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2021 Postgraduate Funding in Wales: Masters Loans and Grants

Masters students in Wales can claim up to £17,489 in postgraduate funding through a combination of loans and grants. The funding is provided by Student Finance Wales on behalf of the Student Loans Company. You start to repay it once you graduate and earn over £21,000 a year.


Coronavirus information: Student Finance Wales has opened postgraduate funding applications as normal this year. See our FAQ for general information about coronavirus and postgraduate study.


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Welsh Masters funding - at a glance
Overview: Student loans and grants for full-time, part-time and distance learning Masters degrees in all subjects (taught or research).
Value: Up to £17,489.
Eligibility: UK nationals resident in Wales / people with EU settled status or indefinite leave to remain, resident in Wales.
Location: Any UK university.
Repayment: 6% of annual income over £21,000. Interest at RPI+3%.
Application: Now open for 2020-21 courses (applications for the 2021-22 academic year will open in summer 2021).

Amount

If you’re beginning a Masters in the 2020-21 academic year, you could receive up to £17,489 towards your tuition fees and living costs. This amount is likely to change for 2021-22 programmes, but the exact figures haven’t been announced yet. If you sign up to our newsletter, we’ll keep you up-to-date.

The funding combines a non-means-tested loan and a means-tested grant. The size of the grant you get depends on your household income – the remainder of the £17,489 will consist of a postgraduate loan from Student Finance Wales.

Here are two examples from opposite ends of the spectrum:

  • If your household income is £18,370 or less, you’ll get the maximum grant of £6,885 and a loan of up to £10,604
  • If your household income is £59,200 or more, you’ll get the minimum grant of £1,000 and a loan of up to £16,489

If your household income falls between these two examples, the size of the Welsh Masters grant you receive will be based on a sliding scale. The table below illustrates some typical amounts.

Postgraduate funding amounts
Income Grant Loan Total
£20,000 £6,651 £10,838 £17,489
£30,000 £5,209 £12,280 £17,489
£40,000 £3,767 £13,722 £17,489
£50,000 £2,326 £15,163 £17,489
£59,200 or more £1,000 £16,489 £17,489

If you don’t want your household income to be taken into account, you can choose to receive the £1,000 grant and the postgraduate loan of up to £16,489.

You can also choose how much of the postgraduate loan you’d like to request, as long as your total amount of funding (including the grant) is not more than £17,489.

How is household income calculated?

If you’re supported by your parents or a partner, you’ll be treated as a dependent student. This means that the income – both earned and unearned – of your parents / partner will be taken into account when calculating your household income.

You’ll also need to supply details of your own unearned income (this includes interest on savings and earnings from property). It doesn’t include any salary that you’ve earned through full or part-time work.

If you aren’t supported by your parents or a partner, you’ll be treated as an independent student and your household income will only include your unearned income (and not any income you’ve earned through full or part-time work).

These are some of the circumstances in which you’ll be treated as an independent student, not taking your parents’ / partner’s income into account:

  • You’ve supported yourself financially for at least three years
  • You’re 25 or over on the first day of the academic year of your Masters
  • You’re caring for someone who is under 18
  • You’re estranged from your parents

Whether you’re a dependent or independent student, your household income will determine how much of the means-tested grant you receive.

It’s worth bearing in mind that any of your own income from full-time or part-time work will never form part of your household income, no matter what your status is as a dependent or independent student.

How will I be paid?

The money is paid to you (not your university) in regular instalments during your course. It’s up to you to use it for tuition fees and living costs, as necessary.

You decide how much you want to borrow through the loan element of the funding (up to the maximum of £17,489, including the grant). This money is divided evenly across your course and paid in three instalments per academic year.

You’ll receive 33% of your annual funding on or near your programme start date (once your university confirms your registration), then two more payments of 33% and 34% over the course of the academic year.

The value of each instalment depends on how much loan you request, how much grant you’re eligible for and how long your course is.

