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Postgraduate Loans in Scotland


Postgraduate tuition-fee and living cost loans in Scotland offer up to £10,000 to study a taught Masters degree or Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) at any UK university. Applications are now open for 2018-19.

These loans are available to students who are ordinarily resident in Scotland and EU students who are moving to Scotland for a postgraduate course.

Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) provides the money to you on behalf of the Student Loans Company. You only pay it back after you’ve graduated and are earning over £18,330 a year.

On this page


Scottish postgraduate loans - at a glance
Overview: Student loans for full-time, part-time and distance learning Masters and PGDip courses.
Value: Up to £10,000.
Eligibility: UK nationals resident in Scotland. EU nationals resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
Location: Any UK university (if course is not available in Scotland).
Repayment: 9% of annual income over £18,330. Interest at 1.5%.
Application: Now open for 2018-19 courses.

What can I borrow?

The Scottish postgraduate loan offers a maximum of £10,000, split into in two parts:

  • A tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 is available for UK and EU students of any age on full-time or part-time courses. This is paid directly to your university.
  • A living-cost loan of up to £4,500 is available for UK students aged under 60 on full-time courses. This is paid into your bank account.

SAAS will split the money evenly across your course as follows:


Annual postgraduate loan amounts
Course length 1 year 2 years 3 years 4 years
Tuition fee loan £5,500 £2,750 £1,833 £1,375
Living cost loan £4,500 £2,250 - -
Based on maximum loan value, with figures rounded to the nearest £1. Living-cost loans are not available for courses lasting longer than two years.

Each year's loan will be paid to you (or your university) in regular instalments.

The value of your tuition fee loan will be capped at the level of your tuition fees, up to the maximum of £5,500. You can’t request more than your course costs and you can’t borrow extra for a course that costs more than £5,500. You can request less than the maximum if you like (for example, if you’d rather use other funding, income or savings for part of your fees).

It’s up to you how much you borrow for your living-cost loan. The money isn’t means-tested or based on your credit history.

Am I eligible?

To get a Scottish postgraduate loan you need to be a UK or EU student, studying an eligible course at a UK university. More specific criteria apply to each of the loans.

To get a tuition feet loan you must:

  • Be a UK or EU student who has lived in the UK for three years and is ordinarily resident in Scotland or an EU student who has lived in the EU, EEA or Switzerland for three years and is moving to live and study in Scotland (Scottish postgraduate loans are unaffected by Brexit in 2018-19)
  • Not have received government-funding for a previous postgraduate course (exceptions may apply to PhDs)

To get a living-cost loan you must:

  • Be a UK student who has lived in the UK for three years and is ordinarily resident in Scotland
  • Be under 60 (aged 59 or younger) on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • Be studying full time

In order to qualify as ordinarily resident in Scotland you must live there normally (not just when you are at university). Different loans are available for postgraduate students from other parts of the UK.

You may be able to apply if you aren’t a UK or EU citizen, but are:

  • An EEA or Swiss migrant worker (or the family member of one)
  • The child of either a Swiss national or a Turkish worker
  • Someone with the right to live in the UK as a refugee or under humanitarian protection
  • Someone who has lived legally in the UK for a substantial proportion of your life

Check with SAAS if you aren’t sure about your eligibility criteria. You can also seek advice from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

Scottish loan FAQs

Got a question about postgraduate loans in Scotland and can't see it answered in the main guide? Why not check to see if we've covered it in the detailed FAQs at the bottom of this page.

Is my course eligible?

You can get a Scottish postgraduate loan for a taught Masters degree or Postgraduate Diploma in any subject.

To count as a taught course your degree must involve some timetabled teaching. This can include some Master of Research (MRes) or Research-based Master of Letters (MLitt) programmes, but ‘pure research’ degrees such as the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) won’t usually be eligible.

You can study full time or part time at any university in Scotland. Or, you can study full-time at another UK university, provided you are ordinarily resident in the UK and your course is not available in Scotland.

The length of your course depends on whether you study full time or part time:


Maximum study length
Full time Part time
Masters 2 years 4 years
Postgraduate Diploma 1 year 2 years

Part-time courses cannot last for more than twice the length of an equivalent full-time option.

Distance learning courses are also eligible in 2018-19.

How do I apply?

You should apply for a Scottish postgraduate loan online at the SAAS website. You’ll need to provide details of the course you’ll be studying as well as your national insurance (NI) number and details of your address history (to show that you meet the necessary residency and eligibility criteria).

The deadline for applications for 2018-19 courses is 31 March 2019. This means that you can potentially apply after you start your course. However, to guarantee that your tuition-fee loan is ready in time, you should apply before 30 June 2018.

You can find more information and advice in our postgraduate loan application guide.

How do repayments work?

You’ll be liable to repay your postgraduate loan from 6 April, the year after you graduate.

Your repayments will be calculated using an income-contingent system. You’ll repay 9% of what you earn over £18,330 a year (£1,528 per month).

