You may be able to get a postgraduate student loan from Student Finance England of up to £11,836 to help pay for a Masters degree. The money is paid to you and only needs to be repaid when you're earning over £21,000 a year.
|Overview:||Postgraduate loans for Masters in all subjects.|
|Value:||Up to £11,836 in 2022-23.|
|Eligibility:||UK nationals resident in England / people with EU settled status or indefinite leave to remain, resident in England.|
|Location:||Any UK university.|
|Repayment:||6% of income over £21,000.|
|Applications||Now open for 2021-22 programmes!|
You can borrow up to £11,836 with an English postgraduate loan for a Masters starting in 2022-23. This amount was £11,570 for the 2021-22 academic year.
The money will be paid directly to your bank account to use for tuition fees and / or living costs. There isn't a separate postgraduate maintenance loan.
Payments are divided equally across your course and paid in three instalments per academic year.
The exact value of each instalment depends on how much loan you request and how long your course is. Student Finance England will write to you to confirm when instalments are due.
Masters loans aren’t means-tested. You can borrow the same amount regardless of your income or savings.
Students who have already started a Masters can borrow slightly less:
You can only have one postgraduate loan, but you can combine this support with other postgraduate funding.
Got another question about the postgraduate loan amount or payment process? Check if we've answered it below!
The value of an English postgraduate loan isn't linked to tuition fees. You can borrow up to the maximum regardless of how much your Masters degree costs.
You can still borrow up to the maximum amount. The remaining money can be used for accommodation, living expenses or other things – it’s up to you.
You can borrow anything between £1 and the maximum.
Postgraduate student finance is provided as one loan to help with tuition and / or living costs. There is no additional postgraduate maintenance loan.
Exceptions apply if you are already receiving (or about to receive) other public funding for your Masters (money provided by the UK Government). This includes NHS bursaries and Research Council studentships.
You can use a loan request form to can change your postgraduate loan amount at any point up to nine months from the first day of your final academic year.
Yes. The maximum value of a postgraduate Masters loan increases with inflation each year, but the rise only applies to new students.
You’ll receive your first payment soon after your university confirms your attendance on your course. The money will be paid directly into your UK bank account.
You should notify Student Finance England immediately if your postgraduate loan is overpaid. This could happen if you withdraw from your Masters without notification and continue to receive loan instalments when you aren’t studying.
Overpayments may need to be paid back directly, rather than through the normal income-contingent repayment system.
The English postgraduate loan is available to UK students, provided you meet the following eligibility criteria:
You may also be eligible for a loan if one of the following applies:
There is helpful advice on the UKCISA website if you aren't sure about your eligibility as a non-UK student.
If you’re a UK student who normally lives in another part of the UK, you'll need to apply for a different postgraduate loan.
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national beginning a Masters in England from August 2021 onwards, you will only be eligible for a postgraduate loan if you have EU settled or pre-settled status.
In order to apply for EU settled status, you’ll need to have been living in the UK before 31 December 2020.
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national studying a Masters in the 2020-21 academic year, you will be eligible for UK student finance for the duration of your programme. However, you may need to apply for a student visa if you’re arriving in the UK to begin a Masters in January 2021.
Here are the answers to some other common questions about postgraduate loan eligibility.
You’ll be asked to provide at least three years’ address history during your postgraduate loan application. Student Finance England may query any details that might affect your eligibility.
To be eligible for an English Masters loan as a UK student you must be ordinarily resident in England. This means that England is where you normally live and you haven’t moved there just to go to university.
You will normally count as being ordinarily resident in England if any or all of the following are true:
You will still count as an English-resident if you have studied your undergraduate degree in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and want to continue straight on to a Masters. This means you will be able to apply for an English postgraduate loan.
Because you only moved to England to study, your residency status won’t have changed. You will still count as being ordinarily resident in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and should apply for a postgraduate loan from the country you lived in before you went to university.
Yes, you can get a postgraduate loan if you are a UK national, were living in the EEA or Switzerland prior to 31 December 2020 and will continue to do so prior to the start of your course. You must be coming to study your Masters in England before 1 January 2028. You'll also need to have been living in the EEA, Switzerland, Gibraltar or the UK for the past three years.
Living and working in a different part of the UK means you aren’t just there to go to university. This can change your residency status.
The same would be true for an English student who had lived and worked elsewhere in the UK after graduating.
If you aren’t sure about your residency status, check with Student Finance England.
In order to apply for a loan as a UK student you must have lived in the UK for three years prior to your course. You can travel for holidays or other periods of ‘temporary absence’ from the UK during this period, but you shouldn’t have become ordinarily resident in another country.
Postgraduate loans are a student finance product, not a commercial loan. Your personal credit rating and existing debts won’t matter.
The only exception concerns existing arrears with the Student Loans Company. If you owe undergraduate loan repayments that should have been made you won’t be able to apply for a postgraduate loan until these are dealt with.
Yes. You can have a job during your Masters and still access postgraduate student finance.
