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Postgraduate Student Loans in England

If you're looking to study for a postgraduate degree in England, postgraduate funding is now available. Check out our complete guide to find out all you need to know:

How do I apply, and how much can I get?

How do I apply for a postgraduate loan?

You will need to make your application online through Student Finance England. You will only have to apply once, even if your course lasts longer than a year.

How much can I get?

While £10,280 is the upper limit on postgraduate loans, you can borrow as much or as little as you want up to the maximum amount.

If you are applying to study a course that lasts longer than a year, the amount of money that you can request for your first year is capped at £5,000. Therefore, if the amount you are requesting for your whole course is £5,000 or less, you can request the full amount in your first year. If you are applying for more than £5,000, you can only request up to £5,000 in your first year, with the rest paid in your second year.

Although MBA courses are eligible, the full cost of the programme will often be more than the £10,280 loan limit.

Please also note that the £10,280 limit applies to courses that begin on or after 1 August 2017 – students starting a course that begins before then will only be able to borrow up to £10,000.

How will I be paid?

The structure of postgraduate loan payments for different types of degree are as follows:

Number of years of study

Full-time or part-time

What is the maximum amount I can get per year?

How many instalments per year?

One

Full-time

£10,280

Three instalments, with 33% of your annual allowance in the first two, and 34% in the third.

Two

Full-time

£5,000 in your first year, with the rest paid in your second year.

Part-time

Four

Part-time

£2,570

Note that the definition of a part-time course is one where you are studying at 50% of the intensity of a student taking the course full-time. In other words, if a full-time student takes one year to complete the course, it would take a part-time student two years.

What are the 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, paying at a rate of 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 to be set a rate of RPI+3%. RPI stands for ‘Retail Prices Index’ and essentially refers to the rate of inflation in the UK 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 market cost of debt of an equivalent amount.

Repayments will not begin until April in the year after you complete your course. However, as repayments for the first set of postgraduate loans will not begin until 2019, students who complete a one-year Masters in 2016–17 will have one repayment-free year after graduation (although voluntary early repayments can be made).

As with undergraduate loans, all postgraduate student loan debt will be cancelled after 30 years. However, given the assumed earning potential of a Masters 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 academic year of your course.
  • 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 most recently been resident in England.

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

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, you cannot get a postgraduate loan.

Course-based criteria

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

  • 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 any qualifications of a higher level than these will still be eligible for a postgraduate loan.
  • It must be provided by a university or college in the UK (including the Open University).
  • It must have begun on or after 1 August 2016.
  • It must lead to a postgraduate Masters degree. Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas, as well as PGCEs, are not eligible.
  • It can be taught or research-based, with full-time (one or two academic years) and part-time (two to four years, where this is no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time course, or up to three years where no full-time equivalent exists) both acceptable options.
  • It must be a standalone Masters course i.e. not an integrated Masters that is part of a longer undergraduate course.

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. 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 2017 will be eligible.

If you’re from outside the EU, you will be ineligible for a postgraduate loan, unless you have the right to permanently reside in the UK (e.g. having refugee status).