• Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Edinburgh Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Southampton Featured Masters Courses
  • University of Edinburgh Featured Masters Courses
  • Anglia Ruskin University Featured Masters Courses
  • Swansea University Featured Masters Courses
  • Goldsmiths, University of London Featured Masters Courses
  • Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine Featured Masters Courses
University of Manchester Featured Masters Courses
FindA University Ltd Featured Masters Courses
Cass Business School Featured Masters Courses
Queen’s University Belfast Featured Masters Courses
University of Cambridge Featured Masters Courses
Application process for postgraduate loans

UK Postgraduate Loans - Complete 2017 Application Guides

Students across the UK can apply for a postgraduate loan to study in 2017. Applications are now open for English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish students.

EU (and some international) students can also access this loans to study a Masters-level course in the UK.

This updated guide explains the application process for each individual UK postgraduate loan system, with walkthroughs for using the different online services (and advice on postal applications). We've also included a quick FAQ, covering some common questions and offering additional advice.

For more general information on UK postgraduate loans (and the differences between systems in different countries) see our Masters loans guides and comparisons.

Before you apply

Applying for a postgraduate loan is actually quite simple. They aren't based on your financial circumstances and most of the information you'll need to provide relates to your residency, or the course you wish to study.

There are a few things to do before you begin though:

1. Find a Masters!

Before you can apply for a loan for a Masters course, you'll need a Masters course to apply for a loan for.

The application services will ask for details of your intended degree and university. This will be checked against a database of eligible courses.

Note that you don't have to have applied for a Masters before you apply for a loan (but you will need to be registered on one before you receive any payments). You can also change your mind about your degree or university later.

So, the first thing to do is to find your ideal Masters course. And it just so happens you're already in the best place to start looking.

Ready to find your Masters?

Ready to apply for a loan, but not sure of the exact course you want to study? Our database lets you search and compare thousands of eligible Masters programmes. Why not take a look?

2. Work out which postgraduate loan you should apply for

There are four different postgraduate loan schemes in the UK, with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all offering their own systems.

It's important that you apply for the right one!

UK students

In most cases you should apply for a postgraduate loan from the country in which you are ordinarily resident. This is the country you normally live in when you aren't studying. For students continuing straight from undergraduate to postgraduate study it will be the country you lived in before you went to university.

Note that the country you apply for a loan from won't necessarily be the one in which you will study your Masters. Loans for UK students are 'portable'. This means you can normally study at a university anywhere in the UK with a loan from your 'home country'.

Changes to your ordinary residence

It's possible that your residency status may change between your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. This can happen if you go to university in a different part of the UK and live and work there after graduating.

EU students

EU students can apply for a postgraduate loan in any part of the UK, but must live and study in the country they receive a loan from. Exceptions apply if you are already living in the UK (not purely for the purposes of study). If so, you can apply for a loan on similar terms to UK students.

Brexit and postgraduate loans

EU students can still apply for a postgraduate loan to begin a course in 2017-18. Fee and funding guarantees are in place across the UK.

So, which postgraduate loan is right for me?

There are two main factors involved in determining which postgraduate loan you can apply for: where you are ordinarily resident and where you want to study.

It can be simplest to compare these using a grid, like this:


Choosing the Right UK Postgraduate Loan
Studying in England Studying in Scotland Studying in Wales Studying in N. Ireland
Resident in England English loan English loan English loan English loan
Resident in Scotland Scottish loan* Scottish loan Scottish loan* Scottish loan*
Resident in Wales Welsh loan Welsh loan Welsh loan Welsh loan
Resident in N. Ireland N. Irish loan N. Irish loan N. Irish loan N. Irish loan
Resident outside UK** English loan Scottish loan Welsh loan N. Irish loan

*Scottish postgraduate loans may only be available for study in other parts of the UK when an equivalent postgraduate course is not offered by a Scottish university.

**EU, EEA & Swiss students may be eligible for UK postgraduate loans without being UK residents, provided they are ordinarily resident in the EU, UK or Switzerland (and live in the relevant UK country on the first day of their course).


What if I'm still not sure which loan to apply for?

If in doubt, contact the student finance body you are considering applying to and check your eligibility. The four UK student finance bodies are:

3. Decide how to apply

There are normally two ways to apply for a postgraduate loan:

  • You can apply online using a new or existing student finance account.
  • You can apply by post, using forms downloaded from your loan provider.

If you have previously had an undergraduate loan (and your residency status has not changed) you should apply to the same student finance body, using an existing account. Doing this online will normally be faster.

If your residency status has changed, your postgraduate loan will be paid by a new student finance provider. If so you may not be able to create a second student finance account and should apply by post instead.

EU students can apply online or by post, but are more likely to require additional supporting documents.

Application walkthrough: 2016 & 2017 English postgraduate loans

Who should apply for an English postgraduate loan?

You should apply for one of these loans if you are an English resident looking for a loan to study a postgraduate course in the UK, or an EU student from outside the UK looking for a loan to study in England.

The following is a step-by-step guide to the online application process for English Masters loans. You can also read our guide to applying for a loan by post.

These loans may be available to you if you are beginning a UK Masters in 2017 or if you began a UK Masters in 2016 and have not yet applied for student finance.

In order to receive a loan you must normally be a UK student, ordinarily resident in England or an EU, EEA or Swiss student, ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland. Other eligibility criteria may also apply.

