If you are a UK or EU national and plan to start a full-time, part-time or distance learning taught or research Masters course from September 2017 you may be able to apply for a government-backed loan of up to £10,280.

This loan is intended to increase the number of individuals completing postgraduate Masters qualifications, to help to upskill the workforce and meet the UK’s economic demands for highly skilled workers.

This film from Student Finance England provides an introduction to postgraduate loans:

Value

  • the postgraduate loan is worth up to £10,280.
  • the loan is not means-tested so doesn’t depend on personal or family income
  • it will be paid directly into a student’s UK bank account and will need to be repaid

Please note that the loan is a contribution towards the costs of study; it will not necessarily cover all tuition and living costs. It is up to you (as the student) how you use the loan (ie towards fees, maintenance or other costs).

Eligibility

You could be eligible if:

1) You are starting a Masters qualification in the 2017/18 academic year.

The loan is available in all subject areas, including MSc, MA, MPhil on entry, MRes on entry, LLM, MLitt, MFA, Med and MBA courses.

One and two year full-time courses are eligible. Part-time courses are also eligible; a one year full-time Masters course can be studied on a part-time basis over two years (50% average intensity, with no minimum intensity requirement in year one). Part time courses studied over three years are only eligible where there is no full time equivalent course available.

2) The loan will be available to UK Nationals (and individuals with settled status in the UK). You must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years before the beginning of the academic year. This must have most recently been in England.  

You will not normally be eligible if you are a UK national or have settled status in the UK, but live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

You may also be eligible if you are an EU National or if you have residency status of refugees, humanitarian protection, EEA or Swiss migrant worker, a family member of any of the previous categories, or a child of a Swiss national or child of a Turkish worker.

3) You are under 60 years of age on the first day of the first academic year of your particular course.

Please note:

You would not normally be eligible to receive the loan if you already hold a Master’s qualification (or equivalent qualification or higher level qualification), or if you are aged over 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

You would not normally be eligible to receive the loan if you are eligible for an NHS Bursary or have been awarded a Social Work Bursary.

The loan will also not be available to students who have outstanding student loan arrears or have previously been found ‘unfit’ for student support (eg because of attempted fraud).

The loan is not available for the following courses: PGCE, PGCert, PGDip, PhD (a different system of loans has been proposed by the government), or undergraduate degrees which include integrated Masters years.

Applying for the loan

You can apply for the loan through Student Finance England. If you have taken out a loan with Student Finance England before, you will use your existing account to apply.

Applications for 2017 entry are now open so please visit the government website for further information on the application process and eligibility criteria. The video below gives a quick overview of the application process:

How to receive your funding

You will need to have registered and collected your ID card in order to receive the funding from your postgraduate student loan. The University will only confirm your registration in order to release the funds once both of these steps have been completed.

This applies to both students on campus and also students studying by distance learning who will be required to follow the procedure to obtain an ID card remotely

How the loan is paid

The loan will be paid to you as the student in three instalments over an academic year, once the University has confirmed your attendance. The instalments will be evenly spaced across the course:

One year programmes: £10,000 paid in three instalments

Two year programmes: £5,000 paid in three instalments in your first year, £5,000 paid in three instalments in your second year.

Please remember: the loan is a contribution towards your fee and living costs; it will not necessarily cover the full costs. Students studying a two year full-time course on a part-time basis across four years will only receive loan payments during their first two years.

Repayment

You will only start making repayments on the loan once you are earning £21,000 a year or more. In the same way that undergraduate loan repayments work, the money is taken at source alongside your tax straight from your salary.

You will make repayments of 6% of any earnings that you make over £21,000. For example, if you have an income of £25,000, you are £4,000 over the £21,000 threshold. You will repay 6% of this £4,000 which equals £20 a month.

Any outstanding balance of the loan will be written off on the 30th anniversary of the date that the loan becomes due for repayment.

For students starting in the 2017/18 academic year, repayments of the Postgraduate loan will not start before 6 April 2019.

Please note that the Postgraduate loans are subject to a rate of interest (the rate of inflation plus 3%). This interest will start to accrue from the date that you receive your first instalment.

Repayment alongside undergraduate loans

Postgraduate loan repayments will be made at the same time as any undergraduate loan repayments that you owe.

The repayment rate for postgraduate loans is 6% of any earnings over £21,000. If you entered higher education from 2012 onwards, the repayment rate of your undergraduate loans will be 9% of any earnings above £21,000.

Using the example above, based on a salary of £25,000 a year you would repay a combined 15% of your salary above £21,000. This totals £50 a month (£20 Postgraduate loan repayment and £30 undergraduate loan repayment).

Other sources of funding

You can also search our postgraduate scholarships database

You can also find information on MoneySavingExpert