If you are a UK or EU student undertaking your first master's degree, you may be eligible to apply for a loan from the UK government to contribute towards your course fees, your living costs, or both.
The scheme provides non means-tested loans to eligible students taking eligible taught and research master's degrees. The loan can be used as a contribution towards the costs of study including tuition fees and living costs. The total loan payment will be spread across all academic years of the course and will be paid directly to the student in three instalments each academic year. You can get up to:
- £11,222 if your course starts in academic year 2020–21
- £10,906, if your starts on or after 1 August 2019
- £10,609, if your course started between 1 August 2018 and 31 July 2019
The deadline to apply depends on when you start your course, see details on gov.uk. You can apply now.
Am I eligible?
You must be under the age of 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course (eg 1 September). Your course must lead to a taught or research-based postgraduate master's degree. This includes:
- Law Conversion LLM
- MA (Master of Arts)
- MBA (Master of Business Administration)
- MEd (Master of Education)
- MPhil (Master of Philosophy) on entry
- MRes (Master of Research) on entry
- MSc (Master of Science)
The course can be:
- full-time, lasting 1 or 2 academic years
- part-time, lasting 2 to 4 academic years, depending on the length of the equivalent full-time course
- part-time, up to 3 years, if the course is offered as a part-time programme only
- You can also apply if you're studying by distance learning.
To apply for a postgraduate loan you must:
- be a UK or EU national or have 'settled status' in the UK
- normally live in England
- have been living in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for 3 years prior to starting your course.
EU nationals who have been living in the EEA or Switzerland for at least 3 years before the start of the course, may also be eligible to apply for a postgraduate loan.
You may also be eligible, if you're the child of a Swiss national or Turkish worker; a refugee or relative of one; an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or relative of one; under humanitarian protection or a relative of someone who has been granted it; 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half your life.
Who is not eligible?
You will not be eligible to apply for a loan if:
- your postgraduate course does not result in a masters qualification, such as a postgraduate diploma or postgraduate certificate
- you are studying an integrated masters course that is currently funded by the undergraduate support system
- you are eligible to apply for a healthcare bursary or are in receipt of a social work bursary from the National Health Service, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), or the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
- you already hold a masters qualification or an equivalent, or higher level qualification
- if you have received a postgraduate loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or other serious personal reasons.
What about part-time study?
If you’re studying part-time, your course can last for up to four years. You should check with your university that you can get a postgraduate loan for your course. If you are eligible, all loan payments will be made to you over your first two years of study.
For more information about who can apply for a postgraduate loan visit The Student Room.
Considering PhD study?
There is a separate loan scheme for students starting a postgraduate Doctoral course on or after 1 August 2018 study.
How to apply
You can apply for a postgraduate loan via gov.uk.
You should apply as early as possible to make sure your loan is ready for the start of your course.
Before you start your application you should have the following to hand:
- valid UK passport details (if you have one)
- preferred university and course details.
You’ll also need your UK bank account details and UK National Insurance number if you have them, but you can provide these later if you need to.
Once you start your application you can save it at any time and go back to it later.
Online application advice: Research course titles
As part of the online application process on the Student Finance England (SfE) website, you will need to enter the postgraduate research course title that you are applying for.
Alternative course titles for each university postgraduate research course have been created on the SfE database. This means you will need to find the SfE alternative title for your research course and enter it when you are applying for your postgraduate loan online.
Go to the SfE course titles tab to find your course title. If you can't find your course title, contact our enrolment team who will be able to help: 01273 644777.
The postgraduate loans scheme will be managed by the Student Loans Company, who will administer payment of the loan and collect repayments from your salary.
Interest will be charged at Retail Price Index (RPI) + 3%, from the day your first loan payment is made until your loan is paid in full.
You have to repay any loan you borrow, but not until you’ve finished or left your course and your income is over £21,000 a year.
Repayments will be based on your income, not what you borrow.
- If you're studying a full-time course, you'll start repaying the postgraduate loan the April after you finish or leave your course
- If you're studying a part-time course, you'll start repaying the postgraduate loan the April after the second year of your course, even if your course is longer than 2 years.
Repayments will only be taken if you are earning over £21,000 a year.
You'll repay 6% of what you earn over the £21,000 threshold.
If you've had an undergraduate loan from Student Finance England, you'll repay both loans at the same time.
For example, if you’re paid monthly and earn £2,500 before tax you’ll repay 6% of the difference between what you earn and the threshold (£1,750):
£2,500 - £1,750 = £750
6% of £750 = £45
So in this example your postgraduate loan repayment would be £45 that month.
If you’ve had any other loans from the Student Loans Company for your undergraduate course, you’ll also have to repay these loans.
More information is available on the Student Finance England’s guide to repaying your postgraduate loan.