Postgraduate loans offer up to £10,280 for English-resident students to study a UK Masters degree. Better yet, their value is increasing to £10,609 for courses in 2018-19.
This page explains how the key details of the UK postgraduate system work. We've also put together the most extensive FAQ possible, with answers to common student questions about this postgraduate student funding.
The following table provides a simple summary of the UK's postgraduate loan system:
|Overview:||Student loans for full-time, part-time and distance learning Masters degrees in all subjects (taught or research).|
|Value:||Up to £10,280 (rising to £10,609 for 2018-19).|
|Eligibility:||UK, EEA and Swiss nationals resident in England. EU nationals resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.|
|Location:||Any UK university.|
|Repayment:||6% of annual income over £21,000. Interest at RPI+3%.|
|Application:||Now open, online or by post.|
Got a more detailed question? Keep reading for our comprehensive postgraduate loan FAQs.
Postgraduate loans are:
The government is offering loans as ‘a contribution to the cost of an eligible postgraduate Masters qualification’. You can use a loan for tuition fees, living costs and other study expenses as you see fit.
In practice, the maximum loan amount should be sufficient to cover tuition fees for most eligible taught Masters programmes. However, it will not necessarily cover all of your accommodation and living costs.
Some Masters courses may also cost more than £10,280. This is particularly likely for MBA programmes.
No, £10,280 is simply the maximum amount you can borrow (£10,000 for courses beginning in 2016-7). If you wish to borrow a smaller amount to cover fees (or living costs) you will be able to do so.
There is no minimum loan amount.
Yes. You can change the amount of your postgraduate loan at any point up to nine months from the first day of your final academic year. For most courses the first day of the academic year will be 1st September.
You will need to complete and send a loan request form in order to change your loan. You can't do this online.
No. The postgraduate Masters loans are not means-tested. You can apply regardless of your existing income or savings.
No. The loans have a maximum value of £10,280, offered as a contribution to your tuition and living costs. There are no separate postgraduate maintenance loans.
For English-resident students, payments (and applications) are managed by Student Finance England.
No. Eligibility isn't affected by your based on your personal credit rating or credit history.
The only exception concerns arrears to the Student Loans Company. This may apply if you have missed payments or travelled outside the country without informing the SLC. If so, you should contact them and discuss your account.
Potentially, yes. Unlike undergraduate loans, postgraduate loans are paid directly to students. This means they function like income (and you can spend them on anything you like).
Receiving benefits will not make you ineligible for a loan, but your loan may have an impact on the welfare support you receive.
In some cases, yes. Receiving other postgraduate funding or finance from your university or a third party (such as a charity) won't normally affect your eligibility.
However, if other public funding is available for the whole of your course, you may not be able to apply for a postgraduate loan. This is one of the reasons why integrated and undergraduate Masters are not eligible.
Note that this information only concerns your eligibility for a postgraduate Masters loan. It is possible (though unlikely) that taking out a loan may affect your eligibility for other grants or finance.
You can read more information about specific funding options below.
Yes. Your entitlement to Disabled Students’ Allowance is distinct from any other financial support you receive.
Possibly not. Some NHS bursaries - for subjects such as nursing and midwifery - supersede postgraduate loans. Check with your provider for more information.
Yes. The new system is designed to be an affordable option for graduates who want to continue on to further study. Repayments will occur concurrently with your undergraduate loan and won’t be due until you are earning enough to afford them.
In most cases, no. You may be able to increase your loan amount, but would not be able to borrow more than the maximum of £10,280. Your course will also need to last less than two years full-time or four-years part time.
Exceptions may be made if you can demonstrate compelling personal reasons. Decisions will be made by Student Loan Company assessors on a case-by-case basis.
Yes. You can maintain your loan when transferring Masters provided both courses are eligible and you are not repeating the same component of a course. It will not normally be possible to exit one course and apply for a fresh loan to complete another.
To be eligible for a UK postgraduate loan you:
You must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your Masters.