Online applications - a step-by-step guide

The following are the stages you will complete during your Masters loan application.

We've summarised on each step of the process, so you can see what will be involved and what information you will need to provide.

This information is based on the system run by Student Finance England. It is correct to the best of our knowledge, but is meant as a general overview only.


1. Create an account and / or log in

Before you can use the online system you'll need a student finance account.

You may already have one if you've applied to Student Finance England before (for your undergraduate degree, for example). If so you should log in with your existing account and customer reference number (CRN).

In order to create a new account you'll need to provide personal information, including your National Insurance number (if you have one).

Note that if you have previously applied for a loan from another UK student finance body you may need to apply to Student Finance England by post, rather than creating an additional online student finance account.


2. Select the type of student finance you are applying for

The online system covers a range of student finance options. To apply for a Masters loan, you should select Higher education and then Postgraduate.

This will ensure that the right eligibility criteria and finance options are used for your application.

The online service will offer some guidance to ensure you are applying for the right type of finance for your course. You can read more about eligible courses in our full postgraduate loans guide.

At this point you also be reminded that the information you give during your application must be genuine (and that knowingly providing false information is an offense).


3. Confirm your course start date

The next step is to state whether you have already begun your Masters and give the (past or future) start date for your course.

There are actually two 'versions' of the English postgraduate loan:

  • Students beginning in the 2016-17 academic year can receive up to £10,000, paid across the first two years of their course.
  • Students beginning in the 2017-18 academic year can receive up to £10,280, paid across four years of their course.

By checking your start date, the online system can determine which loan you are eligible for.


4. Give your nationality

You must now select your nationality, from one of four groups:

  • UK national
  • Irish national (you will next be asked to select between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
  • EU national
  • National of another country

If you select UK (including Northern Ireland) you will be asked where your permanent home was / will be at the beginning of the first academic year of your course*.

If you select EU, Republic of Ireland or another country, you will be asked if you have / will have lived in the UK for 3 years or more immediately prior to the beginning of the first academic year of your course*.

Note that the answers you give to these questions (and follow-up questions) will be used to check your loan eligibility:

  • UK students must normally have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the beginning of their course, most recently in England.
  • EU, EEA and Swiss students must normally have been ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years, but do not have to be living in England until their course begins.

If your answers do not fit these requirements you may not be able to proceed with your application.

In some cases, students who do not fit these residency criteria may still be eligible. If so, you should contact Student Finance England to discuss your case.

*For students who have already started a Masters, this will be 1st September 2016; for new postgraduates, this will be 1st September 2017.


5. Provide details of any postgraduate qualifications

You'll first be asked whether you hold an existing postgraduate degree. This is to make sure you don't already have a qualification at Masters level or above.

If you don't hold a postgraduate degree you can answer 'no' and skip this step.

Otherwise, a range of options will be available to select from. Those in red will make you ineligible for a loan. Those in green will not affect your eligibility:

  • A PhD (or other doctoral degree)
  • A Postgraduate Masters (such as an MA, MSc or MRes)
  • An Integrated Masters (such as an MArch, MChem or MPhys)
  • A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) or Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)
  • An Honorary Masters (awarded without study - such as an automatically conferred Oxbridge MA)

If you hold a postgraduate qualification that is not listed above you can select 'other'. This may be necessary if you hold an overseas qualification (for example, if you are applying as an EU student with an undergraduate degree from your home country). You will then be prompted for more information about your course, subject and university.

Student Finance England will check the details of any foreign qualifications when you submit your application. Provided they are not equivalent to a UK Masters degree, you should still be eligible.


6. Confirm you are studying a full Masters

English postgraduate loans are only available for full Masters degrees*. These qualifications are normally worth 180 credits**.

Other qualifications such as the Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits**) or Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits**) are not eligible, nor are programmes of study which will 'top up' existing qualifications to full Masters level.

Provided you are studying (or will be studying) a full 180 credit Masters, you can continue with your application.

*This criteria only applies to English and Welsh Masters funding. Loans in Northern Ireland and Scotland are available for some postgraduate courses below Masters level.

**One UK credit is roughly equivalent to two ECTS credits.


7. Provide details of your university

Next you will be asked to enter the name of the university at which you wish to study a Masters. The name you type will be matched with an institution in the system's database.

If you cannot find your university, check you have typed its name correctly and that it is eligible to accept students with postgraduate loans. Eligible universities must be based in the UK, with degree awarding powers.

If you are applying as an EU student you should ensure that the university you select matches your residency status:

  • If you are ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, but not resident in the UK you can only live and study in England. This also applies to distance learning courses.
  • If you have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years and most recently resident in England, your eligibility is the same as a UK national. This means you can live and study in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England.

8. Provide course details

You will now need to enter information about your course.

First state whether your programme is full-time or part-time and what its course duration is.

  • Full-time courses can be one or two years long
  • Part-time courses can be two, three or four years long

Next you will be asked for the name of your course. You should give the course title as it appears on the university website (or in the FindAMasters database).

If you can't find your course make sure you've entered the correct title and selected the right mode of study and duration. One year full-time programmes won't appear if you've previously stated that you're studying for three years part-time, for example.

