If you’re thinking of starting a master's course, you could be eligible for a loan from the UK Government of up to £10,609 to help with course fees and living costs.
In 2020/21, students who are unable to travel to the UK due to COVID-19 will still be eligible for student finance, even if they’re studying online from abroad. This exception has only been put in place due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19, you should travel to the UK to attend your course once it is safe to do so.
- You can apply for this new postgraduate loan now.
- You can use it however you like – either towards your tuition fees, living costs, or other costs associated with your postgraduate study.
- The loan is not means tested.
- It will be paid directly into your bank account in three instalments during the academic year.
- If your course is longer than one year, the loan will be divided equally across each year of your course.
- If you study part-time, you can only get payments in the first two years of your course.
- You’ll repay the loan once you’ve finished or left your course, and are earning over £21,000.
You will be eligible for this loan if you:
- are a British citizen, or have been ordinarily resident in England for three years on the first day of your course
- are under 60 years of age on the first day of your course
- are studying a taught or research master’s course
- don't already have a postgraduate master's qualification, or another higher level qualification, such as a PhD
You may also be eligible for this loan if you are:
- an EU national, but don’t currently live in the UK
- a refugee, or a relative of one
- under Humanitarian Protection, or a relative of someone who is
- an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one
- the child of a Swiss national
- the child of a Turkish worker
Having a loan or loans from a previous undergraduate course will not affect your eligibility for a postgraduate loan.
Which courses are eligible?
The course must be in the UK and must lead to a master's qualification. You can study either at the course provider, or by distance learning. Postgraduate loans are not available for postgraduate level courses such as PgCert, PgDip, or where the course is funded by undergraduate student finance, such as Initial Teacher Training (ITET).
If you're not sure the course you're interested in is eligible for the loan, check with the course provider directly.
If you're studying full-time, your course can last for one or two years. If you're studying part-time, your course can last for up to two years for the equivalent of a one year full-time course, up to four years for the equivalent of a two year full-time course, or up to three years where there's no equivalent full-time course.
You can apply at www.gov.uk/postgraduateloan now. You should apply as early as possible to make sure your loan is ready for the start of your course. As with applying for undergraduate student finance, you don't need a confirmed place in order to apply.
Before you apply, make sure you've got the following to hand:
- valid UK passport (if you have one)
- course provider and course details
- bank account details
- National Insurance number – if you don't have one, you might need to provide proof that you are actively trying to obtain one
You don't need to complete your loan application all in one go – you can save your progress and go back at any time to complete it.
Remember to print your student declaration form, sign, and return it. If you're asked to provide any evidence or supporting documentation, send it as quickly as possible to avoid delays with your application.
If your personal details, course, or course provider change, let Student Finance England know before the start of your course – find out how to do this by signing in to your account at www.gov.uk/postgraduateloan.
Once your application is complete, Student Finance England will assess it and send you an entitlement letter, confirming how much you'll get. They will also send you a payment schedule to let you know when you'll be paid. You will have to register at your course provider and start your course before the first payment can be made.
If you're studying full-time, you'll start repaying your loan the April after you finish or leave your course. If you're studying part-time, you'll start making repayments the April two years after the start of your course, or the April after you finish or leave your course, whichever comes first. No repayments will be taken before April 2019.
You will only make repayments once your income is over £21,000 a year (£1,750 a month, or £404 a week), and you'll repay 6% of your income over £21,000. Interest on your loan is charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3% from the day of your first payment, until your loan is fully repaid.
Your repayments will be made to the Student Loans Company (SLC), and will be collected through the UK tax system, either:
- through PAYE, where repayments are collected by your employer in the same way as income tax and National Insurance, or
- through Self Assessment if you are self-employed
At the end of the tax year, you'll receive a statement letting you know how much of your loan you've repaid. HMRC will let your employer know when to stop taking repayments from your salary.
If you're planning to work or travel abroad for more than three months after you finish or leave your course, you need to let Student Finance England know so they can arrange for you to make repayments.
Any loan remaining 30 years after you're due to start making repayments will be written off.
Support for disabled students
If you are also applying for a Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), you will need to complete a DSA1 application form, and provide supporting evidence. Student Finance England will send you the form if you specify on your main loan application that you want to apply for a DSA. You can also download the form from www.gov.uk/postgraduateloan. It can take up to 14 weeks to process a DSA application, so make sure you send your application as soon as possible.