The following table shows approximate instalments for students studying a one-year Masters with a household income of £30,000 who take the full funding amount of £17,489:

Postgraduate funding payments
Loan Grant
Payment 1 £4,052 £1,719
Payment 2 £4,052 £1,719
Payment 3 £4,176 £1,771
Total £12,280 £5,209
All values rounded to the nearest £1

If your Masters is longer than one year, your postgraduate funding will be divided across each year of the course. The table below shows the size of the payments you’d receive on a longer programme, assuming that you claimed the full £17,489 through the loan and grant.

Course length 2 years 3 years 4 years
Annual amount £8,745 £5,830 £4,372
Payment 1 £2,886 £1,924 £1,443
Payment 2 £2,886 £1,924 £1,443
Payment 3 £2,973 £1,982 £1,486
All values rounded to the nearest £1

Frequently asked questions

If you still have some questions about how postgraduate funding in Wales works, we've answered a few FAQs below.

Do I have to borrow the full amount?

Postgraduate loans in Wales allow you to borrow anything between £1 and £16,489, depending on the size of the grant that you receive.

Is the value of Welsh postgraduate funding linked to course fees?

No. You can receive up to £17,489 regardless of your Masters fees.

What if my course costs more than £17,489?

Postgraduate funding in Wales is offered as a ‘contribution to costs’. This means it should help you study a postgraduate degree, but it’s not guaranteed to cover everything. The cost of a Masters varies across the UK and you’ll also need to factor in living expenses.

What if my course costs less than £17,489?

You can still request the maximum amount (if you like) and use the remainder to help pay for accommodation and living costs.

Is Welsh postgraduate funding available for maintenance?

You can use your funding for living costs as well as (or instead of) tuition fees. However, there isn’t a separate postgraduate maintenance system in Wales.

Can I change my postgraduate loan amount?

Yes. You can the amount of loan you’ve requested by submitting a postgraduate Master’s loan request form. You’ll need to send this by post before nine months from the beginning of the final year of your course.

Why is postgraduate funding in Wales worth more than elsewhere?

Each part of the UK is responsible for its own student finance. Loans are also available in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, but Wales has decided to offer the largest amount of support for Masters students.

What additional funding can I get to study a Masters in Wales?

In 2018-19, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) provided additional funding for Masters study. It was allocated to individual universities to use for fee waivers, bursaries or other support worth roughly £3,400 or more per student.

However, this support is no longer available, having been replaced by the new postgraduate finance system of increased grants and loans.

Can I receive Welsh postgraduate funding as well as Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)?

Yes. Welsh Masters loans are separate from postgraduate DSA and you can have both.

Can I combine Welsh postgraduate funding with other Masters support?

You can’t combine Welsh postgraduate funding with additional support from a public source such as an NHS or Social Work bursary. However, you can have funding alongside:

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

When will I receive my first payment?

The first instalment of your Welsh postgraduate funding will normally be paid into your UK bank account soon after your university confirms your attendance on the course.


Eligibility

Postgraduate funding in Wales is available to UK students who have lived in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the past three years and are ordinarily resident in Wales (not just living there to go to university).

In addition, you’ll need to:

  • Be aged under 60 (59 or younger) on the first day of the first academic year of your course (this will normally be 1 September for courses beginning in the Autumn)
  • Not hold a Masters degree (or higher qualification) regardless of how it was funded

Finally, you’ll need to be studying an eligible Masters degree.

Funding sometimes be available to international students if one of the following criteria applies:

  • You are an Irish national
  • You have EU settled status in the UK
  • You are the child of a Turkish worker
  • You or a family member have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK

It’s best to check with Student Finance Wales if you think you may qualify for funding as a non-EU national, but aren’t sure.

You won’t normally be eligible for Welsh Masters funding if you’re a UK student who normally lives in another part of the UK. However, separate postgraduate loans are available for students from Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.

Brexit and eligibility for Welsh postgraduate funding

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national beginning a Masters in Wales from August 2021 onwards, you will only be eligible for postgraduate funding if you have EU 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 Welsh 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.

Frequently asked questions

We've answered some frequently asked questions about eligibility for funding from Student Finance Wales.

Will my credit history be checked?

No. Your credit score won’t affect your loan or grant. However, you won’t be able to apply if you are in arrears to the Student Loans Company (for repayments you should have made on another loan) or if you have been found guilty of fraud.

Can I have a second postgraduate loan?

