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Postgraduate student loans in Wales

Find out about postgraduate master’s loans in 2022/23 if you live in Wales – our guide outlines what you need to know.

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CONTENTS

  1. Postgraduate master’s loans and grants in Wales 2022/23

  2. Are you eligible for a master's loan in Wales?

  3. Is your course eligible for master's funding?

  4. Postgraduate finance for EU and international students

  5. How to apply for postgraduate finance in Wales

  6. Repaying your loan

Postgraduate master’s loans and grants in Wales 2022/23

If you’re from Wales, from August 2022 you can get £18,430 for postgrad study – the most generous support on offer in the UK. Even better, some of this money is a grant which you won’t have to repay. However, it can only be used if you’re studying a full master's course, not a 'top-up'.

You can use the money for your master's tuition fees or towards your living costs. Some degrees may cost more than the funding you receive. If so, you’ll need to find a way to pay the difference.

The postgraduate master’s funding is for the whole master's degree course. This applies whether it’s a full-time course for one year or a part-time course over four years. Once you’ve registered on your course, the money is paid to you three times a year.

Number of years of study

F/T or P/T

Maximum master’s loan + grant per year

One

Full-time

£18,430

Two

Full-time

£9,215

Part-time

Three

Part-time

£6,143.33

Four

Part-time

£4,607.50

Wales has the only scheme in the UK where household income is considered. This determines how much grant you are paid, between the maximum and minimum below:

  • If your household income is £18,370 or less, you’re entitled to the maximum grant of £6,885 and a loan of £11,545.
  • If your household income is £59,200 or more, you can get the minimum grant of £1,000 plus a loan of up to £17,430. The same applies if you don't want to give details of your income.

You don’t have to take out the full amount of loan you’re entitled to but can still claim your grant.

Unlike undergraduate students, you can’t apply for a childcare grant, parents’ learning allowance or adult dependent grant. You can still claim Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) if you’re eligible.

If you’re already paying back an undergraduate loan, repayments will only be taken if your income is over the threshold. Your master’s loan won’t count as income for loan repayments.

Are you eligible for a master's loan in Wales?

You must meet these criteria to qualify for a master’s loan from Wales:

  • Be a UK national, Irish citizen or have settled or pre-settled status i.e. without any restriction on how long you can stay in the UK
  • Normally live in Wales. If you moved there for an undergraduate degree then go straight into postgraduate study, that doesn’t count
  • Usually, you must have been living in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the three years before your course begins
  • Be under 60 years old when you start. If you change to a different course after you turn 60, you’ll lose your eligibility for the loan

Residency is a complex area after Brexit and there are exceptions to the above. We outline some of these in our page on student finance eligibility.

Your eligibility also depends on your previous studies and funding:

  • You won’t get a master’s loan if you had postgraduate funding before, unless you left your course because of illness or bereavement
  • You won’t get master’s funding if you already have a qualification at the same level or higher. Even if you funded it yourself, or it was from a university outside the UK
  • You won’t get a master’s loan if you’re behind on repayments for any other student loan
  • You also won’t get a loan if you currently receive a student loan for another course
  • You won’t qualify for a loan if you get public funding for your course, with the exception of social work students in Wales

If you have an undergraduate MA from a Scottish uni, or from Cambridge, Oxford or Trinity College Dublin, these are equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

On the other hand, if your first degree was an integrated master’s (such as MEng, MMath, MBiol) this counts as an equivalent qualification. You won’t be eligible for a master’s loan.

If you had a loan for a teaching PGCE, this is funded by undergraduate student finance. You will still be able to apply for a master’s loan.

From 1 August 2022, social work courses in Wales are an exception when it comes to master’s funding and social work bursaries. Students with a social work bursary who start an eligible course after this date can apply for a master’s loan from Wales.  You won’t be eligible for the grant element of the postgraduate master’s funding. You can apply for a loan up to £5,150, which takes your total funding up to £18,430.