Remember: you can change your course (and university) later

You need to specify an eligible university and Masters degree when applying for your loan, but these don't have to be your final choice. You can change either or both later (though your loan won't be paid until you register as a student).

9. (a) UK students - provide passport details

If you are a UK student you will now be prompted to enter your passport details (if you are an EU student you should skip to step 4. (b) below).

If you have your passport to hand you can enter your surname, forename, passport number, date of issue and date of expiry.

Alternatively, you can skip this step and provide your passport details later.

If you don't have a UK passport you will need to provide alternative proof of identity. Student Finance England will ask for this when you submit your application.


9. (b) EU students - provide details of your nationality and residency status

If you are applying as an EU student, you must now select your nationality and residency status.

Your nationality must match with an eligible residency status in order for you to be eligible for a loan:

  • If you select an EU country (such as France or Italy) you will need to be ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
  • If you select a non-EU EEA country (such as Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway) or if you select Switzerland you must have worked in the UK, be working in the UK or be looking for work in the UK.

If you have selected a non-EU, EEA or Swiss nationality, you should choose from one of the following options:

  • You have a family member who is an EU national.
  • You have a family member who is an EEA or Swiss national and who is working in the UK, has worked in the UK or is looking for work in the UK.
  • You are the child of a Swiss national who will be living in the UK on the first day of your course.
  • You are the child of a Turkish national who will be working in the UK on the first day of your course.
  • You, or your spouse / civil partner, or parents / step-parents have been granted 'refugee status' by the UK government.
  • You, or your spouse / civil partner, or parents / step-parents have been granted 'humanitarian protection' by the UK government.
  • You, or your spouse / civil partner, or parents / step-parents have been granted 'permanent residence' in the UK by the UK government, with 'indefinite leave to remain'.

Note that the application will proceed regardless of what you select at this point. However, you will be asked to send evidence of your residency status after submitting your application.

If none of the options above apply to you, you will not be able to apply for a postgraduate loan online.

However, you may still be able to submit a postal application if you have a history of 'long residence' in the UK. In order for this to apply as a Masters student you must:

  • Have spent at least half your life or at least 20 years in the UK, prior to the start of the first academic year of your course.
  • Have lived lawfully in the UK for at least three years immediately prior to beginning your course.

More information on the criteria for long residence in the UK is available here.


10. Provide address details

The next step in your application is very important. In order to establish your eligibility, Student Finance England need to confirm your residency status during the three years prior to the start-date of your course.

They will do this by asking for your permanent home address.

This doesn't include a temporary address or a student address (somewhere you are only living or have only lived whilst studying a Bachelors or other degree). Instead you should give an address you permanently own or rent. Or, if you live with parents or family you should give their address.

  • The system will first ask for your permanent home address on a date three years before the start of your course.
  • It will then ask if this will still be your permanent home address at the beginning of the academic year you began / will begin your Masters in.

If your address has not changed you will have provided three years of address history and can proceed with your application. If this is not the case you will need to provide details of other addresses you have lived at, or will live at during the relevant period.

Remember: your permanent home address isn't necessarily your university address

You don't have to live at your permanent home address during your Masters course (or have mail relating to your postgraduate loan application sent there). But you must give an accurate and genuine permanent home address. If this is outside England you may not be eligible for a loan as a UK student.

11. State how much you wish to borrow

You will now state how much postgraduate loan you are requesting.

If you started your Masters in the 2016-17 academic year, this can be any amount between £1 and £10,000.

If you are starting your Masters in the 2017-18 academic year, this can be any amount between £1 and £10,280.

Remember that you can change the amount you wish to borrow later - this can be done at any point up until nine months before the end of your final academic year.


12. Request additional funding for a disability, mental-health condition or learning difficulty

Postgraduate loans do not affect your eligibility for Disabled Students' Allowance. This is a non-repayable grant that can help with the cost of your studies.

You can indicate a wish to request Disabled Students' Allowance at this point. If so you will be provided with a form to complete after you submit your Masters loan application.


13. Provide your National Insurance number and banking details if you have them

If you have not lived and worked in the UK before you may not have a UK National Insurance (NI) number or a UK bank account.

If you do have either or both of these, you should enter their details now. If you do not, you may proceed with your application, but will need to provide further information later:

  • You will need a National Insurance number if you work or claim benefits whilst studying in the UK. You can apply for one here.
  • You will need a UK bank account in order to receive payments from your postgraduate loan, but you don't need to open before you apply. See our guide to opening a UK bank account for more information.

14. Give the address of a named contact

You will now be asked to name at least one family member or friend for the Student Loans Company to contact if they lose touch with you.

This person is not involved in your loan application: they are not your guarantor, they do not need to support your application and they are not financially liable for it in any way.

You should seek permission from any contact you name.

When you have named one contact you will be asked if you can provide another, at a different address. This is optional.


15. Agree to the terms and conditions

Before you can complete your application you must confirm that you have read, understood and agreed to the terms and conditions for your postgraduate loan.

You can view (and download) these in a PDF document, here. That PDF document isn't particularly long or complicated and we recommend you read it carefully before you apply.

Important details include the following:

  • Your postgraduate loan application will create a contract between you and the Student Loans Company. This will happen when you sign the declaration form after submitting your application.
  • You must provide correct information in your application and are responsible for keeping this up to date. This includes change of address, change of course (or university) or plans to leave the country for more than three months. If you do not keep the SLC updated, you could be liable for a penalty charge or early full repayment of your full loan and interest.
  • Regulations for your postgraduate loan may change in future. You will always be able to find up to date information at the UK Government website.

