Skip to main content
Advice and Counselling Service

Students with children

On this page we explain financial support which you may be eligible for if you are a parent or are about to become one, depending on your circumstances. You might be a lone parent, or in a couple with another student, or with a non-student. 

Students walking across campus buildings

Your eligibility for child-related provision such free childcare and free nursery places may depend on your immigration status as well as availability within your local authority area.

If you are an international student, or an EU/EEA national student without Pre-Settled or Settled Status, you may have a no recourse to public funds restriction as a condition of your immigration permission. Maternity Action's guidance explains how this might impact your eligibility for child-related provision. There is also advice about childcare and no recourse to public funds on the London Assembly's Migrant Londoners' Hub pages. As detailed in the childcare section below, if eligibility for free childcare requires a parent to be eligible for or in receipt of UK welfare benefits, as these are classed as public funds, those with a NRPF restriction would not be eligible for free childcare.  See the Childcare section below for guidance on the cost and availability of pre-school childcare.

The following sections are for students who are paying the Home/EU rate of tuition fee, including EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have Pre-Settled or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme, normally those in receipt of UK government student finance. The rules for claiming welfare benefits can be complicated for non-UK nationals – please see our EU/EEA/Swiss students web page. 

The information on this page complements our existing guidance on Undergraduate Student Finance, Postgraduate Funding, Planning  a budget and managing money and our Money options pages for international students. 


If you or your partner are pregnant, your eligibility for additional Student Finance, supplementary grants and most welfare benefits will only begin once your baby is born. There is more information about funding in the sections below. 

While pregnant, you are eligible for free NHS prescriptions and free dental care. You might also qualify for Healthy Start food vouchers. 

The Money Helper webpage explains more about these and how to claim them. If you are pregnant but have also been working, you might also qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. If your partner is pregnant, you may qualify for Paternity Pay. See the Money Helper webpage for more information, including a live chat facility. Maternity Action also has a free helpline you can call for legal advice about your rights at work, about benefits, and about NHS maternity care.  
You might also qualify for Maternity/Paternity Pay if you are a postgraduate student getting Research Council funding or Queen Mary University funding. If you have specific questions, please contact the Research Degrees Office directly. There is general information on interrupting your studies including due to maternity/paternity on the research degrees office web pages.

Academic options 

You need to submit an extenuating circumstances claim, if you need more time to submit coursework, or you don't intend sitting exams. Contact your School for advice about your options and read about extenuating circumstances.   Depending on when your baby is due, you may need to consider interrupting your studies. You can discuss this with your School. If you do not want to interrupt, another option may be to switch to part time study, depending on your course - see the section 'I'm a part-time student with children' below for advice about your options. 

More information

Government Student Finance for students with children

Here we explain what extra Student Finance may be available for students with children. If you are eligible to claim welfare benefits please read about how Student Finance income may affect these.


Extra Maintenance Loan

You might be eligible for extra Maintenance Loan, if you meet the qualifying criteria, which we explain on our Government Student Finance page. If you have a partner who is not a student and is the benefit claimant for your family, you will not be eligible for the additional Maintenance Loan. 

Supplementary grants

If you are eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan and a Maintenance Loan for living costs from Student Finance England or from your funding authority, and you have responsibility for a child, you can apply for income assessed Student Finance supplementary grants, depending on your circumstances. There is information on the website about each of the supplementary grants including the eligibility criteria, how much you could get, how to apply, and what information you will need to provide: 

Parents Learning Allowance 

Childcare Grant 

Adult Dependants Grant 
If you are eligible to claim means tested welfare benefits, the only Supplementary Grant income which will be counted in your benefit calculation is the Adult Dependants Grant; income from the other Supplementary Grants will be ignored. 

If you and your partner are both full-time students, you can both claim the Parents Learning Allowance but only one of you can claim the Childcare Grant.

NHS additional allowances  

Medical and dental students in NHS funded years of their course may be eligible to claim NHS additional allowances instead of the Student Finance Supplementary Grants. These include Dependants' Allowance, Parents' Learning Allowance and Childcare Allowance. See our Medical and Dental Students webpage for more information.  

Income assessment 

If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, your partner’s income will normally be used in the student finance household income assessment rather than parental income. If, however, you are under 25 years old or your first child is born after the first day of an academic year of your course and you are co-habiting, the household income assessment will usually be based on your parent’s income, not your partners until the following academic year. If you are a lone parent, you would usually qualify for the maximum amount of supplementary grants.


