Child Benefit if your child is in further education or training

When your child reaches 16 you can still get Child Benefit for them. But they'll need to be staying in full-time 'non-advanced' education (usually at school or college), or starting an 'approved' training course. Find out what this means and what types of courses count.

On this page:

What type of education counts for Child Benefit?

Education counts for Child Benefit if it's full-time, 'non-advanced' education. Your child needs to have started, enrolled or been accepted onto a course that counts before their 19th birthday.

'Full-time' means that, on average, more than 12 hours a week in term time is spent on:

  • tuition
  • practical work
  • supervised study
  • taking exams
  • work experience if it's part of your child's course of education

It doesn't include breaks for meals and homework.

'Non-advanced' education includes the following:

  • GCSEs
  • A levels
  • International GCSEs (IGCSEs)
  • Pre-U
  • International Baccalaureate
  • NVQ/SVQ level 1, 2 or 3
  • BTEC, National Certificate and 1st Diploma
  • SCE higher grade or similar
  • Traineeships as part of 16-19 Study Programmes in England

This isn't a complete list. If you're not sure whether your child's education counts, you can contact the Child Benefit Office for further advice.

Contact details for the Child Benefit Office

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Courses that don't count for Child Benefit

You can't get Child Benefit if your child is doing an 'advanced' education course. Examples of advanced education courses include:

  • a degree
  • Diploma of Higher Education (DHE)
  • NVQ level 4 or above
  • BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • teacher training

This isn't a complete list. If you're not sure whether your child is doing an advanced education course you can contact the Child Benefit Office for further advice.

Contact details for the Child Benefit Office

Correspondence course

You can't usually get Child Benefit if your child is taking a correspondence course. This is because they're unlikely to do more than 12 hours a week of supervised study.

Sandwich courses

There are two types of sandwich course:

  • college-based - this is where your child spends periods away from college doing practical training with their employer
  • work-based - where your child is employed as an apprentice or trainee, and takes a full-time college or school course

You may be able to get Child Benefit if your child is on a college-based course but it would need to be full-time and non-advanced. You won't qualify if your child is on a work-based course.

Studying abroad

You can usually only get Child Benefit for the first 12 weeks that your child is away. But you'll keep getting it after this if the only reason they are abroad is because they are either:

  • in education that counts for Child Benefit in a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • on an educational exchange or visit providing your child has the written agreement of their school or college

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What type of training counts for Child Benefit?

You can get Child Benefit if your child is over 16 and is doing a course of 'approved' training. Your child needs to have started, enrolled or been accepted onto an unwaged approved course before their 19th birthday.

Approved courses are as follows:

  • England - Access to Apprenticeships
  • Wales - Foundation Apprenticeships, Traineeships or Skillbuild/Skillbuild+ (if started before 1 August 2011)
  • Scotland - Employability Fund programmes or Get Ready for Work (if started before 1 April 2013)
  • Northern Ireland - Training for Success: Professional and Technical Training, including Programme Led Apprenticeships (Apprenticeships NI), Pathways to Success - Pathways for Young People and Collaboration and Innovation Programme

A course provided by an employer as part of a job contract doesn't count as approved.

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If your child is under 18 and leaves education or training

You can often get Child Benefit extended for up to 20 weeks if both of the following apply:

  • your child is under 18 and leaves education or training that counts for Child Benefit
  • your child registers for work, training or education

They'll need to have registered with a 'qualifying body’ such as a careers service, Connexions or local authority support service.

Find out about Child Benefit for under 18s who leave education or training

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Breaks in your child's education or training

You must tell the Child Benefit Office if there is a break to your child's education or training. They need to know so that they can work out whether you can still get Child Benefit. They can usually carry on paying Child Benefit for up to six months if there is a good reason for the break, for example:

  • your child is ill
  • your child is moving from one college to another
  • if someone is ill or has died that is close to your child
  • your child is pregnant

You can't normally get Child Benefit if your child has taken a voluntary break in education or training that counts for Child Benefit. For example, if they travel overseas for personal reasons.

Your child might not go back into education or training that counts for Child Benefit. If they don't you may have to pay back some of the Child Benefit you got during the break. The amount will depend on when your child decided not to go back.

The Child Benefit Office may be able to pay Child Benefit for longer than six months. This could be if your child is in hospital, residential care or getting medical treatment abroad, and you still spend money on them.

Child Benefit for children in hospital or residential care

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Your child goes back into education or training

Your child might go back to education or start a training course after a break - for example after a period of unemployment. As long as the education or training counts for Child Benefit, you'll usually be able to get Child Benefit for them.

You'll need to make another claim if your Child Benefit had previously stopped because you no longer qualified for it.

Your child needs to have started, enrolled or been accepted onto a course that counts for Child Benefit before their 19th birthday for you to qualify.

Find out how to claim Child Benefit

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Keeping the Child Benefit Office up to date

You must tell the Child Benefit Office about any changes to your child's education or training as soon as possible. If you don't, your Child Benefit payments may stop or you may be paid too much. You must tell the Child Benefit Office if your child:

  • starts or leaves education or training that counts for Child Benefit earlier or later than you told them they would
  • starts education that's provided by their employer as part of their job, or starts getting a wage for their approved training
  • stops one course and starts another one
  • goes abroad to study for longer than 12 weeks
  • cuts their education to on average 12 hours or less per week during term time
  • starts a course of advanced education

Find out about Child Benefit changes you need to report

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If you or your partner have an individual income of more than £50,000

You or your partner could be liable to a tax charge called the 'High Income Child Benefit charge'. Changes to the number of children either of you are entitled to receive Child Benefit for could affect your tax.

Instead of paying the tax charge, you or your partner could have decided not to receive Child Benefit payments. But you must still keep the Child Benefit Office up to date if any of the changes explained in the section just above happen.

High Income Child Benefit charge

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Contacting the Child Benefit Office

You can contact the Child Benefit Office in a number of ways. You can tell them about any changes or ask for advice:

  • online, by using the relevant links below
  • by calling the Child Benefit Helpline
  • by writing to the Child Benefit Office

Report changes online that may affect your Child Benefit

Send in your Child Benefit query online

Contact details for the Child Benefit Helpline and Office

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