If you do not agree to the terms and conditions, you cannot apply for a postgraduate loan.


Once you have completed all of these steps you can submit your application. You will have the option to review and change any information first.

Submitted applications must be reviewed by Student Finance England in order to check your eligibility and identify any further information or evidence that may be required from you. This process can take between four and six weeks.

Please note that the information in this walkthrough is offered in good faith, as a broad guide. Exact steps may vary depending on your circumstances and changes made by Student Finance England.

Applying by post

A paper application for English postgraduate loans is also available. You can use this instead of the online service if you prefer.

Some students must apply by post. This is currently the case for anyone who has previously received student finance from Student Finance Wales or Student Finance NI. If so, you will not be able to create an additional Student Finance England account.

All of the forms you need for a paper application can be downloaded from the UK government website.

Your paper application form will require the same information as the online application service. Depending on your circumstances you may also need to submit supporting evidence. This could include the following:

  • UK students without a valid, in date, UK passport will need to send their birth or adoption certificate. These documents will be returned.
  • EU students (and other international students) will need to send other materials depending on their residency status. These could include your passport, national identity card and / or birth or marriage certificates. If you cannot send additional documents you may be able to send certified copies. More information is available in the application form and supporting documents.

At the end of your application you will find a declaration form. You must sign this to confirm that the information you have provided is correct and that you accept the terms and conditions of your loan.

Completing your postgraduate loan application - what happens next

Once you've submitted your application it will be reviewed by Student Finance England. This will take place whether you apply online or by post. The time required will vary, but the standard window is quoted at four to six weeks.

What happens next depends on how much extra information is needed from you. There are three stages your application may now go through, depending on how much further information is required you:

1. Submit any additional evidence

If you need to prove your residency, qualifications or other criteria, Student Finance England will request appropriate materials from you.

You may be informed of these requirements as soon as you submit your application or you may need to wait until it has been reviewed.

2. Print, sign and send your declaration form

Your declaration form confirms that you have supplied correct information to Student Finance England and have understood the terms and conditions of your loan. Signing it will enter you into a contract with the Student Loans Company.

Postal applications will already include a declaration form. Online applications will generate one for you to print and send once your application is submitted and processed.

3. Receive your loan entitlement letter

Once your application is approved and you have sent your declaration form you will receive an entitlement letter. This confirms that Student Finance England will lend you the amount you have requested.

You don't need this letter to collect payments (they will be paid directly into your bank account) but you may need to show it to your university when arranging to pay your Masters fees.

4. Receive your first postgraduate loan payment!

All that's left to do now is to get started with your Masters. Make sure you have a valid UK bank account by this point. You'll then begin receiving loan payments as soon as the university confirms your registration and attendance.

Loan payments will be made in instalments, according to your mode of study. You'll normally receive three payments per year. For more information see our guide.

Application walkthrough: 2017 Welsh postgraduate loans

Who should apply for a Welsh postgraduate loan?

You should apply for one of these loans if you are a Welsh resident looking for a loan to study a postgraduate course in the UK, or an EU student from outside the UK looking for a loan to study in Wales.

Applications for Welsh postgraduate loans use a version of the system for English loans. This is because the loans themselves are largely similar and are paid by the Student Loans Company on behalf of Student Finance England and Student Finance Wales.

As a result, we haven't produced a full walkthrough for the Welsh Masters loans (most of the steps would be the same as those for the English application system, described above).

To apply for a Welsh postgraduate loan online, visit the Student Finance Wales website and login or create an account. You can also apply by post, after downloading an application form.

Things to bear in mind

There are some differences between English and Welsh postgraduate loan applications. In particular, you should be aware of the following:

  • You can only apply for a loan to study a Masters beginning after 1st August 2017. Unlike England, Wales did not offer loans in 2016 and they aren't available to continuing students from previous academic years.
  • UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK, most recently in Wales (not England).
  • EU students can only receive a Welsh postgraduate loan to study a Masters in Wales (unless they are already ordinarily resident in Wales).
  • The current Welsh postgraduate loans are planned as an interim system. They may be replaced with other postgraduate finance in future academic years.

Application walkthrough: 2017 Northern Irish postgraduate loans

Who should apply for a Northern Irish postgraduate loan?

You should apply for one of these loans if you are a Northern Irish resident looking for a loan to study a postgraduate course in the UK, or an EU student from outside the UK looking for a loan to study in Northern Ireland.

You can apply for a Northern Irish postgraduate loan online using the Student Finance Northern Ireland website.

Note that, unlike other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland only offers a postgraduate tuition fee loan. This will contribute up to £5,500 towards the cost of your postgraduate course. It is paid directly to your university.

The following is a walkthrough for the online Student Finance Northern Ireland postgraduate loan application system. Please note that, whilst this information is correct on publication, it's possible that some aspects of the system may change in future. Please use these steps as a guideline only.


1. Create an account and / or log in

Before you can apply online for a Northern Irish postgraduate loan, you'll need to log in.

If you've applied to Student Finance Northern Ireland before (for undergraduate finance, for example) you'll probably already have an account and a Customer Reference Number (CRN). You should use these for your postgraduate finance application too, if so.