How you repay will depend on your employment status:

  • If you are employed in the UK, HMRC will automatically make deductions from your pay on behalf of the Student Loans Company (this will normally happen monthly)
  • If you are self-employed in the UK, you will need to make repayments when you complete your annual tax return
  • If you are working outside the UK, you must contact the Student Loans Company to arrange direct repayments
  • If you are unemployed, you will not make repayments

If you already have a Scottish undergraduate loan your two repayments will be combined (you’ll make one smaller repayment towards a larger loan balance, instead of two equal repayments towards separate balances).

You will pay interest on your loan at a rate linked to inflation. The current rate is 1.5%. This interest will begin accumulating as soon as your first loan instalments are paid.

Any unpaid loan balance (including interest) will be cancelled after 35 years (from the date you became liable to make repayments).

Repayment guides

Looking for more detailed information on postgraduate repayments? Our full guide includes a range of advice and examples.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have a specific question about the Scottish postgraduate loans that you can’t find the answer to in our guide? We might have covered it here.

Our list of FAQs is always growing based on conversations with the Student Loans Company and feedback from students at our postgraduate study events.

Take a look below and see if we’ve covered your question. If we haven’t, get in touch with us by emailing editor[at]findamasters.com and we’ll do our best to help.

Do I have to borrow the full amount?

No. You decide how much tuition fee loan and / or living-cost loan you’d like to request, up to the maximum.

What if my fees are lower than £5,500?

The value of your tuition-fee loan is linked to your course fees. You can’t borrow more than the cost of your degree and won’t receive any ‘remaining’ money.

What if my fees are higher than £5,500?

You can’t borrow any more than £5,500 with the tuition fee loan, regardless of how much your fees are. You will have to make up the difference with savings, income or other postgraduate funding.

Can I use some of my living-cost loan to pay fees?

Yes. The living-cost loan is paid directly to your bank account. This means you can use the money as you wish, including to top up your tuition fee loan.

Are Scottish postgraduate loans means-tested?

No. Neither the tuition fee loan or the living-cost loan are means tested. Your eligibility isn’t affected by your income and savings (or your parents’).

Will my credit history be taken into account?

No. Your personal credit rating will not affect your eligibility for a Scottish postgraduate loan.

However, your application may be refused if you have had a previous student loan and missed repayments that were due. You may also be deemed ‘unsuitable for student finance’ if you have been found guilty of committing fraud in the past.

When will my first loan payments be made?

Provided you apply by June 30 2018, SAAS should be able to ensure your tuition fee loan reaches your university in time to cover initial fees.

The first instalment of your living-cost loan should also arrive close to the start date for your course. Subsequent instalments will be spread evenly across your degree.

Can I still receive Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)?

Yes. Receiving a postgraduate loan doesn’t affect your eligibility for postgraduate DSA.

Can I combine a Scottish postgraduate loan with other funding?

You can receive a postgraduate loan in addition to most other postgraduate funding, provided it isn’t provided by the Scottish Government (or the UK Government).

And, of course, you can also combine a loan with a FindAMasters scholarship.

If you receive funding from the NHS or another public body (such as the UK Research Councils) you should check whether it affects your eligibility for a postgraduate loan.

Can I apply for a Scottish postgraduate loan if I already have a postgraduate degree?

You won’t normally be able to receive a tuition fee loan if you’ve already had government funding (including another UK postgraduate loan) for a previous postgraduate course.

However, you may still be eligible for a living-cost loan for a new Masters or Postgraduate Diploma.

How does the age limit work?

You must be aged 59 or younger on the first day of the first academic year of your course to qualify for the living-cost loan. This date will normally be as follows:


Academic year - postgraduate loans
Course starts between First day of academic year
1st August - 31st December 1st September
1st January - 31st March 1st January
1st April - 30th June 1st April
1st July - 31st July 1st July

There is no age limit for the tuition fee loan.

What counts as being ‘ordinarily resident’ in Scotland?

To be eligible for a Scottish postgraduate loan as a UK student you must be ordinarily resident in Scotland at the start of your course. This means that Scotland 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 Scotland if any or all of the following are true:

  • You lived in Scotland before you went to university for your Bachelors degree
  • You received an undergraduate loan from Student Awards Agency Scotland
  • You have lived and worked in Scotland after graduating from university

If you think you are ordinarily resident in another part of the UK you should apply for a loan in England, Wales or Northern Ireland instead.

What if I have moved from Scotland to another part of the UK for my undergraduate degree?

You will still count as being ordinarily resident in Scotland (living elsewhere to study doesn’t affect your residency).

What if I have moved to Scotland from another part of the UK for my undergraduate degree?

You will still count as being ordinarily resident in the country you lived in before you went to university and should apply for a different UK postgraduate loan.

What if I work after my undergraduate degree, instead of going straight into a Masters?

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.

For example:

  • You live in Scotland but go to university in Wales. After graduating you stay in Wales to work for several months and eventually decide to study a Masters the following year. You will now count as being ordinarily resident in Wales and should apply for a Welsh postgraduate loan rather than a Scottish postgraduate loan.

If you aren’t sure about your residency status, check with SAAS.

Can I get a Scottish postgraduate loan if I’ve been living outside the UK?

