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Postgraduate Loans in Scotland

Scottish postgraduate loans offer up to £10,000 towards tuition fees and living costs for a UK Masters degree or Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip). UK students must be ordinarily resident in Scotland. EU students from outside the UK must be living and studying in Scotland.

This guide explains how the loans work, with a quick summary of key details and a detailed FAQ.

Scottish postgraduate loans at a glance

Overview: Student loans for taught Masters degrees and Postgraduate Diplomas.
Value: Up to £10,000: £5,500 for tuition fees and / or £4,500 for living costs.
Eligibility: UK students ordinarily resident in Scotland. EU students may be eligible for the £5,500 tuition-fee loan.
Location: Scottish universities, or other UK universities (for courses not offered in Scotland).
Repayment: 9% of income over £17,775. Debt combined with any undergraduate loan.
Applications: Online, through the SAAS website. See our walkthrough and FAQ for more advice.

Loan amount

The Scottish postgraduate loan has two parts:

  • Up to £5,500 is available for tuition fees, paid to your university.
  • Up to £4,500 is available for living costs, paid to you in instalments.

The loans have slightly different eligibility criteria:

Tuition-fee loan Living-cost loan
Up to £5,500 Up to £4,500
UK & EU students UK students only
Full-time &: part-time courses Full-time courses only
No age restriction Only for students under 60
Paid to your university Paid to you

Tuition-fee loans vs living-cost loans

Scottish postgraduate loans work differently to others in the UK, with two separate loan components. It's important to keep this in mind and make sure you know whether criteria apply to a specific loan, or to both.

Are the loans means tested?

No. The Scottish postgraduate loan is not means tested. You can borrow up to the maximum £10,000 amount regardless of your financial circumstances.

What if my fees are more or less than £5,500?

Your university will receive an appropriate payment for your fees, up to a maximum of £5,500. No extra money will be paid if your course costs less.

If your fees are higher than £5,500 you will need to make up the difference yourself.

Can I use my maintenance loan to cover additional tuition fees?

In principle, yes. The £4,500 you can borrow for living costs will be paid directly to you in instalments. You can spend this as you wish.

Do I have to borrow the full £4,500 for living costs?

No. The amount of living cost loan you request is up to you. You cannot borrow more than £4,500, but can take less if you wish.

The cost of a Masters

How much does a UK Masters degree actually cost? Our guide explains typical postgraduate fees and living costs.

Student eligibility

To get a Scottish postgraduate tuition-fee loan you must be:

  • A UK student who has lived in the UK for the past three years and is ordinarily resident in Scotland at the beginning of your course
  • An EU student who has lived in EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years and will be living and studying in Scotland

To get a Scottish postgraduate living-cost loan you must also be:

  • Aged under 60 at the beginning of your course and studying full-time.

The living-cost loan is not available to EU students.

What counts as being 'ordinarily resident in Scotland'?

In order to qualify for a loan as a UK student your home address must be in Scotland. This means you are living there normally (not just as a student).

Other UK postgraduate loans are available for students who normally live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

What counts as the beginning of my course?

For funding purposes, the start of your course is the first day of the first academic year in which you begin postgraduate study. This will be 1st August for courses beginning in autumn 2017 or 1st January for courses beginning in spring 2018.

You must be under 60 on this date in order to apply for a living-cost loan.

Can I apply if I already have a postgraduate qualification?

If you received a loan or grant from the UK Government (either through SAAS or another organisation) you will not be able to apply for a postgraduate tuition-fee loan.

However, you may still be eligible for a living-cost loan.

Are EEA and Swiss students eligible?

Potentially. You (or a family member) must have be working in the UK, or have been granted permanent residence.

Are other international students eligible?

Students from elsewhere may be eligible for a Scottish postgraduate loan if one or more of the following apply:

  • You have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
  • You have the permanent right to live in the UK for another reason
  • You are the child of a Turkish worker

Other international students on standard Tier 4 visas will not normally be eligible. You should contact Student Awards Agency Scotland if you think an exception may apply to you.