 

Is your course eligible for master's funding?

You must be studying a taught or research-based master’s degree of 180 credits. This can include MSc, MA, MPhil, MRes, LLM, MLitt, MFA, MEd and MBA courses. Your course can be at any eligible uni in Wales, England, Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Courses that aren’t eligible for master’s funding include:

  • Top-up master’s degrees
  • Master’s degrees integrated into an undergraduate course (undergraduate loan)
  • Master’s degrees that are part of a doctoral course (covered by a doctoral loan)
  • Postgrad certificates and diplomas are usually ineligible for master’s funding. The exception is pre-registration healthcare courses in England

Postgraduate-level pre-registration courses in England are eligible for master’s funding from Student Finance Wales. This includes courses in Nursing, Midwifery or Allied Health Profession subjects. Eligible students from Wales can apply for master’s funding and for Learning Support funds offered by NHS England.

Intercalated master’s

Undergraduate degrees may sometimes offer the chance to take a year out to complete an intercalated master’s. Unlike an integrated master’s, which is part of an undergraduate degree, an intercalated degree is a separate qualification. It won’t be covered by your undergraduate funding, but you can apply for master’s finance if eligible. However, you’ll need to check how it affects your student finance on returning to complete your ‘lower’ degree afterwards.

Distance learning

If studying by distance learning, you'll need to be living in Wales on the first day of the first academic year of your course. After this, you may be able to move elsewhere in the UK and still be eligible for funding. Exceptions are made for students (or those with a dependent relative) in the armed forces who have been posted outside the UK.

Length of course

Courses can be one to two years if studied full-time. Part-time courses can be from two to four years in duration.

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Postgraduate finance for EU and international students

Following Brexit, students from the EU aren’t likely to qualify for a student loan from the UK. However, there may be exceptions. For more on Brexit arrangements, see our student finance eligibility page.

International students are also unlikely to get a master’s loan. Exceptions may include refugees or others granted the right to remain in the UK without restriction. However, international students studying at postgraduate level may be eligible for scholarships. Check with your university to see what might be available.

How to apply for postgraduate finance in Wales

You can apply online or by post to Student Finance Wales

You only need to apply once, rather than for each year of your course. You don't need a confirmed place as details can be updated later. Apply as soon as you can to make sure you receive funds before your course starts. The last date for application is nine months after the first day of the last academic year of your course.

You'll need evidence of your identity, such as a valid passport. You’ll also need three years’ evidence of your address. Students applying for income-based amounts will need to give details of their household income.

Repaying your loan

You’ll repay your master’s loan at the same time as your undergraduate loan, if you have one.

Postgraduate loans in Wales are repaid only if your income is above £21,000 a year, £1,750 a month, or £403 a week. (This is before tax or other deductions.) Unlike undergraduate loans, this threshold does not change each year. You repay 6% of any income above this amount.

For example, if your annual income is £30,000, that’s £9,000 more than the threshold. You'll pay 6% of £9,000. This works out as a monthly payment of £45 if you only have a master's loan.

If you have also an undergraduate loan from Wales (Plan 2), the income threshold is currently £27,295. If your salary is £30,000, that’s £2,705 more than the threshold. You’ll repay 9% of this £2,705. This works out as a monthly payment of £25.05, on top of the £45.00 for your master’s loan.

The amount you borrow is also charged interest. Postgraduate loan interest is usually tied to the cost of living, based on the retail price index (RPI) plus 3%. The RPI value changes each year in September, based on the retail price index from the previous March. Sometimes the rate may be capped for if similar loans are offering lower interest rates. For example, after inflation caused the RPI to climb to 9% in March 2022, the government capped the maximum interest rate at 6.3% from September 2022.

Repayments begin in April the year after you complete your course, but only once you’re above the income threshold. After 30 years, if you haven't repaid your master’s loan in full, the remaining amount will be written off.

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