You can’t apply if you’ve already had another UK postgraduate loan (including a previous Welsh Masters loan). The only exception applies to a course you were forced to exit because of compelling personal reasons (such as a serious illness or a bereavement).

How does the age limit work?

Postgraduate funding in Wales is 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:


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

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.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding if I already have a Masters?

No. Postgraduate funding in Wales is only available to students who don’t already have a Masters degree (or higher level qualification).

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding if I already have a PGCert, PGDip or PGCE?

Yes. You can apply for funding to study a Masters if you already have a shorter qualification such as a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education.

However, you can’t get funding to ‘top up’ these qualifications to a full Masters.

Can I get Welsh funding for a Masters if I already have a PhD?

No. You can’t get funding from Student Finance Wales for a Masters if you already have a qualification above that level.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding if I’ve started a Masters but didn’t complete it?

Yes. Provided you didn’t graduate with your Masters and you didn’t have a postgraduate loan for it.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding if I have an integrated Masters?

No. An integrated Masters (studied as part of an undergraduate degree) still counts as an existing qualification. You won’t be able to receive funding for a second postgraduate Masters.

What counts as being ‘ordinarily resident’ in Wales?

To be classed as ‘ordinarily resident in Wales’ you must live there normally when you aren’t at university. This normally means that one or all of the following will be true:

  • You lived in Wales before you went to university
  • You received an undergraduate loan from Student Finance Wales
  • You have lived and worked in Wales since the end of your undergraduate degree

If you’re a UK student, but aren’t ordinarily resident in Wales you should apply for a different postgraduate loan.

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

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

What if I have moved to Wales 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.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding if I’ve lived outside the UK in the last three years?

In order to apply for funding as a UK student you must have lived in the UK for three years prior to your course. You can travel for holidays, study abroad or have other periods of ‘temporary absence’ from the UK during this period, but you shouldn’t have become ordinarily resident in another country.

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.

Here’s an example of how that could work:

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

If you aren’t sure about your residency status, check with Student Finance Wales.

Are EU, EEA and Swiss students eligible for postgraduate funding in Wales?

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.

Are other international students eligible for postgraduate funding in Wales?

Students from countries outside the UK and Ireland aren’t normally eligible for postgraduate funding in Wales.

Exceptions may apply if you’re an EU national with EU 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.

If you think an exception may apply in your case you should contact Student Finance Wales. Information on UK fees and funding for international students is also available from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).


Courses

Welsh postgraduate funding is available for taught and research Masters degrees in all subjects, provided they meet the following criteria:

  • Your course must award a Masters, not a shorter Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma or a doctorate (such as a PhD)
  • Your course must be a postgraduate programme, not an integrated Masters or other undergraduate course
  • Your course must be for a full 180 credit degree, not a short period of study to ‘top up’ an existing qualification to Masters level

Courses can be studied full time, part time or by distance learning:

  • Full-time courses can last for 1-2 years
  • Part-time courses can last for 2-4 years, but not for more than twice the length of an equivalent full-time course (or three years if no full-time equivalent exists)
  • Distance learning courses can be full time or part time, but you must be living in Wales on the first day of your course and the rest of your Masters must be studied from within the UK (UK-resident students) or Wales (EU students)

UK-resident students can study at any UK university, but Irish students coming to the UK for their degree can only use Welsh postgraduate funding to study in Wales.

Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to several FAQs about course eligibility.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding for an MRes or MPhil?

Yes. Postgraduate funding in Wales is available for taught and research degrees, including Master of Research (MRes) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) programmes.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding for an MBA?

Yes. Postgraduate funding in Wales is available for Master of Business Administration (MBA) programmes. However, you should bear in mind that the fees for some MBAs will be higher than the maximum £17,000 you can receive through postgraduate funding in Wales.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding for an LLM?

Yes. Postgraduate funding in Wales is available for Master of Laws (LLM) programmes.

However, you can’t receive funding for a shorter Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) unless it is awarded as part of a full Masters degree.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding for an integrated Masters?

No. But you can apply for undergraduate student finance for one of these courses.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding for a Master of Architecture (MArch?)

Only if the course is delivered part time. Full-time MArch degrees are covered by undergraduate student finance.