This will normally be:
|Course starts between||First day of academic year|
|1st August - 31st December||1st September|
|1st January - 31st March||1st January|
|1st April - 30th June||1st April|
|1st July - 31st July||1st July|
Unfortunately not. The new loans aim to broaden access to postgraduate education for new students.
However, possession of a Masters degree will not prevent you from receiving a separate PhD loan in 2018.
Yes. You can apply for a postgraduate loan if you have already begun a Masters and 'dropped out'.
However, other eligiblity criteria will still apply: you must not be currently studying a Masters that began before 1st August 2016, you must not hold a Masters degree (or higher qualification), and you must not have previously received any postgraduate loan payments.
The restriction on applying for a loan with existing postgraduate qualifications only applies to full Masters degrees.
You should still be able to apply for a loan to study a new Masters if you already hold a postgraduate qualification below Masters level - such as a postgraduate certificate or diploma. Remember though, you won't be able to receive a loan to study one of these courses.
Note that your course must be a new full Masters. You cannot receive a loan to 'progress' an existing PGCert or PGDip to Masters (see below).
No. You can't receive a loan for part of a Masters degree, only for a full course. You can still apply for a loan to study a new Masters after completing a PGCert or PGDip, but this will need to be a full degree.
The same restriction applies to PhD holders as to those with existing Masters degrees. You will not be able to apply for a Masters loan if you already hold a qualification at Masters level or above.
Unfortunately not. In order to apply for a loan your course will need to have begun after 1st August 2016 (the date at which the loans were introduced).
No. You won't be able to increase your loan from £10,000 to £10,280. The new amount will only apply to new applicants, beginning a new Masters from 1st August 2017.
The new Masters loans won't replace the existing Professional and Career Development Loans system. These are available for a wide variety of postgraduate courses, including PGCert and PGDip qualifications, as well as Masters degrees. What's more, you don't have to be resident in England to apply. Find out more with our guide.
These postgraduate loans are intended for English students. However, eligibility is based on English-residency, not English-nationality. If you are Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, but normally live in England, you will be able to receive a loan.
In order to be eligible you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years on the first day of the academic year in which your course begins. In addition, you must have most recently been resident in England.
Yes. You can read about postgraduate loans in other parts of the UK below.
Yes. Postgraduate loans are available to citizens of the UK and Islands, subject to normal residency criteria.
You will need to have been resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for at least three years prior to the beginning of your course. Periods of residency that are purely for the purpose of education will not count towards this three year requirement.
Note that EU students will normally only be able to receive loans to study a Masters at a university in England. This includes on-campus and distance learning options.
Exceptions may apply if you have been ordinarily resident in England for three years prior to the beginning of your course. If so, you will count as an English-domiciled student and can take out a loan to study anywhere in the UK.
Yes. Citizens of non-EU EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland may be eligible. You (or a relative) must be working in the UK, have worked in the UK, or have sought work in the UK. In addition, you must be ordinarily resident in England at the start of your course (in the same way as a UK student).
Not immediately. EU students will be eligible for student loans until the UK leaves the EU. This is not expected to take place until 2019 at the earliest (and is likely to take longer).
In the meantime, the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have confirmed that postgraduate loans will still be available for students beginning a Masters in the 2017-18 or or 2018-19 academic years.
Under normal circumstances, Masters loans will not be available to international students in the UK. In order to be eligible you will need to be a UK national or EU citizen, as above.
Exceptions may apply if you have the right to reside permanently in the UK. This could be the result of refugee status or other humanitarian protection. Family members of EU citizens may also be eligible for loans.
Your university's international office may be able to provide help if you are unsure what conditions apply in your case.
Can't get a loan as an international student? Other funding may be available. Our guide covers some of the best sources of international Masters funding in the UK for 2017.
The postgraduate loans introduced in 2016 are only for English students. To be eligible as a UK student you must be ordinarily resident in the UK for three years before you begin your Masters. In addition, you must be most recently resident in England.
EU students must have been ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years prior to their course. EEA and Swiss students must be resident in England and have been living in the UK for three years.
