Postgraduate Student Loans in Scotland

If you live in Scotland and are looking to study beyond undergraduate level, read on for the complete guide to the country's postgraduate loans.

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How do I apply How much can I get in 2018 • How is my loan receivedWhat 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 postgraduate loan?

Apply online to SAAS, the Student Awards Agency Scotland, anytime from 1st April until the closing date of 31st March. In Scotland there are two types of postgraduate loan: one covering tuition fees, and – for full-time students only – one for living costs. You must apply for a tuition fee loan for each year of your course; you need only apply once for the living costs loan. Apply as soon as possible in order to receive the funding in time.

How much can I get as postgraduate funding in 2018?

Students in Scotland will be entitled to a maximum postgraduate loan of £10,000, formed of two parts:

  • Tuition fees support of up to £5,500. If your fees are lower than this, your university will receive the appropriate amount. If your fees are above £5,500, you will need to make up the difference yourself.

  • If you are a full-time student, living costs support of up to £4,500. You can borrow less than £4,500 if you feel you don’t need the full amount. Students on part-time courses are not eligible for the living costs loan, neither are students from the EU.

If your tuition fees cost more than £5,500, you could in theory use some of your living costs loan to make up the difference. This money is yours to use as you see fit. However as it is a living costs loan, it’s important to make sure that you always have enough money to live on. Note also, you might not receive the living costs loan by the dates on which your tuition fees are due to be paid.

Tuition fees vary considerably, please refer to our Reddin Survey of Tuition Fees as a guide.

Postgraduate loans in Scotland are non-means-tested, meaning that you will be able to apply for the full amount, regardless of your financial background.

How is my postgraduate loan received? 

If your course lasts longer than one year, the loan you receive will be paid pro-rata, the amount received will be split according to the number of years of study. Tuition fees are paid directly to the university; living costs are paid to you.

Number of years of study

Full-time or part-time

What is the maximum amount I can get per year?



£10,000 (£5,500 fees plus £4,500 living costs)



£5,000 (£2,750 fees plus £2,250 living costs)


£2,750 fees



£1,883 fees



£1,375 fees

What are the loan repayments like?

Repayments for Scottish postgraduate loans follow the same system as undergraduate loans. If you already have a Scottish undergraduate loan, the two debts will be combined and paid off via one payment each month.

The amount you need to pay back each month is determined by your income. You will repay 9% of all income over £18,330, which is set to rise to £25,000 by April 2021. Interest is charged on the loan in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI); since December 2017 it has been 1.5% but this may change.

You will make your first repayment in the April after you graduate from your course, and you will still need to repay any borrowed money even if you choose not to complete a course. Note, if you withdraw from your course in the first four months you'll have to pay the tuition fees yourself.

Calton Hill , Edinburgh , Scotland


Personal criteria

To be eligible for a postgraduate loan in Scotland, the general requirement is that you must:

  • Be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course. If you then change course and are over 60, you will be no longer be eligible for the loan.
  • Be a UK national or have 'settled status' (i.e. no restriction on how long you can stay).
  • Have lived in the UK for three years and be ordinarily resident in Scotland at the beginning of your course.

If you’re from England, Northern Ireland or Wales and have been living in Scotland in order to study an undergraduate degree, this does not count as being 'ordinarily resident'. Equally if you are from Scotland and studied elsewhere in the UK for an undergraduate degree, you are still considered to be 'ordinarily resident' in Scotland.

If you then remain where you studied your degree to live and work, this may change where you are considered to be 'resident'. If you’re unsure about your residency status, you should contact your chosen university or SAAS.

Funding criteria

  • You can still apply for funding from other sources such as charitable trusts, or for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). If you are eligible for DSA and wish to take out a postgraduate tuition fee loan, you should apply for the loan before submitting your application for DSA.
  • If you receive tuition fee support from the Scottish Funding Council on a full-time course, you may still be eligible for a living cost loan.
  • If you are studying a postgraduate course in social work, you should seek funding from the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).
  • If your course is eligible for undergraduate funding (this includes a number of postgraduate teaching courses), then you cannot apply for a postgraduate loan.
  • If you previously completed postgraduate study – up to PhD level – with the support of 'public funding' such as a previous UK postgraduate loan or EU funds, then you cannot receive a postgraduate loan for your tuition fees. However, if you are on a full-time course you may be still be eligible for a living costs loan.
  • If during your postgraduate study you had to change course or repeat a year, Scotland has a 'plus one' rule for loans. This means you should be able to re-apply for continued funding, if the course is at the same level and the 'plus one' funding was not used previously for undergraduate study.

Course-based criteria

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

  • In Scotland, students of courses including postgraduate diploma and full master's degrees can apply for a postgraduate loan, provided the course is rated higher than Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF) level 11.
  • The course can be either a taught or research course (with this latter change announced in February 2019). If you are unsure whether your course qualifies you should check with your chosen university or SAAS.
  • It can be a full- or part-time course. Postgraduate diplomas can be no longer than one year full-time, and master's courses no longer than two years full-time. Part-time courses should take no longer than twice the duration of the equivalent full-time course; if there is no full-time equivalent, please contact SAAS for guidance.
  • Finally – and importantly – it must be a course provided by a Scottish university or higher education institution. If a course is unavailable in Scotland, a programme at another UK university may be eligible so long as it is full-time. This includes courses provided by distance learning. 

What about EU students?

EU (European Union) students are eligible for postgraduate loans in Scotland if they have been resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for at least three years prior to starting their course, will study in Scotland, and are living there on the first day of their course. However, EU students will only be able to apply for the tuition-fee loan, for an amount up to £5,500. The other funding criteria above also apply.

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 unless you have the right to permanently reside in the UK (e.g. having refugee status). There are also some exceptions for EEA migrant workers, Swiss or Turkish applicants.

Find out more or apply for a postgraduate funding in Scotland

Visit the Student Awards Agency Scotland to find out more or apply for postgraduate funding in Scotland.
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.