After your course has finished, your eligibility for benefits and tax credits may change.
You stop being counted as a student for means tested benefits on the last day of the course in your final academic year. This is usually earlier than the day on which you graduate. From then on, if you’re not working (or working less than 16 hours per week), but are available for work, you can claim Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) until you start the first year of your Foundation Programme.
- For JSA you are usually allowed a ‘permitted period’ of 13 weeks, during which time you can specify the type of job you are looking for to one which is suitable for your qualifications. So put down ‘medical foundation trainee’ or similar on the form.
- You can claim JSA even if you return to your family home, as your parents’ income is not counted.
- If you get JSA you’ll be able to claim the maximum amount of Housing Benefit (help with rent, and rates if you’re in Northern Ireland) and Council Tax support to which you are entitled. This is very important if you remain in your own rented accommodation, as you may well become liable for council tax/rates, as well as the rent, after the last day of the course. Similarly, if you are an owner occupier, you will become liable for the council tax/rates.
- Getting JSA also gives you full help with health costs – so it is an opportunity to get your eyes tested, your teeth checked etc. before you are too busy in your first job.
If you do temporary work until your first foundation job, depending on how much you earn, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support if it is appropriate to your situation. You should also check out Working Tax Credit (WTC) because if you are working during this period, you may be able to claim WTC depending on your situation.
Where to find help
If you are not sure what you may be entitled to, or how to go about claiming, you should be able to get further help from:
- Your university’s Student Advice Services, which may be based either in the university or the Students’ Union
- Citizens’ Advice
- Welfare rights offices run by local authorities. You can find out if there is an office near you by looking on the website of your local Council.
- Benefits and tax credits overview
- Welfare benefits for medical students
- Child benefit and tax credits
- How to claim benefits
- Benefits and tax credits: helpful organisations
- Help with health costs