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 by Kevin McMullan
, posted on 9 Aug '17

Postgraduate Loans in 2017 (and Beyond!) - Updates and Tips from Student Finance England

UK Masters loans have now been available in England for over a year. Better yet, other parts of the UK have all introduced their own postgraduate support for students in 2017.

We thought now was a good time to ask how the new funding was going. Kevin McMullan is a representative of Student Finance England (the official agency responsible for delivering the loans). In this post he looks back on the first year of postgraduate student funding – and ahead to the future!

Postgraduate loans – a bit of background

In 2016, the UK Government introduced – for the first time ever – access to statutory student finance for postgraduate loans. One of the aims of the policy was to enable more students to study at Masters Level, and to ensure that access to finance was not a barrier to study for potential postgraduates, like you.

Initial estimates predicted that upwards of 60,000 students would take advantage of this new loan, and access it to help towards course related costs.

In fact, there are nearly 110,000 students – approaching double what was indicated – applying for the loan.

What’s more, the majority of these applicants have been found to be eligible and approved for support.

Reflecting on the first year

We’re pleased that these figures demonstrate that the introduction of the loan is serving its purpose, and making Master’s level study more accessible than ever before.

Applications have been spread across a number of subject areas. Law, Education and Psychology have proven especially popular, but support is available for all subjects.

We’re also pleased to see that applications have been submitted from across the whole of the UK and that interest from eligible EU students is also strong (access to the loans is guaranteed for EU students starting a Masters this year and next).

Looking ahead – postgraduate loan applications in 2017 and 2018

We at Student Finance England (SFE) have recently opened the application window for new 2017 entrants.

As we continue to make sure that the application is as easy as possible, what improvements have been made, ands what can new students expect should they want to apply for a Masters course in 2017?

What's changed?

Postgraduate loan applications are udnerway for 2017 and an additional 44,000 new students have registered an application for a course starting in the coming academic year.

The maximum loan has been increased to £10,280, with payments now spread evenly across the full duration of the course.

The online PG application is intuitive, and will ask you the relevant questions as you proceed, so you won’t need to worry too much about payment structure.

All we need to know from you is how much you want to borrow, and which course you intend studying.

Our tips and advice to you

So, what can you do to make sure your application goes as smoothly as possible? Here are some tips from us at Student Finance England:

1) Send information if we request it

During the first year of the postgraduate loans, the main reason we needed additional evidence from students was to prove normal residence in England.

In 2016, England was the only part of the UK to offer centralised, statutory government funding for Master’s courses (administerd by us at SFE).

Since then, administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have introduced their own funding arrangements.

So, if you are normally resident in any of those places, you should consult information on their loans, or contact Student Finance Wales (SFW), Student Finance Northern Ireland (SFNI) or Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

2) Follow advice from your university

We recognise and understand that your university is a known, trusted source of information and guidance.

SFE have worked closely with universities since the start of the postgraduate loan scheme to ensure that they have up to date resources for students.

We would therefore advise that you continue to take advice, as required, from university staff throughout your period of study. They will be able to give guidance should any of your circumstances change either prior to, or during, your course.

In particular, make sure that you know who to contact to discuss any potential changes to your study plan.

3) Check repayments and other important loan information

Remember that repayment of postgraduate loans is slightly different to the terms for undergraduate loans. Only 6% of any income over £21,000 is deducted from salary (rather than the 9% for undergraduate study).

For more information on how postgraduate loans work, see resources like those here at FindAMasters.com. SFE also host regular forums, online QS and surgeries. These are advertised on our Facebook and Twitter platforms, so keep checking back for updates.

4) Understand the terms and conditions for your loan

The money that you borrow for your Masters loan comes from the public purse. SFE have a duty to ensure that you get the right amount a timely manner, and that we recover the repayments owed at the end of your study.

In particular, we are not allowed to transfer funds to anyone who has not signed their Online Declaration.

This confirms your understanding of the terms and conditions for your loan – and commits you to follow them. You can find the full terms and conditions online. But do remember to download, print off and return your Online Declaration. Upon completion, your online status should read “Approved”. If the status reads “Approved – Awaiting Signature” then there is still some work for you to do!

5) If all else fails, get in touch!

If you cannot find the information that you need, then you can give us a call on 0300 100 0607. Our specially trained postgraduate advisers will be happy to answer any queries and guide you through your application.

Best of luck with your studies!

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