The Scottish Government has confirmed plans for £10,000 Masters loans in 2017. First proposed in 2015, this new support will be available to Scottish-resident postgraduates at universities in Scotland.
This is good news if you're a Scottish student, looking to study a Masters next year, but not eligible for the postgraduate loans introduced in England in 2016.
This guide explains how the new Scottish Masters loans will work. Some details may be subject to change, but the Scottish Government has confirmed that support will be available in time for the 2017-18 academic year. In the meantime, our newsletter will help you stay updated.
|What?||Student loans for taught postgraduate courses up to Masters level.|
|How much?||Up to £10,000.|
|Who?||UK nationals ordinarily resident in Scotland. EU students may be eligible for a £5,500 tuition-fee loan.|
|Where?||Any Scottish university. Other UK universities may be included where courses aren't offered in Scotland.|
|When?||Loans will be introduced in time for the 2017-18 academic year. Applications are expected to open in April 2017.|
|Repayment?||Debt will be combined with undergraduate loans (if applicable). Repayment is expected to be made at 9% of income over £17,495.|
Loans will have a maximum value of £10,000. This is the same amount as is offered in England, but the Scottish system will work differently. Your postgraduate loan will be divided into two components:
Note that this amount has increased since Scottish Masters loans of £9,000 were originally proposed in December 2015. The new £10,000 loans are also expected to replace the £7,900 loans available for select Postgraduate Diploma courses in 2016-17.
No. Provided you meet other eligibility criteria can borrow up to the maximum £10,000 amount regardless of your income or financial circumstances.
Your university will receive an appropriate amount for your postgraduate fees, up to a maximum value of £5,500. No extra money will be paid if your course costs less than this amount.
You cannot increase the value of your tuition-fee loan above £5,500. If your fees are higher than this you will need to make up the difference yourself.
In principle, yes. The £4,500 you can borrow for living costs will be paid directly to you in instalments. You can use this money as you see fit, including for living costs.
Note, however, that the instalments for your living cost loan will not necessarily match the dates at which fees are due.
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.
EU students will be eligible for Scottish postgraduate loans in 2017-18 (support for EU postgraduates has been confirmed across the UK).
However, EU students are only able to apply for the £5,500 tuition-fee component of the loan.
Loans will be available for UK students and EU students, subject to residency criteria:
Evidence of residency may be requested as part of your application.
The living cost component of the loans is also likely to be subject to an age restriction. Eligible students will need to be aged under 60 at the beginning of your course?
In order to qualify for a loan as a UK student Scotland must be your home address. This means you are living there normally and are not in the country purely for the purposes of study.
Probably not. You have been living in Scotland for three years (or more) but have done so for the purposes of study and are not 'ordinarily resident' in Scotland.
Exceptions may apply if you have completed an undergraduate degree in Scotland in a previous year and remained in the country to work. If so you may now be regarded as being ordinarily resident in Scotland.
Yes. Your time living outside Scotland was for the purposes of study. This means you are still ordinarily resident in Scotland and can qualify for a Scottish postgraduate loan.
Note that this may not apply if you have continued living and working elsewhere after your undergraduate degree. You may then be regarded as ordinarily resident in another part of the UK.
The relevant date for postgraduate loan commencement is likely to be the 1st August 2017. In order to be eligible you must be aged under 60 and meet appropriate residency criteria at this point. Further information will be provided when applications for the loans open.
In order to be eligible for a loan your course must be a taught postgraduate programme, up to Masters level. It should also be offered at a Scottish university. Where courses aren't available in Scotland, programmes at other UK universities may be eligible.
Yes. Unlike England, Scotland is offering postgraduate loans for any taught course up to Masters level. In fact, Scotland already provides support for certain Postgraduate Diploma courses. The new loans extend this to all taught courses up to Masters level.
No. The current plans only cover taught courses. Research degrees such as the MPhil and PhD will not be eligible for support. Exceptions may apply to some qualifications such as the MRes (Master of Research) if the university defines them as taught programmes.
Yes. You will be able to study a part-time programme, lasting up to two years. Your loan will be paid on a pro-rata basis.
No. You will be able to receive a loan for any eligible taught postgraduate course, up to Masters level, at a university in Scotland.
Probably not. The loans are being introduced for courses beginning after 1st August 2017.
Repayments for the new postgraduate loans will use Scotland's current undergraduate system. You will repay your loan on an income-contingent basis, at 9% of income over £17,495 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.
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.
Repayments are expected to commence 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.
Yes. Your postgraduate loan will begin accruing interest after the first payment is made to you. The rate for this will be linked to inflation each year, via the Retail Prices Index (RPI).
These postgraduate loans have been confirmed for 2017-18 and applications are expected to open in April 2017. More specific information about certain aspects of the support may be released prior to this.
Remember that other UK countries are offering (or developing) their own postgraduate support systems:
Looking for a Masters in Scotland for 2017? You can use our search to view postgraduate courses at Scottish universities.
Unlike other UK countries, Scotland already offers a postgraduate loans system. This funding is available for courses in 2016-17, but is restricted to specific subjects and courses and only covers qualifications below Masters level.
From 2017-18 this SAAS funding will be replaced by the new Scottish postgraduate loans. You can read more about the system for 2016-17, below.
SAAS loans are available for selected courses up to postgraduate diploma level. With some limited exceptions, they do not provide funding for full Masters degrees or PhDs. In most cases they are also unavailable for qualifications that already receive public funding from another source (such as the NHS).
SAAS publishes a full list of eligible courses for postgraduate loans in 2016-17. Note that, with some limited exceptions, supported courses are delivered by universities in Scotland.
You can apply for an SAAS postgraduate loan if you are a UK national, most recently resident in Scotland. EU students are also eligible, provided they are ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
In both cases your course must have been selected for funding by SAAS (see above). This means that most full Masters degrees will not be eligible in 2016, but some postgraduate diploma (PGDip) courses are.
There are two components to Scottish postgraduate loans:
Living-cost loans are normally available to all eligible students, regardless of previous funding. Tuition fee loans are normally restricted to students who have not received postgraduate funding from public sources (such as student loans) before.
SAAS loans are repaid at 9% of income over £17,495 per year. Interest will be charged on your loan and linked to inflation via the Retail Prices Index (RPI).
You can find out more about the 2016 SAAS postgraduate loans on the SAAS website.
Got questions about the new Masters loans, or any other aspect of postgraduate study? Our experts will be on hand at this year's Postgrad LIVE! study fairs. Come along and get your questions answered.
Last updated - 19/01/2017