You can’t receive student loans for different degrees simultaneously. This means that you can’t apply for a postgraduate loan whilst you’re still getting payments from an undergraduate loan.
You won’t be able to apply for a new loan if you have already had one for a previous Masters. This applies regardless of whether or not you completed that course.
Similarly, you can't apply for an English Masters loan if you have previously had another UK postgraduate loan. This applies even if your previous loan was for a non-Masters course.
No. Postgraduate Masters loans are only available to people without existing Masters-level qualifications (or higher). Unfortunately you won’t be able to apply if you already have a Masters you paid for yourself.
Yes. You can still apply for a loan for a new Masters degree if you already have a postgraduate qualification below Masters level, such as a PGCert or PGDip.
However, you can’t have a loan to study one of these courses or upgrade an existing qualification to a full Masters.
No. You can’t apply for a loan if you already hold a PhD (or other doctorate). Loans are only available if you don’t already have existing qualifications at Masters level or above.
Yes. Provided you didn’t graduate with a Masters degree and didn’t receive a postgraduate loan for it, you can apply for a loan to study a new course.
No. If you have already completed an integrated Masters (a course that began at undergraduate level but eventually awarded a Masters degree) you won’t be able to receive a loan for a second ‘standalone’ Masters.
Some universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, automatically award their graduates with an MA degree after a certain period of time has elapsed. These degrees don’t require any additional examination and are not separate qualifications. As such, they won’t make you ineligible for a loan to study a postgraduate Masters.
English Postgraduate Masters loans are only available to students under 60. This means you must be aged 59 or younger when your degree starts.
This is based on the first day of the academic year not your enrolment date or the date of your first class, lecture, etc.
The first day of the first academic year is normally as follows:
|Course starts between||First day of academic year|
|1 August - 31 December||1 September|
|1 January - 31 March||1 January|
|1 April - 30 June||1 April|
|1 July - 31 July||1 July|
Note that the age limit only applies at the beginning of your course. You will continue to receive your loan after you turn 60, provided you are 59 or younger when your Masters starts.
From the 2021-22 academic year onwards, EU, EEA (Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) and Swiss students will usually only be eligible for postgraduate loans if they were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and have applied for EU settled status.
Students from countries outside the UK and Ireland aren’t normally eligible for postgraduate loans.
Exceptions may apply if you’re an EU national with settled or pre-settled status in the UK, have lived in the UK legally for a very long time, have been granted humanitarian protection or have refugee status.
For more information on UK fees and finance as a postgraduate student we recommend you check the resources produced by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).
And, if you can't get a postgraduate loan, you might still be eligible for other international Masters funding in the UK.
To get a postgraduate loan your course must be a full postgraduate Masters degree. This means:
The type of Masters you want to study doesn't matter. You can get a postgraduate loan for an MA, an MSc, an MBA or other postgraduate Masters.
Your course can be a taught or research Masters and you can study it at any UK university (the loans are ‘portable’). You can also study full-time, part-time or by distance learning, subject to the following restrictions:
Please note that if you're an Irish national moving to the UK to study, you'll only be able to use the loan for a course at an English university.
There are no other subject restrictions for a Masters loan. You can study an MSc in Applied Chemistry, an MA in Ancient History, an MBA in International Marketing – or any other postgraduate courses.
Here are the answers to other questions about the courses you can get a postgraduate loan for.
Yes. You can receive a loan for a Master of Laws (LLM).
The MArch (Master of Architecture) is normally an undergraduate qualification and is eligible for undergraduate student finance. However, you may be eligible for a postgraduate loan if your MArch is a part-time course (and isn’t eligible for an undergraduate loan).
No. You can’t receive an English Masters loan for a postgraduate qualification below Masters level such as a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert), Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) or Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
You can’t apply for a Masters loan to complete a doctoral degree (even if it includes a Masters). However, separate PhD loans have been introduced for English-resident UK students and EU students.
If you are ordinarily resident in England before your course, you can use your loan to study anywhere in the UK.
If you are an EU student and are ordinarily resident outside the UK, you can only use your loan to study in England.
You may be able to receive a loan to study a Masters at an alternative provider in the UK, provided it has been granted degree awarding powers or your course has been specifically designated for postgraduate loans.
Your institution should be able to tell you if this is the case.
You can’t get a postgraduate loan to study a full Masters abroad, or for a degree awarded by a university outside the UK.
However, you can study part of your Masters in another country, provided this doesn’t account for more than 50% of your course.
You can switch Masters courses and continue to receive your postgraduate loan. This includes changing to a new course at the same university, or moving to a new institution. However, your new course must also be eligible for a loan.
Note that you can only continue your current postgraduate loan when switching courses; you can’t apply for a ‘fresh’ loan to start a different course. This means that switching courses won’t increase the maximum amount you are able to borrow.
No, you can’t receive postgraduate loan payments to repeat part of your course (even if you haven’t yet borrowed the full amount).
