Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Student Finance for Part time OU student

I received a phone call yesterday from a compliance Officer while I am in hospital telling me that because I received student finance from 2016 it should have been included as income in my income related ESA. I declared this to my work related officer and she said it would be fine and yet now I am getting a phone call saying that it should’ve been deducted from my income related ESA does anyone know if this applies to me. To be clear I receive income related ESA I took a student finance loan out to do a part time OU degree back in 2016 which I stopped in 2019 and I also receive higher rate component for care and mobility on PIP as I am disabled. I can only seem to find information about full-time students but nothing that applies to part-time.

Replies

  • Si_ObhanSi_Obhan Member Posts: 34 Courageous
    edited February 2020
    I found this question while looking for info on being a disabled student. I am sure someone will be along with better advice but I noticed you didn’t say whether you got the loan for course fees or for living costs. They are treated differently for benefit purposes. You still have to declare both. If you are entitled to a loan for living costs you are meant to take it as DWP will still treat you as though you took it. My understanding is that my advance learner loan for access course fees wont be deducted from my ESA and nor will my tuition fee loan but my maintenance loan will be. It will be deducted pound for pound from my ESA during term time (with £150 per year allowance for materials and books). You can sometimes get a maintenance loan for online study if you have a disability that means it would be difficult to study in person. Also I think for masters (not sure about other levels) they deduct some money even if it’s for tuition fees. Was it an undergraduate course? Just asking as that info might help someone get to the bottom of it with you.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    HI and welcome,

    Yes, maintenance loans are treated as income and will affect means tested benefits. The loan should have been reported to DWP.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • loopeyloopey Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Thank you for all your replies very helpful. I only received tuition fees e.g. student finance for a part-time OU degree Which started in 2016 and the only other thing that I received was disability student allowance I did not receive a maintenance loan for living costs and I informed my workplace advisor face-to-face that I had applied For student finance for a degree because we had a discussion about how I could improve my Chances of getting work.
  • Si_ObhanSi_Obhan Member Posts: 34 Courageous
    If a maintenance loan was available to you as a disabled student doing part time distance learning I believe they will still count it as though you took it out. It seems a bit unfair as it’s counted as a loan that has to be repaid and benefits are not but I think the premise is that the ESA is a safety net when you have no other income available to use to live on. They would say you chose not to take the loan out.

    Maintenance loans are available for part time study now, and distance learning if you’re studying that way as you can’t attend in person due to health. This could be the reason. Years ago I looked into going back to education and no maintenance was available for part time or distance learning so I didn’t bother. I’m not sure how long ago the rules changed but I think the finance was available in 2016-17.

    Have they said why you were overpaid? It does seem unfair if you did inform them and weren’t told you should take out all finance available to you. If there is an overpayment it will more than likely be put down as a mistake and not fraud. If you did tell them and it’s recorded you may not have to pay anything back because it would be “departmental error” and written off. If it’s a genuine mistake on your part ie you were entitled to a maintenance loan but didn’t take it, you won’t have to pay the ESA back all at once. You can have repayments reduced to an affordable amount.

    I’ve already asked informally over the phone whether my study will affect my income related benefit entitlement and I’m going to inform them by letter and record the delivery just so this doesn’t happen to me. It’s so confusing that most benefit calculators don’t take into account students. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Si_Obhan said:
    If a maintenance loan was available to you as a disabled student doing part time distance learning I believe they will still count it as though you took it out.
    Yes, you are correct here it will count in this instance.

    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • loopeyloopey Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Thanks for your advice but I am still confused I never applied or received a maintenance loan only tuition fee loan and my question is does this affect income related ESA as for informing them I am going to request the notes of my meetings to see what was written down as I have no other proof.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    edited February 2020
    A loan for fee's is not counted as income BUT usually when applying for student loan if there's a maintenance loan available to you and you chose not to take that loan then it will still be counted as income, whether you received it or not. So the question is was there a maintenance loan available to you?
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • loopeyloopey Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Okay this makes more sense thank you I will check you have been very helpful.
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