Eligible postgraduate students can apply for a UK government Master's or Doctoral Loan which we explain in our Postgraduate Funding guidance. However, unlike undergraduate funding, there are no supplementary grants within postgraduate Student Finance to help cover child-related costs. Postgraduate loans are not income assessed.   

Child Benefit

As a parent you may be able to claim Child Benefit. You can check the eligibility rules for getting Child Benefit on the website. Only income over £50,000 may affect a Child Benefit claim due to theChild Benefit Tax Charge. Income from Child Benefit will not affect any government Student Finance you receive. 

Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is the main income assessed welfare benefit to help pay for living costs. If instead of UC you are still receiving old style welfare benefits such as Housing Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance, please contact a Welfare Adviser for advice. 
To be eligible for Universal Credit, you must certain basis qualifying conditions. This can include being responsible for a child. There are rules around limits on amounts of capital and income.

New claims are made online. If you have a partner, you must normally make a joint claim for Universal Credit. In a joint claim, you and your partner must usually meet all the basic qualifying conditions. You and your partner may still be entitled to Universal Credit as joint claimants if one of you is in full-time education (as long as you both satisfy all the other basic qualifying conditions).  

If you are claiming Universal Credit before becoming a student, you need to inform your work coach, as being a student is a relevant change of circumstances. To evidence the course start and end dates, you can obtain a student status letter, once you are enrolled. Queen Mary term dates are available on the website. You will also need upload evidence of any student income. If you fail to notify your casework manager or a benefit office of a relevant change in your circumstances, this may result in an overpayment.  To qualify for Universal Credit, you usually need to meet certain extensive work-related requirements. In certain circumstances, none of the work-related requirements will apply to you and this could make studying and claiming Universal Credit possible. This can include where you are responsible for a child under the age of one, or are responsible for a child or qualifying young person and you are getting Student Finance as a full time student (but during the summer period you will need to meet work requirements). If you’re a lone parent or the lead carer in a couple, your responsibilities will change as your youngest child gets older and will be tailored to your personal circumstances. This is explained on the website 

A Universal Credit payment is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to the claimant, for example if you have children, or if you have rent to pay. The Universal Credit allowances are explained on the website. The benefit cap may limit the total amount of benefit you receive. Your income is counted in the assessment of your entitlement to Universal Credit but certain income is ignored. We explain in the next section how student income is counted.  

How does student income affect Universal Credit

Universal Credit calculations can be complicated. You can request that your Universal Credit work coach provides you with an email explanation of how your award has been calculated. You need to request this within one month of receiving that month's award notification. Once you receive your work coach's explanation, if you still have questions, contact a Welfare Adviser who will be able to check your Universal Credit award is correct.

If instead of UC you are still receiving old style welfare benefits such as Housing Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance, please contact a Welfare Adviser for advice. 
Please also see

Student loans count as income if you could get a loan by taking 'reasonable steps', even if you choose not to apply for one. However if you are not eligible for a loan then it would not be counted.

The maximum undergraduate Maintenance Loan you could be entitled to is taken into account as income. This is the case even if the loan is reduced because of assessed parental contribution. However, if you are entitled to the Special Support Element (SSE), this part should be disregarded. Please check our Maintenance Loan information to see how much the SSE is. For postgraduate students, 30% of the maximum amount of Master's or Doctoral loan is taken into account as income. 

Income from Postgraduate scholarships and from NHS Bursaries is counted.

The following income is ignored:

  • Income from Supplementary Grants and NHS Allowances except for the Adult Dependants Grant 
  • Disabled Students Allowances  
  • Queen Mary Bursary  
  • Financial Assistance Fund awards 

Universal Credit is paid for 'an assessment period' of one month. Student income counts as income in assessment periods that fall during the course as well as the assessment period in which the course begins. Student income is ignored in the assessment period in which the last week of the course or the start of the summer vacation falls (summer vacation does not apply to full-time Postgraduate courses). Student income is also ignored in any other assessment period that falls completely within the summer vacation. In each assessment period £110 of student income is ignored. 