However, it may be possible for your postgraduate loan payments to resume once you have ‘caught up’ with your Masters.
Your postgraduate loan will only be paid whilst you are studying. Your university will confirm your attendance at the beginning of each academic year, but you are responsible for informing Student Finance England if you suspend your studies.
If this happens you will stop receiving postgraduate payments, but may be able to resume your loan with your course.
You can’t normally receive more than one postgraduate loan. However, exceptions may apply if you have compelling personal reasons (CPR) for not being able to complete your original degree.
Compelling personal reasons could include medical issues or a personal crisis that prevents you progressing through your degree. You should contact Student Finance England to discuss your case with them if necessary.
Your application will be handled by Student Finance England, on behalf of the Student Loans Company and the UK Government.
The application process is quite simple. If you already have an account with Student Finance England you should use your existing Customer Reference Number (CRN) to login and provide details of your course, your residency information and the amount you wish to borrow.
You don’t need to be accepted for a Masters before you can apply for a postgraduate loan, but you will need to nominate an eligible course (you can change this later if you like). You can read more about the process in our application guide.
The deadline for a postgraduate loan application is quite relaxed: you must apply within nine months of the first day of your final application year. This will normally be as follows:
|1 August to 31 December||9 months from 1 September|
|1 January to 31 March||9 months from 1 January|
|1 April to 30 June||9 months from 1 April|
|1 July to 31 July||9 months from 1 July|
You can also change the amount you wish to borrow (up to the maximum) at any point within this period.
Here are the answers to some more common questions about applying for a postgraduate loan.
You can start to apply whenever you like, once the applications are open. It's a good idea to apply as early as possible if you definitely want to receive loan payments in time for your course start date. You can also apply later in your degree if you like – it's up to you.
Yes. If you have already have an account with Student Finance England you must use it to apply for your Masters loan.
No. You can apply by post if you prefer, but online applications are normally faster.
Note that students who have previously received an undergraduate loan from Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland or Student Awards Agency Scotland may need to apply by post for a Masters loan from Student Finance England.
Yes, you can change your mind before you begin your course (for example, if you decide to start your Masters next year instead) and cancel your application.
There is no pro-rata reduction for later Masters loan applications. You can always request the maximum loan amount, provided you do so before the deadline (nine months after the start of your final year).
Postgraduate loan applications re-open for each new academic year. You can apply now for a course that started in 2021-22 (or earlier). Applications for 2022-23 will open in June 2022.
Loans for September courses should be processed in time if you apply promptly.
The first thing to do if your application is refused is to check you definitely meet the eligibility criteria (described further up this page). You should then make sure you have entered all your information correctly, particularly your address history and residency details.
You won’t start repaying your loan until the April after you graduate.
You’ll then be eligible to make repayments on an income-contingent basis at 6% of what you earn over £21,000 a year.
If you are employed this deduction will be taken automatically by HMRC each month, whenever you earn more than £1,750 (the monthly equivalent of £21,000 per year). If you are self-employed you will need to make student loan repayments as part of your annual tax return.
Repayments for postgraduate loans are made in parallel with undergraduate loans. If you have both student loans you will make two repayments as follows:
As well as the money you have borrowed, you will also have to repay interest charged on your loan. This is based on the Retail Prices Index (RPI) +3% and will begin accumulating as soon as you receive your first loan payment.
RPI is recalculated each April based on current inflation measurements. The interest rate for a Masters loan will become 4.5% in March 2022, but this changes each September.
Any remaining postgraduate loan debt is written off after 30 years, regardless of how much you have left to pay.
We've answered some common questions about repaying a postgraduate loan.
You will become eligible to repay your postgraduate loan on the 6th April after your Masters ends. This is called ‘entering repayment’. However, no students will enter repayment until 6th April 2021.
Remember too that you only ever repay your loan when you are earning over £21,000 a year.
No. The annual repayment threshold for undergraduate loans has risen annually from 2018, but the threshold for postgraduate loans remains at £21,000. Our newsletter updates will let you know if this changes.
HMRC will automatically deduct your postgraduate loan repayment at 6% of your gross income over £21,000 a year (or the monthly equivalent of £1,750). This means that deductions will be calculated before other deductions such as income tax, national insurance and undergraduate loan repayments are taken.
You will be responsible for making any repayments that HMRC cannot deduct automatically. This can normally be done through your tax return at the end of the financial year.
No. Unlike undergraduate loans, interest on postgraduate loans is the same for all borrowers. It won’t increase if you earn more.
All postgraduate loan payments are subject to the same repayment criteria. You can leave your course and cancel your remaining loan, but you will still be eligible to repay any money you have received so far.
We've tried to make this guide and FAQ as comprehensive as possible, but we'll do our best to help if you've got a question we haven't covered. Simply email editor[at]findamasters.com with your query. You can also sign up for our free weekly newsletter for regular news about student finance changes, applications and deadlines, as well as general funding tips.
Remember that the postgraduate student loan isn't the only way to pay for a Masters. There are a range of other funding options available.