Otherwise, you'll need to create a new account. To do so you'll need to provide personal information, including your National Insurance number (if you have one).


2. Select the type of student finance you are applying for

The first proper step in the application process is to confirm the level of degree you need a loan for. You should select 'postgraduate'.

Note that the description you see here may be slightly misleading. Though the service refers to Masters degrees, you can also receive a Northern Irish tuition fee loan for a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma.

See our full guide and FAQ if you need to double check that your intended course is eligible for a Northern Irish postgraduate loan.

At this point you will also be asked to confirm that the information you provide during the application process is correct (and presented with details of how that information will be used).


3. Confirm your course start date

The next step is to state whether you have already begun postgraduate study and give the (past or future) start date for your course.

Note that Northern Irish postgraduate loans are only available for courses starting on or after 1st August 2017. The dates you give at this point should fit these requirements.


4. Give your nationality

You must now select your nationality, from one of four groups:

  • UK national
  • Irish national (you will next be asked to select between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
  • EU national
  • National of another country

If you select UK (including Northern Ireland) you will be asked where your permanent home was / will be at the beginning of the first academic year of your course*.

If you select EU, Republic of Ireland or another country, you will be asked if you have / will have lived in the UK for 3 years or more immediately prior to the beginning of the first academic year of your course*.

Note that the answers you give to these questions (and follow-up questions) will be used to check your loan eligibility:

  • UK students must normally have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the beginning of their course, most recently in Northern Ireland.
  • EU, EEA and Swiss students must normally have been ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years, but do not have to be living in Northern Ireland until their course begins.

If the answers you give at this point do not fit eligibility requirements you may not be able to apply for a loan. However, if your circumstances would make you eligible for another UK postgraduate loan you may be redirected to an alternative student finance service.

*For new postgraduates in 2017-18, this will be 1st September 2017.


5. Confirm details of the postgraduate course you are studying

You will now be asked is you are studying a full Masters degree (worth 180 credits**).

However, unlike other UK postgraduate finance options, saying 'no' will not make you ineligible: Northern Irish ;postgraduate loans are available for Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma qualifications as well as full Masters degrees.

If you are applying for a loan to study a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma, you will be reminded that you can only ever apply for one postgraduate loan. This means you won't be able to receive a loan for your PGCert or PGDip and then subsequently request student finance for a Masters degree.

**One UK credit is roughly equivalent to two ECTS credits.


6. Provide details of your university

Next you will be asked to enter the name of your intended postgraduate university. The name you type will be matched with an institution in the Student Finance Northern Ireland database.

If you cannot find your university, check you have typed its name correctly and that it is eligible to accept students with postgraduate loans. Eligible universities must be based in the UK, with degree awarding powers.

If you are applying as an EU student you should ensure that the university you select matches your residency status:

  • If you are ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, but not resident in the UK you can only live and study in Northern Ireland. This also applies to distance learning courses.
  • If you have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years and most recently resident in Northern Ireland, your eligibility is the same as a UK national. This means you can live and study in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England.

7. Provide course details

You will now need to enter information about your course.

First state whether your programme is full-time or part-time and what its course duration is. Note that the maximum duration for a course funded by a Northern Irish postgraduate loan is three years.

Next you will be asked for the name of your course. You should give the course title as it appears on the university website (or in the FindAMasters database).

If you can't find your course make sure you've entered the correct title and selected the right mode of study and duration. Some full-time programmes won't appear if you've previously stated that you're studying part-time, for example.

It is also possible that courses outside Northern Ireland may not have been added to the Student Finance Northern Ireland database yet. If you can't find yours, check with the university offering it.

Remember: you can change your course (and university) later

You need to specify an eligible university and Masters degree when applying for your loan, but these don't have to be your final choice. You can change either or both later (though your loan won't be paid until you register as a student).

8. (EU students only) Provide details of your nationality and residency status

If you are applying as an EU student, you must now select your nationality and residency status.

Your nationality must match with an eligible residency status in order for you to be eligible for a loan:

  • If you select an EU country (such as France or Italy) you will need to be ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
  • If you select a non-EU EEA country (such as Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway) or if you select Switzerland you must have worked in the UK, be working in the UK or be looking for work in the UK.

If you have selected a non-EU, EEA or Swiss nationality, you should choose from one of the following options:

  • You have a family member who is an EU national.
  • You have a family member who is an EEA or Swiss national and who is working in the UK, has worked in the UK or is looking for work in the UK.
  • You are the child of a Swiss national who will be living in the UK on the first day of your course.
  • You are the child of a Turkish national who will be working in the UK on the first day of your course.
  • You, or your spouse / civil partner, or parents / step-parents have been granted 'refugee status' by the UK government.
  • You, or your spouse / civil partner, or parents / step-parents have been granted 'humanitarian protection' by the UK government.
  • You, or your spouse / civil partner, or parents / step-parents have been granted 'permanent residence' in the UK by the UK government, with 'indefinite leave to remain'.

Note that the application will proceed regardless of what you select at this point. However, you will be asked to send evidence of your residency status after submitting your application.

If none of the options above apply to you, you will not be able to apply for a postgraduate loan online.