EU eligibility for UK postgraduate loans is not affected by Brexit next year. Fee and funding guarantees are in place for the duration of courses beginning in 2018-19.

Course eligibility

Your course must be a taught postgraduate programme that awards a Masters degree, or Postgraduate Diploma.

The following courses won't be eligible for the postgraduate loans described on this page:

  • Pure research programmes (such as an MPhil or PhD)
  • Four-year integrated Masters degrees
  • Postgraduate teacher training courses (such as the PGCE, PGDE or TQFE)
  • Pre-registration Nursing courses (or other courses receiving UK undergraduate loans or funding).
  • Postgraduate Diplomas in Architecture

Are loans available for MRes (Master of Research) programmes, or MLitt degrees?

Yes, provided the university defines your programme as a taught course.

Where can I study?

UK students can receive a loan to study any eligible course in Scotland, or elsewhere in the UK (provided the same course is not available in Scotland).

EU students from outside the UK must study in Scotland. If you wish to study a Masters abroad in another UK country as an EU student you should look at other UK postgraduate loans.

How can I study?

Tuition-fee loans are available for full-time and part-time courses. Living-cost loans are only available for full-time courses.

You can't apply for a Scottish postgraduate loan to study a distance learning course delivered by a 'physical' university with a campus in the UK. However, you can apply to study an eligible Masters with the Open University.

How long can my course last?

This depends on your course:

  • Masters degrees can last up to two years full time or four years part time.
  • Postgraduate Diplomas can last up to one year full time or two years part time.


You will repay your loan on an income-contingent basis, at 9% of income over £17,775 a year.

If you already have a Scottish undergraduate loan, your two debts will be combined. You will make one monthly payment towards the total amount.

How will repayments be taken?

Repayments will be taken by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) - either as automatic deductions from your salary, or as part of your self-assessment tax return (if you are self employed).

Separate arrangements will be made with EU students living outside the UK or other graduates who do not pay UK income tax to HMRC.

When will repayments begin?

Repayments begin in the April after you graduate from your course. Note that you will still be required to repay any loan received towards a course you do not complete.

Will interest be charged?

Yes. Your postgraduate loan will begin accruing interest after the first payment is made to you. The rate for this follow the 'Plan 1' system (used for undergraduate and postgraduate loans in Scotland and Northern Ireland). The current interest rate for Plan 1 student loans is 1.25%.

When is the loan written off?

Any remaining loan balance will be written off after 35 years.

Repaying your postgraduate loan

Our separate guide has detailed information on UK postgraduate loan repayments (in Scotland and elsewhere). We've also included a handy postgraduate loan calculator.


Applications for a Scottish postgraduate loan should be made directly to Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) not to your university.

How do I apply?

You can apply for a loan online at the SAAS website.

Is there an application deadline?

Yes. In order to receive a postgraduate loan in the 2017-18 academic year you must apply before 31st March 2018

Applying for your postgraduate loan

Ready to apply for your postgraduate finance? Our Masters loan application guide includes detailed walkthroughs and FAQs.

Other UK postgraduate loans

Postgraduate loans are now available across the UK. The following table compares the different systems:

UK Postgraduate Loans Compared
England Northern Ireland Wales Scotland
Value £10,280* £5,500 £10,280** £10,000***
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.

You can stay updated with postgraduate loan news and changes by subscribing to our newsletter.

What's changing for 2018-19?

There are no confirmed changes to Scottish postgraduate loans for 2018-19. However, Scotland is considering increasing the availability of loans for part-time and distance-learning students. We'll update you as soon as we know more.

There are currently no confirmed plans for PhD loans in Scotland, however, doctoral loans are expected to be introduced in England and Wales for 2018-19.

Brexit will not affect EU students applying for a loan next year. Postgraduate funding guarantees are in place for the duration of courses beginning in 2018-19.

Search for eligible courses

Looking for a Masters in Scotland? You can use our search to view postgraduate courses at Scottish universities.

Last updated - 20/12/2017

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