Students who have studied (or are studying) in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will be eligible for a Masters loan, provided they are normally resident in England.
Time spent studying elsewhere will be regarded as a temporary absence and will not affect your English-domiciled status.
Residence in England that is purely for purposes of study will not qualify you as ordinarily resident.
Note that other parts of the UK are working on their own postgraduate loans.
You may be eligible for a loan in England if you can prove that you are already living there normally. This means that you haven't remained in the country purely to access a loan. The Student Loans Company's assessors will judge this on a case-by-case basis.
Probably not. Your address history would show that you have moved to England very recently, which would appear suspicious. You would need to convince assessors that you had moved to England for another reason and hadn't originally intended to study. This is unlikely to be convincing.
We do not recommend that students relocate purely for the purposes of loan eligibility.
The application process for the loans will ask you for three years of address history.
This will be used to determine your ordinary place of residence. In most cases this will be a simple process, but the Student Loans Company's assessors will review your evidence if necessary.
If any periods of residence outside England are temporary, you will be able to prove this (see below).
No. Your parents' address will not count as proof of residency unless it is also your own ordinary residence.
Temporary absences or changes of address will not make you ineligible for a loan. However, you will need to demonstrate that they are temporary.
Examples of temporary absences could include:
EU students will need to have been normally resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years.
You do not need to have been most recently resident in England. But, if England is your normal place of residence, you may be assessed as an English-domiciled student. If so, you will be able to study anywhere in the UK (EU students are normally restricted to studying in England).
You can read all about applying for a postgraduate in our guide. This includes a summary of the key details and a step by step guide to the application process and a set of helpful FAQs.
To be eligible for a postgraduate loan, your course must:
The following table summarises the information in this FAQ, offering a quick 'at a glance' look at course eligibility for postgraduate loans.
|UK Masters loans - course eligibility|
|MA||Master of Arts||Yes|
|MSc||Master of Science||Yes|
|MBA||Master of Business Administration||Yes|
|MEd||Master of Education||Yes|
|MFA||Master of Fine Arts||Yes|
|MLitt||Master of Letters||Yes|
|MMus||Master of Music||Yes|
|MPhil||Master of Philosophy||Yes|
|MRes||Master of Research||Yes|
|MSc (Eng)||Master of Science in Engineering||Yes|
|LLM||Master of Law||Yes|
|MArch||Master of Architecture||If PT|
|GDL||Graduate Diploma in Law||No|
|LPC||Legal Practice Course||No|
|MEng||Master of Engineering||No|
|PGCE||Postgraduate Certificate in Education||No|
|PhD||Doctor of Philosophy||No|
You can read more about eligibility conditions for specific degree types below:
Yes. MBA (Master of Business Administration) degrees are eligible for postgraduate loans. However, the full cost of an MBA programme will often be greater than the maximum you can borrow.
Yes. MRes (Master of Research) degrees are eligible for postgraduate loans regardless of whether a university defines them as taught or research qualifications.
Yes. The MPhil (Master of Philosophy) is regarded as a Masters-level research degree, at level 7 of the UK's Qualification Framework. This means that MPhil degrees are eligible for loans.
Note that this only applies to 'standalone' MPhils. If you are registering as an MPhil student with the intention of upgrading to a PhD, you will not be able to receive a Masters loan. You will be able to receive a PhD loan instead. These will be available in 2018.
No. Postgraduate loans are only available for full Masters degree programmes. These courses are usually worth 180 credits and include a dissertation or equivalent individual project. Loans will not be available for shorter postgraduate courses such as Postgraduate Certificates or Postgraduate Diplomas.
No. Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) courses and other initial teacher training (ITT) qualifications are covered by other funding from the Department for Education.
Note that you can receive a loan to study a postgraduate Master of Education (MED) degree.
Possibly. Postgraduate loans are not available for courses below Masters level. This includes shorter diplomas and certificates such as the LPC (Legal Practice Course). However, many LLM (Master of Laws) programmes include an LPC qualification. In such cases you can take out a loan for an LLM and receive the LPC as part of it.
