. Click here for further information on Carers’ Allowance and how to apply.
In addition, you may be able to access a supplementary payment of up to £552.40/ year from the Scottish Government. Further information on this supplement can be found here.
If you have any questions about eligibility or about how to claim Carer’s Allowance or the Carer's Allowance Supplement, do get in touch. Likewise, if you would like to challenge any decision not to grant Carer’s Allowance or the Carer's Allowance Supplement, we can advise further on options for lodging an appeal.
If you are on a low income, you may also be able to claim other benefits alongside Carer’s Allowance.
These include Universal Credit and Council Tax Reduction. Council Tax Reduction aims to assist persons on a low income with their council tax costs. You can find some further information here, but do get in touch with our service if you have any queries. Universal Credit is designed to help persons on a low income with their housing and day-to-day living costs. You can find further information on Universal Credit here. Universal Credit can be slightly more complicated to claim than other benefits, as you may be asked to evidence your caring responsibilities and/or be asked to meet certain work related requirements. Our advisers can assist you with submitting a claim and can offer guidance on how to prove your responsibilities.
If you are already in receipt of a "legacy benefit" ( i.e. working tax credit, child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-related employment support allowance and income-based job-seekers' allowance), your student status will not, in and of itself, prevent you from continuing to claim these benefits. However, if you are in receipt of any living costs funding, this may be taken into account when calculating the extent of your entitlement to various mean-tested benefits such as housing benefit and child tax credit. In addition, if any of the benefits you claim entail any work-related requirements (e.g. if you need to commit to seeking full-time work to claim jobseeker’s allowance), you may need to persuade your job-coach that your part-time course does not conflict with these work-related requirements.
The information above is not exhaustive. Our team are able to offer tailored advice on benefits entitlement, taking full account of your individual circumstances.
I am a full-time student with caring responsibilities
Unfortunately, students in full-time higher education cannot currently claim Carer’s Allowance. The Scottish Government is aware of the challenges that student carers face and are looking to remove the “not in full time education” requirement as soon as Carer’s Allowance is fully devolved to Scotland. In the meantime, our service can support you in ensuring that you access the maximum financial support available to you.
I am a full-time student but I need to take time out to care for someone
There has been some debate in recent years on whether a student on an interruption of study from a full-time degree course should be counted as being “in full-time education” when determining eligibility for Carers’ Allowance. With one judge ruling that in cases where a student has suspended their studies for a full academic year, they should not be regarded as being in “full-time education”.
We would recommend that students who meet these eligibility criteria and who need to take an interruption of study for a full academic year, consider applying for Carer’s Allowance. If your application is unsuccessful, we can offer further guidance on requesting an appeal. If your application is sucessful, we recommend that you also check on your eligibility for Carer's Allowance Supplement. Further information on the relevant criteria can be found here.
If you need to take an interruption for a period shorter than a year, please contact our service. Our advisers will be able to offer further guidance on any financial implications of an interruption and assist you in determining the full range of financial support available.
I have caring responsibilities but I am not sure if I would be counted as a carer for the purpose of claiming Carer’s Allowance.
This link provides some basic information on the current eligibility criteria for claiming Carers’ Allowance. We know that it can sometimes be difficult to know whether a task or activity would be considered caring for someone, particularly if you have been supporting someone for a long period of time. Carers UK provides some excellent guidance on this. Two key things to keep in mind are 1) Time spent “keeping an eye” on someone can be counted as time spent caring for someone 2) Time spent undertaking practical tasks (such as shopping or cooking for someone) can also be counted as time spent caring for someone.
If you think you may meet the basic criteria, but are not sure whether your caring responsibilities are substantive enough to receive Carer’s Allowance, or have any questions about how to evidence your caring responsibilities come in and see us.
The University’s Widening Participation team offer a broad range of support to current and prospective students with caring responsibilities, including help with applying to university and setting you up with a peer mentor.
We know that juggling your studies with caring responsibilities can be challenging in itself, and that this may mean that you are unable to work part-time and that this can, in turn, affect your finances. Our welfare team can help you to ensure that you are in receipt of the full extent of financial support available to you. Undergraduate students with caring responsibilities may (depending on their circumstances) be able to claim additional financial support in the form of a dependent’s allowance from SAAS, SFE, SFNI or SFW.
The Students’ Association hosts an active Student Carers group which aims to provide a safe space for Student Carers to come together, discuss the issues affecting them, and campaign to improve their student experience. Click here for further information.
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