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Welsh postgraduate loans

Postgraduate Loans in Wales

Wales now offers loans of up to £10,280 for Welsh-resident students to study a taught or research Masters anywhere in the UK. Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland may also be eligible for a loan to study in Wales.

Welsh postgraduate loans are available for students beginning postgraduate study in the 2017-18 academic year. From 2018-19 it will be replaced by a new loan system offering up to £13,000 for courses at UK universities, plus an additional £4,000 for Welsh-resident students studying a Masters in Wales.

This page offers a quick summary of the current Welsh Masters loans, plus a detailed FAQ offering more information and details of future changes.



Welsh postgraduate loans at a glance

The following table provides a simple overview of postgraduate loans in Wales:


Welsh postgraduate loans at a glance
Overview: Student loans for taught and research Masters degrees.
Value: Up to £10,280 in 2017-18, rising to £13,000 or more for 2018-19.
Eligibility: UK students ordinarily resident in Wales. EU nationals resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
Location: Any UK university.
Repayment: 6% of income over £21,000. Interest at RPI+3%.
Applications: Now open, via Student Finance Wales.

Loan amounts for 2017-18

The current Welsh postgraduate loans are similar to those offered in England. You may borrow up to £10,280 towards your Masters.

This does not guarantee that a loan will cover the full cost of studying a postgraduate course. But it does mean that the money will be paid directly to you, to use as you see fit.

Do I have to borrow the full amount?

No. You can borrow anything up to £10,280. You cannot borrow more than this, but you can request less.

What if the loan doesn't cover the full cost of my Masters?

The average cost of a UK Masters is between £6,000 and £8,000. However, this varies significantly across subject areas. Some courses, such as MBAs, may be much more expensive.

This means that a Welsh postgraduate loan will cover tuition fees for some courses, but not all. If your course is more expensive you will have to supplement your loan with additional funding or other resources.

You may also need additional money for accommodation and living costs.

Who provides this loan?

Money will be provided to you by the Student Loans Company on behalf of the Welsh Government. Your payments and application will be managed by Student Finance Wales.

Can I apply if I already have an undergraduate loan?

Yes. The Welsh postgraduate loan is entirely separate from your undergraduate loan. You do not need to have paid off existing student loans before you apply. However, you must not owe any missed payments to the Student Loans Company (see below).

Are the loans means-tested?

No. Your financial circumstances do not affect your eligibility for support and no credit check will be required when you apply.

The only exception concerns arrears to the Student Loans Company. If you have missed repayments you should have made on an undergraduate loan, you may need to rectify this before borrowing more money as a postgraduate.

How is the loan paid?

You will receive payments directly to your UK bank account. You are then responsible for using them to cover tuition fees or other expenses during your course.

Your total loan will be divided evenly each year of your course. These annual portions will then be paid to you in three almost equal instalments per year. Dates for instalments are as follows:

  • Instalment one (33% of annual amount) - month 1 of course.
  • Instalment two (33% of annual amount) - month 4 of course.
  • Instalment three (34% of annual amount) - month 7 of course.

Payments will only be made so long as you are registered at your university and proceeding with your Masters.

When can I apply?

Now! Applications for 2017-18 Welsh postgraduate loans opened in June 2017. For more advice, you can read our guide to applying for a postgraduate loan (and confirm which UK scheme you should apply for).

Search for a Masters in the UK

Will Welsh postgraduate funding help you pursue a Masters? Browse and compare Masters degrees in the UK on FindAMasters.com

Student eligibility in 2017

Eligibility for Welsh postgraduate loans is based on age and residency.

In order to apply as a UK student you must be ordinarily resident in Wales and aged under 60 when you begin your course. Slightly different terms exist for EU students in 2017-18.

What counts as being ordinarily resident in Wales?

You will need to have been living in the UK for at least three years and to have a home address in Wales before you begin your Masters.

Note that you do not necessarily need to live and study in Wales during your Masters: the loans are 'portable' across the UK.

Will undergraduate study affect my residency status?

Periods of time studying in another part of the UK will not count against your residency.

By the same token, however, periods of time studying in Wales will not make you 'ordinarily resident' in Wales if you have moved from elsewhere in the UK.

Student residence and ordinary residence are essentally separate.

What if I have travelled outside the UK during the last three years?

Short periods of travel or study outside the UK won't normally affect your loan eligibility: these will be considered temporary. Longer periods of residence and permanent employment abroad may be an issue.

You should discuss your circumstances with Student Finance Wales if you think overseas residency may affect your eligibility.

Can other UK students receive funding to study a Masters in Wales?

Yes, but you may not be eligible for Wales's own postgraduate grants and loans. Instead you will need to apply for a postgraduate loan from your own country. All of these schemes are potentially 'portable', allowing students to study at universities across the UK.

What if I already have a Masters?

Unfortunately, loans are not available to study a second Masters degree. This also applies to students with PhDs or other qualifications above Masters level.

What about EU students?

In order to be eligible for a Welsh postgraduate loan as an EU student you must be ordinarily resident in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and be coming to study your Masters in Wales, at a Welsh university.

If you are already ordinarily resident in Wales you may be able to apply for a 'portable' loan to study a Masters in other parts of the UK.