No. The GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) is a Postgraduate Diploma, not a full Masters degree and is not eligible for a Masters loan.
No. These are defined as undergraduate, rather than postgraduate courses. As a result, they will not be eligible for postgraduate loans.
However, you can usually receive an undergraduate student loan to complete a four year Masters programme.
Not for full-time courses. The MArch (Master of Architecture) is normally an an integrated Masters course. These are already supported by undergraduate finance (see above). However, part-time MArch courses may be eligible.
No. You can study any academic, professional or vocational subject, provided it awards a full postgraduate Masters degree.
No. You can only receive a loan to study a standalone Masters degree. The new doctoral loans will be available for separate PhD programmes that also award Masters degrees. However, you will not be able to take out multiple student loans for the same programme.
PhD loans have now been confirmed for UK students. They won't be introduced until the 2018-19 academic year, but that leaves plenty of time to complete your Masters degree. You can read more about eligibility criteria, repayments and other details here.
Yes. You can receive a loan to study a part-time Masters for up to four years. However, you must progress at 50% of the intensity of an equivalent full-time student.
Put simply, this means that you need to progress through your course at at least half the 'speed' of someone studying it full time. Or, to put it the other way around, your degree must take no more than twice as long to complete part-time as it would full-time.
In practice, this means that:
The vast majority of part-time Masters programmes will already be organised in a way that meets these requirements.
Note that your course doesn't need to be evenly split across each year of study.
Yes, but your loan will be spaced out across your programme. The system for this will depend on when your Masters (and postgraduate loan payments) begin:
These annual amounts will be paid in three instalments across each academic year of your course.
Yes. Two-year Masters courses will be eligible for loans. This is the case regardless of whether they are classed as taught or research programmes.
Note that the total amount you can borrow is still set at £10,280 (£10,000 for courses beginning in 2016).
Postgraduate loan payments are:
Your postgraduate loan will be paid in instalments. The number of instalments you receive (and their value) will depend on the total amount of postgraduate loan you request and the length of your course.
First, your loan will be divided by the length of your Masters, to give the annual amount for each year of your course. That amount will then be subdivided into three individual payments, as follows:
The following table shows how this works:
|Course length||1 year||2 years||3 years||4 years|
The figures in this table are based on the maximum loan amount of £10,280. Some have been rounded for clarity.
You should receive your first postgraduate loan instalment once your university confirms that you have registered and begun your course.
It can sometimes take a few days for this to be processed, so make sure you budget carefully.
Individual postgraduate loan payments will be spread evenly across each academic year of your course:
Payments will be made directly into your bank account. You will then be responsible for using the money to meet tuition fees and other expenses as you see fit.
If you do not currently have a UK bank account you will need to open one in order to receive postgraduate payments. This applies to all students, including those from outside the UK. You can apply for a loan without having a UK bank account, but you will need to open one subsequently.
See our guide to opening a UK bank account for more information.
Payments will be subject to confirmation of attendance provided by your institution. They will cease if you exit your programme early or transfer to an ineligible course.
If you exit your programme early you will still be liable for your loan and must repay any amount you have borrowed, as normal.
You should notify Student Finance England immediately if you think your postgraduate loan has been overpaid. This could happen if you receive the incorrect loan amount, or if you exit your course without cancelling future loan payments.
Be aware that overpayments may need to be repaid directly, rather than through the normal income-contingent system.
You can use a postgraduate loan to study:
Students who are ordinarily resident in England can receive a loan to study at any UK university. Other non-UK EU, EEA and Swiss students can study at universities in England, provided they have been ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
Other parts of the UK offer their own postgraduate loans.
In addition, other forms of funding and financial support are already available to study a Masters at one of the many excellent universities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Distance learning programmes can be awarded by any UK university, but you must begin them as an English resident. This means you must be resident in England on the first day of your course.
In order for your degree to be eligible for a postgraduate loan, it must be delivered and awarded by a UK university.
You can still receive a loan to study a Masters that includes an overseas placement or exchange, provided this does not account for more than 50% of your course.
