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Council Tax for Students
What you need to know
If you live in university halls of residence, or in a house where everyone is classed as a full-time student for Council Tax purposes, you’ll be exempt from paying any Council Tax.
The rules are different if you live with someone who is not a full-time student – but your household could still get a discount.
Exemption from Council Tax
A place that is only occupied by full-time students is exempt from Council Tax. So if you live in university halls - or a house where everyone is a full-time student - you shouldn’t receive a Council Tax bill.
If you think you should be exempt but are still getting a bill, you can apply to the local council for exemption.
How do I know if I'm considered as a full-time student?
Normally you will be considered a full-time student for Council Tax purposes if:
- You attend a university or college course lasting for at least one academic year - this is as long as you attend for at least 24 weeks out of the year and study for at least 21 hours per week during term time.
- You are under 20 and your course leads to a qualification up to (but not above) A level standard or equivalent, as long as it lasts for more than 3 months and involves more than 12 hours of study per week.
However, not all courses count towards 'full-time student' status.
For example, it doesn't usually apply to distance learning or evening classes. Also, you won’t be classed as a full-time student if you’re doing a course related to your job, e.g. day release.
You must also be studying at a 'prescribed place of education' - this will include established universities and most colleges.
In the end though, it's up to your local council to decide. If you're at all uncertain, contact them and check.
What if I live with someone who's not a full-time student?
Council Tax is charged per 'dwelling' or household, and each household gets a single Council Tax bill.
If there's someone in the household who's not a full-time student the household will get a bill, but may qualify for a discount on the full amount.
How do I work out who is 'counted' for Council Tax purposes?
A full Council Tax bill is based on two adults living in a household - if there’s fewer than two, the household can get a discount.
For Council Tax purposes, certain types of people are not 'counted' towards the number of adults in a household - the bill is worked out as if they weren’t living there. This includes individuals who are:
- considered a full-time student for Council Tax purposes (see the section above 'How do I know if I'm considered as a full-time student?')
doing a course which leads to a first registration as a nurse or midwife
- doing an Apprenticeship which leads to a qualification recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency - provided they don’t earn over a certain amount (currently £195 per week)
- under 25 and in a recognised form of full-time training funded by either the Skills Funding Agency or the Young People's Learning Agency.
Council Tax discounts
A household where everyone is a full-time student is exempt from Council Tax and won’t get a bill. See the section above - 'Exemption from Council Tax’ - for more about exemption.
If your household has fewer than two adults who are counted for Council Tax purposes, it will qualify for a discount on the full amount.
If there’s only one, you’ll get 25 per cent off . If the household doesn’t have any adults who are counted - but is not exempt - it qualifies for a reduction of 50 per cent.
Be aware that the household may qualify for other forms of financial help on top of the student discount.
Who is responsible for paying the bill?
While households can decide among themselves who contributes what, the law sets out who is actually responsible for paying the bill.
Members of a household are divided into categories - owner-occupier, tenant and so on - and for most households the person responsible is the one who appears nearest the top of the list which you can find in 'Council Tax - who pays and how much' on the Directgov website.
If there are two or more household members who fall into the same category, they’re usually jointly responsible for paying the whole bill.
However, the rules are different if you’re considered a full-time student or not 'counted' because you’re in education or training.
In this situation, you can only be held responsible if you - and only you - are in a category that's higher up the list than all other members of your household For example, you are an owner-occupier and everyone else in the house is a tenant.
Applying for a student discount
To get a student discount on your Council Tax, you’ll need an official letter from your college or university giving details about you and your course.
Go here to find out what your local council needs to process your application, and how to apply for a discount.