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Postgraduate Student Loans in England

Master's loans are now available for students looking to study for a postgraduate degree in England. Check out our complete guide to find out all you need to know.

Click to skip to:
How do I apply • How much can I get in 2018 • How is my loan received • What are the repayments like • Eligibility (you, the loan, your course) • EU students • Find out more

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How do I apply for a master's loan?

You need to make your application for a master's loan online through Student Finance England. You will only have to apply once, even if your course lasts longer than a year. You don't have to apply right away: the deadline is 9 months after the first day of your final academic year.

How much can I get as a postgraduate loan in 2018?

For courses starting after 1st August 2018, the maximum postgraduate loan is £10,609. However, this is only for a full master's (ie up to 180 credits, not a 'top up' master's). For courses that began after 1st August 2017, students will only be able to borrow £10,280.

Master's loans do not take your household income into account, and you are still able to apply for grants from charitable trusts – so long as you are not receiving other 'public' money such as an NHS bursary, or other government funding.

You can borrow as much or as little as you want, up to the maximum amount. The postgraduate loan can be used for master's tuition fees and also living costs. Note, tuition fees vary considerably (see our annual Reddin tuition fees tables). If the course fees are higher than the amount of the postgraduate loan, you'll have to fund the difference. For example, although MBA courses are eligible, the full cost of the programme will usually be more than the £10,609 loan limit.

How is my master's loan received?

The money will be paid to you, not the university. If you are applying to study a master's degree that lasts longer than a year, the amount you'll get will be split over the duration of the course. You will receive the loan in three installments per year, with 33% of your annual allowance in the first two, and 34% in the third.

Number of years of study

Full-time or part-time

What is the maximum amount I can get per year?

One

Full-time

£10,609

Two

Full-time

£5,305

Part-time

Three

Part-time

£3,536

Four

Part-time

£2,652

What are the loan repayments like?

You will repay your postgraduate loan at the same time as any other student loans you have.

As with undergraduate loans, repayments will be made relative to income. Postgraduate loans are repaid at 6% on income above £21,000 per year. In other words, if you earn £25,000 per year, you would repay 6% of the £4,000 above the £21,000 threshold.

Interest rates are set at the rate of RPI+3%. RPI stands for 'retail price index' and essentially refers to the rate of inflation based on the price of goods and services in the UK. RPI+3% means that the interest paid on your loan will be the current RPI percentage, plus a further 3%. This is seen to be a favourable rate when compared to the commercial cost of loans for a similar amount.

Repayments will begin in April the year after you complete your course.

Postgraduate student loan debt will be cancelled after 30 years. However, given the assumed earning potential of a master's graduate, the government is confident that by this point the vast majority of graduates will have already repaid their debt.

London, England

Eligibility

Personal criteria

To be eligible for a postgraduate loan, you must:

  • Be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.
  • Be a UK national or have 'settled status' (ie no restriction on how long you can stay).
  • Have lived in the UK for at least three years prior to the first day of the academic year in which your course begins, and normally live in England. Exceptions to this are for those who are members of the UK armed forces, or if you are a dependent relative of someone in the armed forces.

Note that if you are a student from Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales who has lived in England for three years solely for the purposes of study, this time does not count as being ordinarily resident.

Funding criteria

  • If you receive Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), this will be unaffected by a postgraduate loan. Eligibility for DSA is separate from other financial support, so you can receive both DSA and a postgraduate loan.
  • If you are eligible for an NHS bursary, or have been awarded a Social Work Bursary (unless it's just for travel), you cannot get a postgraduate loan.
  • If your course is eligible for undergraduate funding (such as an integrated master's, or Master of Architecture/MArch) then you cannot apply for a postgraduate loan. Equally if it is combined with a doctoral degree, then you should apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan.
  • You also won't get a postgraduate loan if you are behind in payments for any previous loans to the Student Loans Company, or if you are currently in receipt of a loan for another course.

Course-based criteria

In addition to the above, your course must meet the following requirements:

  • It must be a full masters-level qualification of 180 credits, not a top-up master's. It can be a taught or research-based master's. This can include MSc, MA, MPhil, MRes, LLM, MLitt, MFA, MEd and MBA courses. Postgraduate certificates and diplomas are not eligible; this includes PGCEs.
  • It must be your first masters-level qualification. Postgraduate certificates or diplomas do not count as masters-level qualifications, so students who do not hold a qualification of a higher level than these will be eligible for a postgraduate loan. If you have a higher level of qualification, even if you didn't receive a postgraduate loan, or if the qualification was from outside of the UK, you will not be eligible.
  • It must be a stand-alone master's course i.e. not an integrated master's that is part of a longer undergraduate or doctoral course.
  • It must be provided by a university or college in the UK (including the Open University).
  • It can also include master's degrees studied by distance learning, so long as the student is resident in the UK (or in England, if they are an EU national). The exception to this is where a student is in the armed forces (or a dependent relative of someone in the armed forces) and is serving overseas.
  • Courses can be one to two years if studied full-time. Part-time courses must be no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time course, or a maximum of three years if no full-time equivalent course exists.

What about EU students?

EU (European Union) students are eligible for postgraduate loans in England if they have been resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for at least three years prior to starting their course, will study in England, and are living there on the first day of their course. Note that if you have been resident in any of these areas purely for the purposes of education, this time will not count towards being eligible.

Brexit is not set to have any immediate impact on funding, with England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all confirming that EU students starting a degree in 2018 (and even 2019) will be eligible.

If you’re from outside the EU, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for a postgraduate loan; exceptions to this include those who have the right to permanently reside in the UK (e.g. having refugee status).

Find out more or apply for a master's loan in England

Visit Student Finance England to find out more and apply for a master's loan in England.
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.