council tax exemption and the unfunded 4th year


Does anyone know how it works for council tax exemption when you move into the 4th unfunded year. I was told that I would be no longer exempt from council tax payments in my 4th year as I am no longer funded by the university and therefore able to get full time employment. I will need the 4th to write up my thesis and may be able to get some part-time work. I wanted to say to the person who told me this information how can I pay for council tax when the chances are very high that I won't magically have a job by the time my funding runs out. What I will have is a unfunded 4th year and no job, where is the money for the council tax??!!


Hi there,

You are in the UK, right?

Well, for all I know as long as you are a registered student you are exempt from Council Tax. So if you are still registered with your University (no matter if you get funding) and are a full-time student, you do not have to pay it. All they ask for is proof of (re-)registration for the year, and then you are systematically exempt.

As far as the part-time job is concerned, I'm not a 100% sure, but I suppose there is some kind of limit to what you can earn as a student and still be exempt. But I'm fairly sure you won't earn enough to justify paying it.

If in doubt you should ask your local council, really.

Hope that reassures you a bit :-)


It's a bit irrelevant because I'm confident you will be exempt, but also, anyway, I remember now as it happened to me a few years ago: you are exempt from Council tax if unemployed, and I am positive they cut down the monthly amount if you are on a very low income...


Council Tax exemption has nothing to do with whether you are funded by the uni or not unless you are part-time. As Nadia said, if you are registered as a full-time student (even if you earn millions) whether that is 1st year undergrad or 4th year writing up, you are exempt from council tax. Of course if you live with non-students then it is simply a reduction in the amount. If you live alone/with other students you will pay no council tax.

Manchester City Council have just sent me a revised bill to confirm this, so if your uni refuses to give you the exemption letter, or if your local council has problems, you need to explain this. Who was it who told you (just curious)?!


Thanks for your reply Nadia. Yes, I am UK based. I heard of a case and I am not sure of the exact details, but I think the case concerned a 4th year unfunded student. The argument seemed to be that because the student didn't have to be physically on campus (and even though they were still a registered student) meant they were considered to be no longer exempt. Anyway, like you say if a person is not employed then there would be an exemption. As for part-time work, yes it will surely not be enough to make council tax payments!


I'm not sure this is as clear-cut as people are suggesting... according to my uni, students in their writing-up year aren't *automatically* exempt, though I think there's an understanding between the uni and the local council and they're *treated* as exempt.

(I think this may have to do with the difference between being 'registered' and being 'enrolled'... maybe you're only 'enrolled' for three years for full-time study, though you're still 'registered' while writing up... ?)

Avatar for sneaks

I don't think you are technically excempt BUT I have a letter saying "sneaks is a full time student until October 2011" - I actually finish in oct 2010 - but because I will still be technically registered with the uni - I use this letter to get myself an extra year of freedom yay! Pays to be friendly with admin staff for this kind of thing!


I don't know if it works the same way at all unis, but I have just started my 4th year, and although I am still registered with the university, they call it 'continuation status'. Basically, because my funding has run out, if I were to re-enrol as a full-time student I would have to pay full fees which were previously covered by the funding (which are over £3000), but as I'm nearly finished I can pay ~£200 and then still be registered with the uni on continuation, but it's not the same as being a full-time student.

In reality it seems nothing has changed, but strictly speaking I should no longer be entitled to council tax exemption. I too have got a letter from a nice admin person which states my end date as being my maximum registration date which is next year, so I certainly won't be letting the council know (I've got less money now than when I was receiving my stipend from the PhD funding, so have nothing to pay the council tax with!). Also, being unemployed does not automatically make you exempt from council tax, you need to be on benefits I think.

If your uni is different though and you are definitely still registered as a full time student (regardless of whether you are being paid) then you are still exempt from council tax. It's because the council who make the rules don't understand how a PhD works- just because you're writing up rather than still doing the research doesn't mean it's not still a full time commitment!

Hope this helps :-)


You're not necessarily exempt. At my uni, there was an agreement with the local council that overtime students (i.e. 4th year writing up students) were exempt. This changed in August 2009, and overtime students are no longer exempt. Which is nice of them :-(


I remember a case recently where Islington council took a 4th year PhD student to court for non-payment. It was immediately thrown out by the judge because it was blatently obvious that the student was working full time on their PhD.


Quote From sylvester:

I remember a case recently where Islington council took a 4th year PhD student to court for non-payment. It was immediately thrown out by the judge because it was blatently obvious that the student was working full time on their PhD.

That case did indeed happen but it appears the court was rather hasty in throwing it out (and quite possibly in error). Fayad v Lewisham, Oct 2009, established that students who are writing up are not considered to be students for council tax purposes and are therefore not exempt from council tax.

So, if your University provides you with information for council tax purposes that says you are a student when in fact you are writing up is in fact breaking the law. And, of course, if you use such information to gain council tax exemption, you too are breaking the law. Oh, and by the way, Local Authorities do check!

I'm not saying that this is fair or otherwise, but that the law is pretty clear on it.


Not sure if it helps, but unfunded (1st year, FT) and don't pay council tax....I think that as long as your registered at a FT student at your uni you're exempt.