However, you may still be able to submit a postal application if you have a history of 'long residence' in the UK. In order for this to apply as a Masters student you must:

  • Have spent at least half your life or at least 20 years in the UK, prior to the start of the first academic year of your course.
  • Have lived lawfully in the UK for at least three years immediately prior to beginning your course.

More information on the criteria for long residence in the UK is available here.


9. Provide address details

In order to establish your eligibility you must confirm your residency status during the three years prior to the start-date of your course.

To do this, you must give your permanent home address.

This doesn't include a temporary address or a student address (somewhere you are only living or have only lived whilst studying a Bachelors or other degree). Instead you should give an address you permanently own or rent. Or, if you live with parents or family you should give their address.

  • The system will first ask for your permanent home address on a date three years before the start of your course.
  • It will then ask if this will still be your permanent home address at the beginning of the academic year you began / will begin your Masters in.

If your address has not changed you will have provided three years of address history and can proceed with your application. If this is not the case you will need to provide details of other addresses you have lived at, or will live at during the relevant period.

Remember: your permanent home address isn't necessarily your university address

You don't have to live at your permanent home address during your Masters course (or have mail relating to your postgraduate loan application sent there). But you must give an accurate and genuine permanent home address. If this is outside England you may not be eligible for a loan as a UK student.

10. Confirm you are studying in the UK

You can receive a Northern Irish postgraduate loan for a course that includes an overseas placement. But you cannot spend more than 50% of your course outside the UK.

The system will confirm that your course fits these requirements.


11. Confirm your tuition fees

Unlike other UK countries, Northern Ireland only offers postgraduate tuition fee loans. These will pay your course fees, up to a maximum value of £5,500.

Based on the university and course you have selected, the application system will now give the fees for your Masters.

You should confirm that these are correct. (Check the course listings on FindAMasters, or university web pages, if you aren't sure).

You can still apply for a loan if your course costs more than £5,500, but you will not receive any extra money.


12. State how much you wish to borrow

Next, tell the system how much postgraduate loan you would like. This cannot be more than the fees for your course (as confirmed in the previous step) but it can be less.

Remember that your loan will be paid directly to your university. If you request less than your total fees, you will need to make extra payments yourself.


13. Decide whether you want your loan to be adjustable

So far the system has calculated your loan based on the fees it thinks your university will charge you. There's a chance these may change before your course starts. If so, Student Finance Northern Ireland can automatically adjust your loan (with your permission). The maximum loan value of £5,500 will still apply.


14. Request additional funding for a disability, mental-health condition or learning difficulty

Postgraduate loans do not affect your eligibility for Disabled Students' Allowance. This is a non-repayable grant that can help with the cost of your studies.

You can indicate a wish to request Disabled Students' Allowance at this point. If so you will be provided with a form to complete after you submit your postgraduate loan application.


15. Provide your National Insurance number and banking details if you have them

If you have not lived and worked in the UK before you may not have a UK National Insurance (NI) number or a UK bank account.

If you do have either or both of these, you should enter their details now. If you do not, you may proceed with your application, but will need to provide further information later:

  • You will need a National Insurance number if you work or claim benefits whilst studying in the UK. You can apply for one here.
  • You will need a UK bank account in order to receive payments from your postgraduate loan, but you don't need to open before you apply. See our guide to opening a UK bank account for more information.

16. Give the address of a named contact

You will now be asked to name at least one family member or friend for the Student Loans Company to contact if they lose touch with you.

This person is not involved in your loan application: they are not your guarantor, they do not need to support your application and they are not financially liable for it in any way.

You should seek permission from any contact you name.

When you have named one contact you will be asked if you can provide another, at a different address. This is optional.


17. Agree to the terms and conditions

Before you can complete your application you must confirm that you have read, understood and agreed to the terms and conditions for your postgraduate loan.

You can view (and download) these in a PDF document, here. That PDF document isn't particularly long or complicated and we recommend you read it carefully before you apply.

Remember that you can consult our detailed guide and FAQ if you want to check any details for your Northern Irish postgraduate loan. We've also put together a separate guide to postgraduate loan repayments across the UK.

Once you agree to these terms and conditions, you can submit your application.


Bear in mind

Please remember that the information on this page is meant as a general guide only. It's possible that changes may be made to the online application service and the details it requires.

Application walkthrough: 2017 Scottish postgraduate loans

Who should apply for a Scottish postgraduate loan?

You should apply for one of these loans if you are a Scottish resident looking for a loan to study a postgraduate course in the UK, or an EU student from outside the UK looking for a loan to study in Scotland.

Applications for Scottish student loans use a new online system, launched for 2017. You will need to register with Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) and create an account in order to apply.

You should apply for one of these loans if you are a Scottish resident looking for a loan to study a postgraduate course in the UK, or an EU student from outside the UK looking for a loan to study in Scotland.

The following is a walkthrough for using the SAAS system to apply for a postgraduate loan. It explains the main steps you will need to take and the information you may need to provide. Please note that this information is provided as a general guide. Specific steps or features of the SAAS system may be subject to change.


1. Personal details

You must first provide some information about yourself. This will set up your profile with SAAS. Some of the information you provide will also be used to check your eligibility.

The system will ask you to enter the following details:

  • Title
  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • National Insurance Number
  • Residency category
  • Home address

You can also provide optional telephone contact information.