Postgraduate loan repayments are:
Repayments for Masters loans will be due from April in the year after you complete your course. The earliest you can begin repaying a postgraduate loan is April 2019.
If you are employed, the repayment for your postgraduate loan will be taken automatically from your salary. If you also have an undergraduate loan, both repayments will be taken at the same time.
You will still repay your loan if you are self-employed. Instead of being automatically deducted from your salary, repayments will be calculated when you complete your annual self-assessment tax return.
Your student loan debt will eventually be cancelled after 30 years.
The current interest rate for postgraduate loans is 6.1%. This is based on the current Retail Price Index (RPI) of 1.6%, plus 3%.
The interest rate for postgraduate loans changes each September, based on updated RPI figures.
RPI stands for ‘Retail Prices Index.’ It is an annual percentage measure of inflation, based on the price of goods and services in the UK.
Interest will begin accruing on your loan as soon as the first payment is made to you by the Student Loans Company.
No. The interest rate for your postgraduate loan will be the same regardless of how much you earn.
No. The UK Government is raising the repayment threshold for undergraduate student loans from £21,000 to £25,000. Unfortunately, this won't apply to postgraduate loans.
The proposed repayment and interest terms will be fixed for a minimum period of five years. Repayment thresholds and interest rates should stay the same until 2021.
Note that actual interest rates can still change each year with RPI (see above).
You can apply for a postgraduate loan:
Now! Applications for 2017 postgraduate loans opened on 12th June.
You can apply now using the online service provided by Student Finance England.
Yes. You must apply for your postgraduate loan within nine months of the first day of your final academic year. The same deadline applies if you wish to change your loan amount.
The deadline for your postgraduate loan application will normally be as follows:
|1st August to 31st December||Nine months from 1st September|
|1st January to 31st March||Nine months from 1st January|
|1st April to 30th June||Nine months from 1st April|
|1st July to 31st July||Nine months from 1st July|
Yes. Postgraduate loan applications are still open for two year Masters degrees that started in 2016. This means you can apply now if you began your Masters last year and wish to take out a loan for the final year of your degree.
Our guide explains how the system works, with a full walkthrough for UK and EU students. It also provides information on applying for other UK postgraduate loans, along with a helpful list of FAQs.
Here's a quick comparison of Masters loans across the UK:
|Level||Full Masters||Up to Masters||Full Masters||Up to Masters|
|Courses||Taught & Research||Taught & Research||Taught & Research||Taught|
|Length||Up to 4 years||Up to 3 years||Up to 4 years||Up to 4 years|
|*The maximum value of English postgraduate loans will rise to £10,609 in 2018-19.|
|**Wales will increase the value of its postgraduate loans to £13,000 for 2018-19.|
|***Scotland offers two separate postgraduate loans for tuition fees and living costs. Their eligibility criteria differ slightly.|
The EU's Erasmus+ programme makes loans of up to €18,000 available for students completing a Masters abroad in a participating country. These loans are offered by private banks and guaranteed by the European Investment Fund.
In 2016 they became available to UK students studying abroad and to students of other European countries studying abroad in the UK. You can find out more in our guide to Erasmus Masters degree loans.
The loans discussed on this page are for postgraduate courses at Masters-level (this is FindAMasters, after all!). However, PhD loans are also being introduced in England from 2018. Other parts of the UK are also considering proposals for doctoral loans. You can stay up to date by following our blog over at FindAPhD.
The maximum value of the postgraduate loan will increase to £10,609 for students starting a Masters in 2018-19. This rise won't apply to anyone who already has a Masters loan, or began a course in 2017-18 or earlier.
As above, England will also introduce separate loans for doctoral students starting in 2018-19. You can read more about these PhD loans at FindAPhD.com.
Finally, EU students can rest assured that Brexit won't affect their access to postgraduate loans for courses beginning in 2018-19. This has been confirmed across the UK.
Our newsletter will provide the latest Masters funding information, direct to your inbox.
Last updated - 08/12/2017