You’ll normally need to have been living in the UK for three years prior to the start of your course in order to be eligible for a postgraduate loan.

However, an exception may be made if you were living abroad temporarily for a period of work or study. Check with SAAS before you apply.

Are EU students eligible for Scottish postgraduate loans?

Yes, but some of the eligibility criteria are slightly different:

  • You do not need to have been living in the UK for the last three years, but you must have been living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland
  • If you are ordinarily resident in Scotland you can study elsewhere in the UK; if you are moving to the UK, you will only be able to get a Scottish loan to study at a Scottish university (other loans are available for Wales, England and Northern Ireland)
  • You will only be eligible for a tuition fee loan (not a living-cost loan)

Will Brexit affect Scottish postgraduate loans?

Not immediately. The Scottish Government has guaranteed that EU students will pay the same fees and have access to UK student finance for courses beginning in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years.

Are EEA or Swiss students eligible for Scottish postgraduate loans?

Yes, you may be eligible if the following apply:

  • You (or a family member) are working (or have worked) in the UK
  • You have lived in the EEA or Switzerland during the last three years

If so, you will be eligible for the loan on a similar basis to EU students.

Are other international students eligible for Scottish postgraduate loans?

You may be eligible as a non-EU, EEA or Swiss student if you have lived legally in the UK for a long time and / or have granted humanitarian protection or recognised as a refugee.

For more information on UK fees and finance as a postgraduate student we recommend you check the resources produced by UKCISA.

And, if you can't get a postgraduate loan, you might still be eligible for other international Masters funding.

Can I get a Scottish postgraduate loan for a Master of Research (MRes)?

Scottish postgraduate loans are only available for taught courses. However, this can include some MRes qualifications, provided your university defines the programme as a taught degree. Check if you aren’t sure.

Can I get a Scottish postgraduate loan for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil)?

No. The MPhil is a research degree (similar to a PhD) and isn’t eligible for a postgraduate loan in Scotland.

Can I get a Scottish postgraduate loan for an MBA (Master of Business Administration)?

Yes, although fees for most MBA programmes are likely to be higher than the £5,500 you can borrow with a Scottish tuition fee loan.

Can I get a Scottish postgraduate loan for an LLM (Master of Laws)?

Yes, provided the qualification is a full taught Master of Laws degree, not a shorter Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Can I get a Scottish postgraduate loan for a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)?

Yes. Student loans in Scotland are available for PGDip courses. These are shorter postgraduate qualifications that can last for up to one year (full time) but don’t usually include a dissertation.

Note that Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) courses aren’t normally eligible.

Can I get a Scottish postgraduate loan for a PhD (or other doctorate)?

Not yet. PhD loans are being introduced for in England and Wales this year, but Scotland has not announced any similar funding.

You can keep up with any future changes by signing up to our newsletter – we’ll let you know as soon as new funding is announced.

Where can I study?

UK-resident students (including EU nationals) can study full time anywhere in the UK, provided their course isn’t available in Scotland (part-time courses are only funded at Scottish universities).

EU students can only use a Scottish postgraduate loan to study in Scotland.

How do I know if my course isn’t available at a Scottish university?

This probably won’t be a problem for most specialised Masters degrees. You should probably check with SAAS if you want to study a fairly broad or generic programme at another UK university.

Can I repeat a year of study?

Yes. Scotland offers an extra ‘plus one’ year of postgraduate loan funding if you need to repeat part of your course. You can only receive this additional student finance once (both undergraduate and postgraduate study count towards that limit).

What happens if I want to change course?

You can take your remaining loan with you to a new course, but should notify SAAS if you plan to transfer.

You may also be able to use your ‘plus one’ year to start a new postgraduate course or extend your funding for it, provided you have not previously graduated with a postgraduate qualification.

When can I apply for a Scottish postgraduate loan?

You can apply for a loan online now.

Do I have to reapply for a loan in subsequent years of my course?

You must make a new application for your tuition fee loan in each year of your course; you only need to apply once for your living-cost loan.

Can I use my existing student finance account?

If you already have an account with SAAS you must use this when you apply for a postgraduate loan. If you have another UK student finance account you should check that you are applying to the right provider. It may be necessary to apply for your Scottish loan by post. Contact SAAS to confirm this.

When do repayments begin for Scottish postgraduate loans?

You will begin repaying your Scottish postgraduate loan from 6 April in the year after you graduate, provided you are earning more than £18,300 a year.

Can the repayment terms change?

The format for your repayments will stay the same (they will be income-contingent, with interest linked to a measure of inflation). However, the exact threshold and interest rates can change as follows:

  • Your repayment threshold will normally rise each year with inflation
  • Your interest rate is also linked to inflation and may rise or fall accordingly

We aim to keep this page updated with any changes, but you should always confirm the current details with SAAS before applying for a loan.

Got another question?

We want this guide to be as complete as possible. If you can’t find the answer to your question here let us know – we’ll try to find out the answer and add it to the FAQ.

You can also find more postgraduate loan information on the SAAS website.


Last updated - 08/06/2018

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