The Student Room Group

Phd stipend and universal credit

Hello, I'm looking into applying for a PhD come this fall. However, my partner currently claims universal credit. We already have a joint claim and her payments are made by taking my wage into account. This then goes through the process of deductions based on what I earn which then reflects on her payments.

My question is if I successfully gain entrance to a phd programme and receive a stipend. Will the stipend undergo the same scrutiny as my wage does and if not how will it affect her universal credit payments?

I've spoken to universal credit on the phone, but they weren't very helpful and couldn't give me a clear answer. Presumably someone on here has done this and has some experience of the matter?
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 1
The answer is usually 'yes'.
Original post by CClem88
Hello, I'm looking into applying for a PhD come this fall. However, my partner currently claims universal credit. We already have a joint claim and her payments are made by taking my wage into account. This then goes through the process of deductions based on what I earn which then reflects on her payments.

My question is if I successfully gain entrance to a phd programme and receive a stipend. Will the stipend undergo the same scrutiny as my wage does and if not how will it affect her universal credit payments?

I've spoken to universal credit on the phone, but they weren't very helpful and couldn't give me a clear answer. Presumably someone on here has done this and has some experience of the matter?

Hi @CClem88,

It's a tricky one because the majority of PhD stipends aren't usually classed as taxable income even though they are, in essence, a wage.

For example, my stipend isn't taken into account for council tax purposes (allowing our household to claim the 25% council tax discount) or for the purposes of the married couples tax allowance (allowing me to transfer some of my tax allowance to my partner). It's also not considered income by the majority of mortgage providers and some personal finance companies.

The rules do seem to vary from department to department and circumstance to circumstance though, so it is definitely worth getting specialist advice for your circumstances. Citizens Advice (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/) are usually very helpful, and your university's student support and/or finance office might also be able to offer specialist support and assistance.

Amy Louise :smile:
Reply 3
Thanks for the reply. This is along the lines of what I was thinking. There doesn't seem to be any standardised ruling for stipends and I can't seem to find any reliable information online.

I shall speak to citizens advice as you said. It definitely seems like the best option. Hopefully I can get a clear answer and then create a plan from there.
I am trying to get a reply from UC as well at the moment as I have applied for PhD and as a single parent I have no idea whether I can afford it or not, but they are completely unable to help me with any figures! The only think they have said is that 'If you were in receipt of the stipend, this would reduce your UC payment, as the full calculated amount is taken into account each month for which it would apply'. I can't make head nor tail of that!!! I will call the CAB too :smile: Thanks
Original post by ericarandall
I am trying to get a reply from UC as well at the moment as I have applied for PhD and as a single parent I have no idea whether I can afford it or not, but they are completely unable to help me with any figures! The only think they have said is that 'If you were in receipt of the stipend, this would reduce your UC payment, as the full calculated amount is taken into account each month for which it would apply'. I can't make head nor tail of that!!! I will call the CAB too :smile: Thanks


Essentially they will take x percentage from your monthly payments as they see a stipend as income.

So if you are entitled to say £1000 pcm UC, and your stipend is £1300, your UC would then be 'deducted' by probs 30%, meaning you would get £700 pcm from UC.

Hope that makes sense!
P.s. I made those figures up/rough estimates :smile:
Reply 6
Original post by ericarandall
I am trying to get a reply from UC as well at the moment as I have applied for PhD and as a single parent I have no idea whether I can afford it or not, but they are completely unable to help me with any figures! The only think they have said is that 'If you were in receipt of the stipend, this would reduce your UC payment, as the full calculated amount is taken into account each month for which it would apply'. I can't make head nor tail of that!!! I will call the CAB too :smile: Thanks


It's honestly really frustrating. I can appreciate why so many people struggle, the lack of communication is laughable. We're still no further forward now and it doesn't show any signs of being resolved soon either.

Can I ask what "CAB" is please?

Thanks
Original post by Noodlzzz
Essentially they will take x percentage from your monthly payments as they see a stipend as income.

So if you are entitled to say £1000 pcm UC, and your stipend is £1300, your UC would then be 'deducted' by probs 30%, meaning you would get £700 pcm from UC.

Hope that makes sense!
P.s. I made those figures up/rough estimates :smile:

Hi,
Thanks for the reply, it is very helpful. It's a mega worry not being able to work out what the heck I'll be getting! Any idea what would happen if I was to do a few bank NHS shifts? That would probably blow their minds! :smile:
Erica
Original post by CClem88
It's honestly really frustrating. I can appreciate why so many people struggle, the lack of communication is laughable. We're still no further forward now and it doesn't show any signs of being resolved soon either.

Can I ask what "CAB" is please?

Thanks


CAB is the Citizen's Advice Bureau - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/help-to-claim/
Original post by ericarandall
Hi,
Thanks for the reply, it is very helpful. It's a mega worry not being able to work out what the heck I'll be getting! Any idea what would happen if I was to do a few bank NHS shifts? That would probably blow their minds! :smile:
Erica


I'm not sure if you mentioned if you are in NHS based PhD?

If not, then you may have trouble claiming UC at all as *I think* UC is for those who are not working. A stipend from a PhD is considered income but from student status not employment.
Reply 10
Original post by ericarandall
Hi,
Thanks for the reply, it is very helpful. It's a mega worry not being able to work out what the heck I'll be getting! Any idea what would happen if I was to do a few bank NHS shifts? That would probably blow their minds! :smile:
Erica


I've spoken to a friend who has a phd regarding the working situation. You can work whilst doing a PhD but this does change institution to institution. So you'd need to check the individual criteria for each uni, which is a pain. I'm also looking at either nhs bank work or locum work to supplement if we can't get UC sorted.
Original post by Noodlzzz
I'm not sure if you mentioned if you are in NHS based PhD?

If not, then you may have trouble claiming UC at all as *I think* UC is for those who are not working. A stipend from a PhD is considered income but from student status not employment.


So the PhD is a joint industrial fellowship with Marie Curie and the University, so would be full time education.
Original post by CClem88
I've spoken to a friend who has a phd regarding the working situation. You can work whilst doing a PhD but this does change institution to institution. So you'd need to check the individual criteria for each uni, which is a pain. I'm also looking at either nhs bank work or locum work to supplement if we can't get UC sorted.


Minefield! I'm just trying to speak to the CAB now...
Original post by CClem88
It's honestly really frustrating. I can appreciate why so many people struggle, the lack of communication is laughable. We're still no further forward now and it doesn't show any signs of being resolved soon either.

Can I ask what "CAB" is please?

Thanks

So I have spoken to UC and to CAB. In my circumstances where I am single, with two children, paying for childcare for one of them, my usual award is around £1050 before they start making deductions from my normal salary currently. If I were to start a PhD and get a stipend of 16k/year, they would use the full amount against my UC award, so I would get £0 each month. I own my own house so I don't get the housing portion of the benefit. Not sure I can afford it without taking a postgrad loan. Did I see someone saying somewhere that once they had got the loan they then were entitled to UC? How bizarre! ARGH!
Original post by ericarandall
I am trying to get a reply from UC as well at the moment as I have applied for PhD and as a single parent I have no idea whether I can afford it or not, but they are completely unable to help me with any figures! The only think they have said is that 'If you were in receipt of the stipend, this would reduce your UC payment, as the full calculated amount is taken into account each month for which it would apply'. I can't make head nor tail of that!!! I will call the CAB too :smile: Thanks


Hi how did this work out I'm in a similar situation offered a PhD as a single parent worried whether I can make it work

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