Will Brexit affect EU eligibility?

All parts of the UK (including Wales) have confirmed that EU students will be eligible for postgraduate funding if they begin a course in 2017-18 or 2018-19. This support will last for the duration of your course and will not be affected by Brexit.

Course eligibility in 2017

Welsh postgraduate loans are provided for taught and research Masters degrees across the UK. Courses can last up to two years full time or four years part time, with distance learning options also available.

Are all Masters degrees eligible?

Almost all UK Masters degrees will be eligible for Welsh postgraduate loans, with some restrictions:

  • Your course must be a postgraduate programme. This means it cannot be an integrated Masters degree or other qualification that begins at undergraduate level.
  • Your course must be a Masters. This means it is a level 7 qualification, usually worth 180 credits.
  • Your course must be a full degree. This means you cannot take out a loan for part of a Masters, or to 'top up' an existing postgraduate qualification below Masters level.

No restrictions apply to subject areas or course content: you can study a taught, research or professional Masters in any specialism.

Are PGCert (Postgraduate Certificate) or PGDip (Postgraduate Diplomas) eligible?

No. You must be studying a Masters. Shorter qualifications below this level are not eligible for loans. However, you can receive a loan to study a separate Masters if you already hold a PGCert or PGDip.

Where can I study?

Loans are fully portable across the UK. Students who are ordinarily resident in Wales are able to receive support to study at universities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

Can I receive a loan to complete an ongoing Masters?

Unfortunately not. The loans are intended for new students. In order to to be eligible your course must begin on or after 1st August 2017.

How long can my Masters last?

Support is available for taught Masters degrees lasting up to two years full time or four years part time. Part-time students must study at 50% of the intensity of an equivalent full-time student.

Where there is no full-time equivalent, a part-time Masters may last for up to three years.

Can I study by distance learning?

Yes, but your course must be offered by a UK university and you must be resident in Wales whilst you study.

Are loans available for PhDs?

The Welsh postgraduate loans described on this page are only for Masters degrees. You can use one to study a research Masters, such as an MRes or MPhil. However, this must be the qualification you intend to exit with (you cannot receive a loan for a course that 'upgrades' to a PhD).

Wales is planning to introduce PhD loans for 2018-19 these are likely to be similar to the upcoming English doctoral loans, offering up to £25,000 for Welsh-resident students to complete a PhD in the UK. The exact details aren't finalised yet, but we'll update you when they are.

Repayments

You will repay your Welsh postgraduate loan on an income-contingent basis, concurrently with any undergraduate loans.

Repayment terms are expected to change slightly, following legislation. They are currently as follows:

  • Repayments will be made at 9% of earnings over £21,000 a year (equivalent to £1,750 a month). Following legislation this will be reduced to 6% of income over £21,000 a year.
  • Students will be eligible to make repayments (based on income) from the April after they finish studying their Masters.
  • Deductions will be made monthly along with income tax, national insurance and other student loan repayments.
  • Interest will accrue from your first loan payment. The rate will be set at RPI (the Retail Prices Index) +3%.
  • Any unpaid balance will be written off after 30 years.

Why are the repayment terms expected to change?

Wales wishes to offer its Masters degree finance with a lower repayment rate than that currently used for undergraduate loans. This will help students with more than one loan.

However, new repayment rates must be confirmed in Government legislation. Until this occurs, Welsh postgraduate loans will use the existing repayment rate for undergraduate degrees (9%).

Which repayment terms will apply to my loan?

You will make repayments according to the terms that are in place when you begin repayment (not when you apply for your loan, or begin your Masters).

Because loan repayments won't begin until April 2019 (the year after the first set of students complete their courses) it is likely that the repayment rate for your loan will already have changed to 6%.

Repaying your postgraduate loan

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

Applications

Applications for Welsh Masters loans in 2017 use a similar system to English postgraduate finance.

You can create an account and log-in to the online application service provided by Student Finance Wales. Alternatively, you can apply by post after downloading an application form.

For more advice (including a walkthrough and FAQs) see our guide to applying for a UK postgraduate loan.

Are other loans available?

Postgraduate loans will be available across the UK for Masters degrees and other courses beginning in 2017-18. The following table compares different options:


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 rose with inflation for 2017-18. It may rise again for students starting a Masters 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?

Wales has been reconsidering postgraduate funding for some time, as part of its ongoing Diamond Review of Higher Education. The postgraduate loans described on this page were the first result of this process, but further changes are planned.

The value of Welsh Masters loans will rise to £13,000 in 2018-19. These increased loans will be available to Welsh-resident students starting a Masters anywhere in the UK next year. In addition, the Welsh Government will provide up to £4,000 in additional funding for Welsh students studying at Welsh universities.

Wales also intendes to introduce PhD loans for Welsh students in 2018-19. These are expected to be similar to the doctoral loans being introduced in England next year.

Other postgraduate funding changes for Welsh students may also be introduced in future. You can stay informed via our regular newsletter.

Brexit will not affect EU students beginning a Masters in Wales in 2017-18 or 2018-19: existing fee and funding eligibility has been confirmed for the duration of students' courses.

Last updated - 20/10/2017

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