Note that most of this personal information will not affect your loan eligibility. However, you must be under 60 at the beginning of your course to be eligible for the living costs portion of your postgraduate loan.

Another exception is your residency category. You will be asked to select from Scotland, Rest of UK, or EU. Under normal circumstances, only students resident in Scotland or the EU will be eligible for a Scottish postgraduate loan.


2. Course details

The next step is to provide information about the course you'll be studying.

To apply for a postgraduate loan, you will need to select 'Postgraduate' as your course type.

You must then say whether you are studying full-time or part-time. Note that if you select 'part-time' you will only be able to apply for the tuition fee portion of the Scottish postgraduate loan. See our guide for more information on programme criteria.

Next, select the institution you wish to study at, from the drop-down list. You don't necessarily need to have applied to this university yet.

You will then be able to select a course at your chosen institution. If you don't see your course listed, select 'other'. SAAS will check whether a loan is available for your course once you have submitted your application. Eligible courses should include most taught Masters and Postgraduate Diploma courses in the UK. However, courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must not also be offered at universities in Scotland.

Next, select your course start date and length. These must also match eligibility criteria. The new Scottish postgraduate loans are only available for courses beginning in autumn 2017. Maximum course length is as follows:

  • Masters - two years (full-time) or four years (part-time)
  • Postgraduate Diploma - one year (full-time) or two years (part-time)

Finally, you will need to state your year of entry. This is the year of your course you are entering (for example, if you were beginning in the second year of a two-year Masters you would select '2').


3. Residency

You must now confirm your residency status. This is an important eligibility criteria.

First, select your nationality. All nationalities are potentially eligible for a Scottish postgraduate loan, provided other criteria are met.

Next, select your country of birth (this should match any other details or identity documents you supply). If you select 'United Kingdom' you will also need to say where in the UK you were born.

Finally, select the country in which you are ordinarily resident. This is very important: in order to be eligible to apply for a Scottish postgraduate loan as a UK student, you must be ordinarily resident in Scotland (not purely for the purposes of study). Other postgraduate loans are available for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


4. Residency continued

The system will now check your recent residency history in order to confirm that you will be eligible for a loan.

First you will be asked if you expect to be ordinarily resident in Scotland on 1st August 2017. This helps confirm that you will be a Scottish resident at the beginning of your postgraduate course.

Next, you will be asked whether you have lived in Scotland for 12 months before 1st August 2017. Note that this is not the same as ordinary residence and living outside Scotland during this period will not necessarily make you ineligible. For example, you may have been temporarily living elsewhere in the UK as a student (which doesn't affect your residency status).

Finally, the system will ask if you will have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years before 1st August 2017. This confirms whether you are able to apply as a UK-resident (as opposed to an EU-resident).


5. Previous education

You must now provide details of your education so far.

First, select the country in which you attended your last school. Note that this refers to 'secondary school' or 'high school', not the college or university where you studied your undergraduate degree.

Next, give the details of your last school (including the year you left).


6. Further / higher education

You must now provide details of other qualifications you have gained since leaving school. This should include any university education, such as undergraduate (or postgraduate) degrees.

You will need to provide information about each course, including its name, level and qualification awarded as well as details of the provider (such as a university) and your start and end dates. You should also provide details of any funders - including student finance organisations.

Note that you may still be able to apply for a loan if you already hold a postgraduate qualification, but will not normally be able to apply for support with tuition fees if you have previously been funded by the SAAS.

You should complete this process for all tertiary qualifications you hold.


7. Recent activity

The next step is to enter the details of your employment and education over the past three years (since August 2014).

You can record as many activities as necessary. For each, give the start and end date, plus information on what you've been doing, the name of the organisation you did it with and where you lived at the time.


8. Other students in your household

Next, state whether there are any other students in your household receiving funding from Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

If there are, you will need to add their details including their relationship to you and their reference number, if you have it.


9. Funding type

Now comes one of the most important steps in your application. This is where you'll state which part (or parts) of the postgraduate loan you are applying for.

There are two components to the Scottish postgraduate loan:

  • The Tuition fee loan - up to £5,500 paid directly to your university.
  • The Living costs loan - up to £4,500 paid to you.

Note that the eligibility criteria for these loan components varies slightly. In order to be eligible for a living costs loan you must be a UK student, aged under 60 at the beginning of your course and studying full time.

At this point you can also indicate whether you will be applying for Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) alongside your loan. This is a separate source of support, available to students with disabilities, illnesses or related conditions.

You application for DSA will use a separate form, but you should tell SAAS now if you will be requesting this support.

Scottish postgraduate loans - payment details

Scotland's postgraduate loan system is split into two different parts. Our guide explains the difference between tuition fee and living costs loans.


10. Bank details (optional)

If you are requesting a living costs loan you will now need to provide details for a UK bank account (including account number and sort-code. This is where your loan instalments will be paid.

If you are only requesting a tuition fee loan you will not need to provide bank details (these loans are paid directly to your university by SAAS).


11. Loan amounts

Now, you must state how much you wish to borrow for each of the loans you have requested.

Other information may also be requested at this point, including the district in which your birth certificate was issued and further confirmation of your National Insurance Number.


12. Named contacts

You will need to give two named contacts for SAAS (and the Student Loans Company) to use if they cannot reach you.