Can I get Welsh postgraduate funding for a PGCert, PGDip or PGCE?

No. Postgraduate funding in Wales is only available for full 180 credit Masters degrees.

Where can I study?

UK-resident students can study anywhere in the UK (Welsh Masters funding is ‘portable’). EU students can only use Welsh postgraduate funding to study in Wales.

Can I get a loan for a PhD?

Yes. Wales offers separate doctoral loans for PhDs and other doctorates. These loans aren’t means-tested and you won’t receive a grant for studying a PhD, however.


Applications

Applications for Welsh postgraduate finance are now open for Masters beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.

The quickest way to apply is online via your Student Finance Wales account, although it’s also possible to apply via post.

You’ll need to provide details of your identity and the course you plan to study, plus your National Insurance number (if you have one). You’ll also need to have a UK bank account.

If you’re applying for the means-tested element of the Masters funding, your parents or partner will need to submit an Assessment of Financial Circumstances Form (PGPFF) with details of your household income. This form can be downloaded from your Student Finance Wales account once you’ve submitted the rest of the application.

If you’re an independent student, you’ll be asked to supply your expected taxable unearned income for the academic year that you’ll begin your course in. This includes things like interest on savings and income from property, but doesn’t include any earnings from full-time or part-time work.

If you already have an account with Student Finance Wales you should use it for your postgraduate funding application.

The deadline for applying is quite relaxed: you must submit your application no later than nine months from the beginning of your final year.

This will normally be:

Postgraduate funding application deadlines
Course begins Deadline
1st August to 31st December Nine months from 1st September
1st January to 31st March Nine months from 1st January
1st April to 30th June Nine months from 1st April
1st July to 31st July Nine months from 1st July

You only need to apply once for a postgraduate funding but you can change the amount you wish to borrow later in your course.

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

Frequently asked questions

These are a couple of FAQs concerning the application process for postgraduate funding in Wales.

When can I apply for Welsh postgraduate funding?

Applications for the 2020-21 academic year are now open.

You will be able to apply online or by post (PDF).

Can I use my existing student finance account?

If you already have an account with Student Finance Wales (for your undergraduate loan) you must use this to apply for postgraduate funding. If you have an account with another UK student finance provider you may need to submit a postal application for your Welsh postgraduate funding.

Repayments

Your repayments will begin in the April after you finish your programme, provided you’ve graduated (or left your course).

The amount you repay is linked to your income: you’ll only repay 6% of what you earn over £21,000 a year (£1,750 a month).

How you repay depends on your employment circumstances:

  • If you are employed in the UK, your repayments will be taken automatically from your salary by HMRC (at the same time as your income tax and national insurance)
  • If you are self-employed in the UK, HMRC will collect your repayments as part of your annual tax return
  • If you work outside the UK you will need to contact the Student Loans Company to arrange your repayments
  • If you are unemployed you won’t need to make repayments

If you also have an undergraduate loan you will make two concurrent repayments as follows:

  • 6% of earnings over £21,000 a year for your postgraduate student loan
  • 9% of earnings over £25,000 a year for your undergraduate student loan

You will also pay interest on your postgraduate loan and this will begin accumulating from the date of your first payment. The rate is linked to inflation using the Retail Prices Index (RPI) and changes each year. It is currently 5.6% but this changes every September.

Any remaining loan (including interest) will be written off 30 years after you become eligible to make repayments.

Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about repaying a Welsh postgraduate loan.

When do repayments begin for Welsh postgraduate loans?

Repayments normally begin in the April after your course ends (provided you are earning over £21,000 a year).

Is the repayment threshold rising?

No, unlike undergraduate loans, the repayment threshold for English and Welsh postgraduate loans does not currently rise with inflation.

Is the interest rate linked to income?

No. The interest rate for a Welsh postgraduate loan is the same regardless of how much you earn.

Repayment guides

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

More information

Got a more specific question about postgraduate funding in Wales, or looking for something you can’t find on the page?

We’re always adding to our guides based on information from the Student Loans Company and feedback from students at our postgraduate study events. If we haven’t answered your question, get in touch with us by emailing editor[at]findamasters.com and we’ll do our best to help.


Last updated 06/01/2020

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