Date last updated: 4 August 2021

Information for single parent students

Many single parents take on the challenge of studying as a single parent successfully. If you’re thinking about going to college or university there are lots of things to plan, as well as the major decision about what to study. Some key things to consider are:

  • Finances – how to pay for course fees and living costs
  • Benefits and tax credits while studying
  • Work – leaving work or reducing your working hours to make time to study
  • Childcare – exploring your options and funding for childcare.


Reducing your working hours

Depending on what type of course you will be doing, and how much of your time will be taken up with your studies; you may decide to reduce your working hours. You might even decide to leave your job completely. Check our interactive advice on changing your hours, job or pay and see our online guide about leaving work.

How your tax credits are affected

If you’re currently receiving tax credits and leave your job or reduce your hours, the amount of tax credits you receive will probably change. See our factsheet on tax credits when your circumstances change for more information on what to do and when.

If you don’t currently receive tax credits, and are reducing your working hours or leaving your job, you may be able to start claiming them when you start your course. Find out how to make a claim.

Don’t forget to check whether you’ll be entitled to benefits once you reduce your hours or leave work.  Use this online calculator to work out if you can claim benefits for the first time, or if an existing claim will change when your work pattern changes.


If you haven’t used childcare regularly before see this guide to find out about providers and costs, as well as tax credits and other funding.

There are several schemes that offer financial support for childcare while you study at a further education college. Discretionary learner support, is available directly through your college to pay for childcare while you study. There is also a care-to-learn childcare scheme for those aged under 20.

For more information about funding schemes and grants for childcare available to further education students, see our factsheets on money for further education.

Childcare at university

If you’re thinking of studying at a university there are childcare schemes and support available including the childcare grant. For more information see our factsheet on money for higher education.

Blurred background image - mostly grey with pinks, whites and blues

Getting support from others

You might want to share your experiences and get support from friends or other single parents who have been in education. Joining a group, like a Gingerbread friendship group or chatting to other single parents in our online forums can be helpful and supportive. You can also read stories from single parents who have returned to education.

Vimi is a single mum who started her degree at 30. See how she balances her studies with raising her young son.

Funding your studies as a single parent

If you are interested in studying as a single parent, you may be considering how to fund your studies. Read our factsheet on getting financial support for further education.

See what financial help is available

New Report