To work out how much Universal Credit you may be eligible for:

1. Calculate your annual loan minus any element that we have mentioned above that should be ignored 
2. Work out how many assessment periods apply for the year. For most undergraduate students in 2021/22, the academic year starts on 13th September and ends on 28th May. This means the assessment period would start on 13th September to 12th October and 7 periods would count student income in the calculation. From 14th May until the start of the next academic year on 13th September, no student income would count.
3. Divide your annual student income from step one by the number of assessment periods in step 2 
4. Deduct £110 

To work out how much Universal Credit you might get you then add up the standard allowance (single or joint, under or over 25) and add the elements you qualify for such as 'the work capability element' and 'the housing costs element' (relevant caps apply). Amounts are available on the website. The difference between your counted income and your standard allowance plus elements should be the amount of Universal Credit you can receive in each monthly assessment period. 

If you were previously claiming Universal Credit prior to starting your studies at Queen Mary University, then your assessment period is likely to be different as your claim would have an earlier start date than the start of the academic year. 
As Universal Credit calculations are complicated, you are welcome to contact a Welfare Adviser for help with this. 

Financial Assistance Fund at Queen Mary

Students with children are normally expected to cover their essential living costs through Student Finance, welfare benefits, employment or their own funding. However, if you are experiencing financial hardship, you can apply to the Queen Mary Financial Assistance Fund (FAF) for financial assistance for some help meeting your additional costs, usually in the form of a non-repayable grant.  

Undergraduate students must take out their Maximum Maintenance Loan entitlement before applying to the FAF. They can be assessed for a Standard Award to help meet the general living costs associated with being a student, which can include child related costs. There are also Exceptional Awards for unforeseen costs or exceptional circumstances.  

  • Postgraduate students are expected to have made reasonable provision to fund their course, but can apply to the FAF for an Exceptional Award if they have unforeseen costs or if their funding is unexpectedly disrupted.  
  • Part-time postgraduate students can apply to the FAF but are usually only able to be considered for course related costs.  

Students can apply in each year of the course and more than once if your circumstances change during the academic year. 

You can apply in MySIS. More information about how to apply, eligibility criteria and important deadlines are on the Financial Assistance Fund webpage 

If you are eligible for welfare benefits, any grant you get from the FAF is not counted as income because it is paid to you for course related costs. If you need any evidence that a payment is from the FAF please contact  

Choosing childcare 

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to make childcare arrangements while you are studying. You will need to decide what kind of childcare setting you would like; whether you want this to be close to home or close to the university; how many hours do you need each week; and of course what is the cost and what financial help is available. There is guidance on finding and choosing childcare services on the Coram website 

There is a Nursery at Queen Mary, on the Mile End campus.

Paying for childcare

The Coram website has information about help with childcare costs. Eligibility will depend on your circumstances. The guidance includes information about free early education depending on the age of your child(ren). If you are an international student and your immigration permission has a ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition, please note that any free childcare which is only available to people receiving certain benefits will not be available to you, because you are not allowed to claim welfare benefits. This is explained in the guidance. 

If you are eligible for undergraduate government Student Finance and you have dependent children, and you are a lone parent or have a partner on a low income, you can apply for a Childcare Grant from Student Finance England (SFE) to pay 85% of your childcare costs up to a maximum weekly amount.

You do not have to repay this money. The amount you get depends on your household income. If you have a partner, the income thresholds for the Childcare Grant are lower than for the Maintenance Loan.

To qualify, your childcare provider must be on the Ofsted Early Years Register or General Childcare Register - check with your provider. If your child is cared for at home, the carer cannot be a relative and must be registered with an appropriate body - check with Student Finance England.

You apply online as part of your main Student Finance application. You will need to provide evidence. For more information check the website.

You may also be eligible to apply to the Financial Assistance Fund for help towards childcare costs.  

School age children

Most children start school full-time in the September after their fourth birthday. This means they’ll turn 5 during their first school year. There is guidance on the website about applying for a school place. Remember that you may still need to pay for before or after school care depending on your study commitments.  

Further information for parents

Family Lives -parental support and information, including a free phone helpline for help with any aspect of parenting and family life. 
Gingerbread - support for single parents.  Information on a wide range of issues.  
Advice and support is available via a phone line or live chat.   

Coram Family and Childcare - free information about childcare.  
NSPCC positive parenting guide  
Care for the Family – helping parents survive and thrive  

Back to top