These individuals will not need to give references or other information to support your application. But you should still seek their permission before selecting them.

Your contacts must also live at different addresses.


13. Term address

Next, you will need to give details of the address you will be living at during your course. This can be your home address, or it can be student accommodation.

If you don't yet know your term address, you can put your current home address and update this information later.


14. Declarations

Finally, you must confirm that you understand and accept the terms and conditions of your loan. This is very important. Any misinformation during your application (or any misconduct later) could have serious consequences.

Make sure you read all the regulations carefully. In particular, we recommend you bear in mind the following:

  • All the information you have given during your application must be correct to the best of your knowledge.
  • Any misinformation may lead to your funding being withdrawn. Prosecution could also occur if you have knowingly provided false information.
  • You will be agreeing to inform SAAS (and the Student Loans Company) of any subsequent changes in your circumstances that could affect your loan eligibility.
  • You will be formally agreeing to the repayment conditions for your loan.

Once you have accepted these terms and conditions you can submit your loan application. SAAS will review your details and contact you if any further information or evidence is required.

Bear in mind

Please remember that the information provided in this walkthrough is offered as a general guide only. Exact steps and requirements may differ slightly due to your individual circumstances.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Hopefully this page has answered most of your questions about applying for a postgraduate loan. The following FAQs may help if you still have any queries.

Do I have to apply online?

It depends which loan you are applying for:

  • Applications for Scottish postgraduate loans must be made online.
  • Applications for English, Welsh or Northern Irish postgraduate loans may be made online or offline.

How long will the application process take?

The student finance bodies will aim to process your request promptly. Some have stated target times for processing applications:

  • Student Finance England aims to deal with English loan applications within 4-6 weeks.
  • Student Awards Agency Scotland aims to process applications in time for course start dates, provided they are received by 30 June 2017.

Applications that require additional evidence may take slightly longer to process - particularly if materials such as residency evidence need to be assessed.

The best advice is to apply as early as you can. This will help ensure your loan is confirmed in time for your course.

What if I don't have a UK National Insurance number?

If you're applying for a postgraduate loan as an EU student you may not yet have a National Insurance number. This can be given to you once you arrive in the UK.

What if I don't have a UK bank account?

You must have a UK bank account in order to receive postgraduate loan payments. However, you don't need a UK bank account to apply for an English postgraduate loan. Provided you open an account in time for the start of your course you will be able to receive your payments.

The Scottish postgraduate loan application system will ask for your bank account. You should seek advice from the SAAS if you aren't able to provide this information.

There's more information on student bank accounts as part of our guide to Masters study in the UK.

What if I can't find my course when applying online?

The online application services use a database to match students with eligible courses uploaded by universities. You should be able to find your Masters degree using this system. If you can't, it may be worth trying the following:

  • Check that you've entered the correct mode of study and course duration - You will only be able to see degrees that fit the filters you've set at previous steps of the application process. Courses that are only available full-time won't appear if you have selected part-time study, for example.
  • Check that the course is eligible - Courses that aren't eligible for postgraduate loans (such as integrated Masters) won't be eligible and won't appear in the database.
  • Check with the university - Universities have been responsible for entering their own courses into course databases. It's possible that a course may have been missed by mistake.

Can I change my mind about my course or loan amount?

Yes. You can normally change your intended course before your loan is confirmed by logging back into the online service.

You may also be able to change the amount you want to borrow. For English loans you can do this at any point up to one month before the end of your payment period.

I have a UK undergraduate loan - should I use my existing account and customer details?

Yes - you should always use an existing account for your postgraduate loan application, where possible. The system may not allow you to create additional accounts.

If you cannot remember your details you can recover them by contacting the relevant student finance body.

Is there a deadline for postgraduate loan applications?

Yes, but it will depend on the loan you apply for.

  • Applications for English and Welsh postgraduate loans must be made within nine months of the start-date of the final year of your Masters (this means you may still be able to apply for a 2016-17 loan if you have already started your Masters).
  • Applications for Northern Irish postgraduate loans must be made within 9 months of the beginning of each year.
  • Applications for Scottish postgraduate loans in 2017-18 must be made by 31 March 2018.

Do I have to apply again in subsequent years of my course?

This depends on which postgraduate loan you receive:

  • Applications for English, Welsh and Scottish loans only need to be made once. You may be able to change the amount you wish to borrow, but you do not need to apply again each year.
  • Applications for Northern Irish loans must be made in each year of your course (if your course lasts longer than a year). On each occasion you will be able to apply for a loan up the maximum value of your tuition fees for that year. The total amount you request across your course cannot add up to more than £5,500.

Do I have to be accepted onto a course before I can apply for a loan?

No - you can apply for a loan before you have been accepted to study a Masters. You can even apply for a loan before applying for a Masters.

However, you will need to specify your chosen university and programme during your loan application. And payments for your loan will only begin once your registration and study are confirmed.

This means that it's probably a good idea to find a Masters before you apply for a postgraduate loan.

Where can I find out more about the postgraduate loans?

The best way to find more information on all four UK Masters degree loans is through our detailed guide. We've done our best to make sure it's the most comprehensive source of information available, with a detailed FAQ and regular updates.

Last updated - 11/08/2017

This article is the property of FindAMasters.com and may not be reproduced without permission.

Click here to search our database of Masters courses


Cookie Policy    X