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Postgraduate Loans in Wales

Want to find out about student finance for postgraduate study in Wales? This nation offers a postgraduate loan scheme – but only for students studying a full master's degree. Read on for our complete guide.

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How much can you get in 2019Are you eligible for postgraduate finance?Is your course eligible?EU or international studentsGetting postgraduate finance in WalesLoan repaymentsNext steps  

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Postgraduate finance: how much can you get in 2019?

In Wales, students can apply for £17,000 for study at master's level, comprised of a loan and a grant. It's the only scheme in the UK where household income is taken into account, determining the level of grant you receive. Unlike the loan, you won't have to repay the grant!

This funding is for master's level study only – and it must be a full master's course, not a 'top-up'. It covers the whole course, whether it's full-time over one to two years, or part-time for up to four years. The money is evenly split across the number of years the course runs.

The funding is paid directly to you, and can be used for your master's tuition fees and living costs. If your household income is £18,370 or below you are entitled to the maximum grant of £6,885 and a loan of £10,155. If your household income is £59,200 or more – or if you don't wish to give details of your income – you can get a non-means tested grant of £1,000, plus a loan of up to £16,000. You do not have to take out the full amount of loan you are entitled to, but can still claim your grant.

You can also claim disabled students' allowances (DSA), if you are eligible for this support.

If you already have an undergraduate loan that is eligible to be repaid, repayments will only be taken if you are earning above the income threshold. Your loan does not count as income for loan repayments.

It's worth bearing in mind that postgraduate tuition fees vary widely, with some degrees costing more than the amount of loan you will receive. See the link at the foot of this page to our annual survey of university tuition fees to find out more.

Are you eligible for postgraduate finance?

You must meet all the following criteria to be eligible for a postgraduate loan in Wales:

  • Age: You must be under 60 years old on the first day of the first academic year of your master's course (which could start in September, January, April or July).
  • Where you normally live: You must normally live in Wales. Moving to Wales for undergraduate study does not count, unless you remained there to work afterwards. If you were from Wales and only moved elsewhere in the UK to study at undergraduate level, you can apply to Student Finance Wales for postgraduate funding.
  • How long you've lived in the UK: You must be a UK national or have 'settled status' (i.e. no restriction on how long you can stay), and have lived in the UK for at least three years before you start your course. EU nationals can also apply, if they've been living in the UK or within the EEA or Switzerland for the past three years. See further down this page for details.
  • Your previous qualifications: You must be studying for your first master's level course. You won't get funding if you already have a qualification at the same level or higher – even if you funded this yourself, or it wasn't from a UK university. You'll still be eligible if you have a PGCE, a postgraduate diploma or certificate. Also, if you have an MA from a Scottish university, or from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford or Trinity College Dublin, as these are at a lower level.

You can't get a postgraduate master's loan if you previously had postgraduate funding from anywhere else in the UK. This is unless you had to withdraw from a course for a compelling reason such as illness or bereavement. You also won't be eligible if you receive any other 'public' funding, such as a healthcare or social work bursary for your course.

If you have any question about your eligibility, it is worth checking with your nation's student finance body. Contact details are at the foot of this page.

Is your course eligible for postgraduate finance?

Your course must also meet the following criteria (for master's courses starting after 1st August 2019):

  • Provider: It must be provided by an approved university or college in the UK (including the Open University).
  • What type of course is eligible? It can be 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.
  • What type of course isn't eligible? Courses that are not eligible include master's degrees that are integrated into an undergraduate or doctoral course. A master's integrated into an undergraduate degree receives undergraduate funding, while those integrated into a doctoral course are eligible for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan. Also not eligible are postgraduate certificates and diplomas. This includes PGCEs, which are covered by undergraduate funding. For a course to be eligible for a master's loan, it must be a stand-alone master's course, not a 'top up'. If you're not sure whether your course falls into this category, check with the provider.
  • Distance learning? A master's course can be studied by distance learning. You'll need to be living in Wales on the first day of the first academic year of your course. You'll also need to live in the UK thereafter – or remain in Wales, if you are an EU national. The exception is made for students in the armed forces (or their dependent relative) who are posted outside of Wales.
  • Any limit on the course length? Courses can be one to two years if studied full-time. Part-time courses can be from two to four year's duration.

What about EU or international students?

EU-resident students may be eligible for postgraduate loans in Wales. You need to have lived in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for at least the past three years, and attend a university in Wales. Brexit is not set to have any immediate impact on funding; Wales has confirmed that EU students starting a degree in 2020–21 will remain eligible.

If you are from outside the EU, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for a postgraduate loan. Exceptions may include refugees or those with similar circumstances; EEA or Swiss migrant workers; or if you are the child of a migrant worker, Swiss national or Turkish worker. However there are often scholarships and bursaries for international students studying at postgraduate level, so check what your university has to offer.

If you are unsure whether you are considered a UK, EU or international student, please check with the relevant student finance body. Details for Student Finance Wales are at the foot of this page. 

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How do you get postgraduate finance in Wales?

Postgraduate master's finance applications in Wales are made online or by post to Student Finance Wales. 

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

You'll need to provide evidence of your identity such as a valid UK passport or, if you don't have one, your birth or adoption certificate. EU nationals will need their passport, or national identity card. Students who apply for income-based amounts will need to give evidence of their household income.

The money will be paid to you, not the university. The funding is for the duration of your course, and will be split pro-rata if your course lasts longer than one year. The annual amount will then be paid in three instalments each year after the course start date, once your university has confirmed your registration.

Number of years of study

Full-time or part-time

What is the maximum total (grant plus loan) per year?

One

Full-time

£17,000

Two

Full-time

£8,500

Part-time

Three

Part-time

£5,666

Four

Part-time

£4,250

What are the loan repayments like?

You will repay your postgraduate loan at the same time as your undergraduate loan, although the terms of these loans are different.

As with undergraduate loans, repayments are relative to income. Postgraduate loans in Wales are repaid at 6% of income above £21,000 per year. For example, if you have an annual income of £30,000, you'll pay 6% of £9,000. This works out as a monthly payment of £45 if you only have a master's loan.

The amount you borrow is also subject to interest. In England and Wales, this is set at RPI+3%. RPI stands for 'retail price index' and is a measure of the rate of inflation. RPI+3% means that the interest paid on your loan will be the current RPI percentage, plus a further 3%.

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

Next steps for master's study…

Visit Student Finance Wales to find out more and apply for postgraduate finance in Wales. You'll need to either log in with your previous details if you've had a student loan before, or register to create an account. 

Use our Course Chooser to find postgraduate courses of interest to you, or see how each university rates at undergraduate level in our Subject Tables. 

For a guide to postgraduate tuition fees charged by each UK university, see our Reddin Survey of University Tuition Fees.