Postgraduate loans

Loan information for postgraduate students.

About the loan

Postgraduate loans (PGLs) are available from Student Finance England to study a master's course. Master's students under 60 can access a loan of up to £11,222 in total to contribute towards tuition fees or living expenses.

It's important to be aware that the loan won't be enough to cover both the costs of tuition fees and living expenses, so you'll need to have additional funding or money to fund these costs. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own equivalent schemes.

These loans are intended for English students. However, eligibility for postgraduate loans is based on English-residency, not English-nationality. If you're Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, but normally live in England not just for the purpose of study, you'll be able to receive a loan. If you have moved to England solely for the purposes of studying a master's, you won't be eligible for a loan.

In order to be eligible you must have been ordinarily resident in England recently and in the UK for at least three years on the first day of the academic year in which your course begins.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own equivalent postgraduate loan schemes for students that want to study in the UK. Further details are available on the following websites:

The PGL is £11,222 for the whole course. You can apply for less than the maximum and there is no minimum loan request amount. You can increase the amount of loan requested up to one month before the end of the academic year.

Your eligibility

Eligible students must be:

  • under 60 on 1 September 2020
  • without a master's or PhD qualification
  • not in arrears on undergraduate loans or found to be 'unfit' for student support.

Residency requirements

The loan is administered by Student Finance England, so entitlement is restricted to either UK students living in England or EU students and their family members living in the European Economic Area (EEA).

UK students

  • You must have been a resident in the UK for three years before the start of the course.


  • most recently been ordinarily resident in England. If you have moved to England solely for the purposes of studying a master's, you won't be eligible for a loan.

Individuals may be eligible if they have a residency status of refugee, humanitarian protection, EEA or Swiss migrant worker, a family member of any of these categories, a child or a Swiss national or a child of a Turkish worker. For more information on these categories, visit the UKCISA website.

English-resident UK students can study anywhere in the UK.

EU students

If you're an EU national or the family member of an EU national, you must have been a resident in the EEA for three years before the start of the course. You must study in England to be entitled to this loan.

Most EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals starting courses on or after 1 August 2021 will not be eligible for support from Student Finance England.

Students whose courses start before 1 August 2021 will continue to get student finance for the rest of their course.

If you already have a postgraduate qualification

If your qualification is at a lower level than a master's (so for example, a PG cert, LPC or PGDip) you'll be eligible for the PGL as long as you register on a full master's course and don't apply for Prior Certificated Learning or Accredited Learning.

If you have a master's or PhD qualification from anywhere in the world, you won't be entitled to the PGL.

As long as you have not achieved a qualification at master's or PhD level, you'll still be entitled.

Changing courses or repeating a year

As long as you're transferring to another eligible master's course, any PGL you have outstanding will transfer with you.

PGLs aren't available for a repeat year. If, however, you withdraw from your master's course due to compelling personal reasons without achieving a master's award, you may be able to get a second PGL if you start a new master's course in future.

Eligible courses

The course must be a standalone master's course starting in 2020/21 or later. This can be a taught or research master's (MRes). You must register for the full 180 credits in order to receive the loan. Prior Certificated or Accredited learning cannot be used to reduce the number of credits taken.

The course must be:

  • a full-time course lasting one or two academic years
  • a part-time course lasting two academic years which has a one-year full-time equivalent course
  • a part-time course lasting three or four academic years which has a two-year full-time equivalent course
  • a part-time course lasting up to three years which has no full-time equivalent course
  • if the course is studied as a distance-learning course, you must be a student residing in England
  • not an integrated master's such as MEng or MPlan, and funded as part of an undergraduate course.

View a list of eligible courses (PDF) for the 2020/21 academic year.

Postgraduate research courses

You can apply for a loan to study a research course provided it awards a master's degree and doesn't last longer than two years full time. This may potentially include some MPhil courses, but won't cover PhD degrees.

Courses which aren't eligible for the PGL

  • Postgraduate Certificates (PG Cert) such as PGCEs
  • Postgraduate Diplomas (PGDip)
  • PhDs are excluded but are available under the following Postgraduate Doctoral Loans (PGDLs) scheme for students from England and Wales.


If you're studying an MPhil as part of a standalone qualification you should be eligible for a £11,222 master's loan.

If you're only registering for an MPhil in the initial stage of a PhD course, you won't qualify for the master's loan. You should be eligible for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loans (PGDLs) instead.


Postgraduate Doctoral Loans (PGDLs) are available from Student Finance England and Wales if you wish to study a PhD course. PhD students under 60 can access a loan of up to £26,445 in total for PhD courses lasting between three to eight years. The loan is spread evenly over each year of the course.

The PhD loans work in the same way as the postgraduate loans outlined above. It's important to be aware that it won't cover the costs of both tuition fees and living expenses, so you'll need additional funding to cover those costs.

You can find out more by reading the government's PhD loan information.


Applications are open now for the 2020/21 academic year. The quickest and easiest way to apply will be via the government's master's loans web pages. You don't need to have accepted a place on a course to apply, and can update the course and university details later if you need to.


If you're a UK student you can provide your valid UK passport details to confirm your identify, and won't need to send any documents to SFE. So for most students the application process should be quick and easy.

You'll need to provide an address history for the last three years and your National Insurance number (unless you're an EU national).

Next steps

Make sure that you download, print, sign and send the declaration form back to SFE. This will be available once you've completed your application.

Once SFE have assessed the application, they will send you a letter confirming how much postgraduate loan you'll get and the payment dates.


The Student Loans Company will pay the loan in instalments into your bank account. You can choose to use the money for tuition fees and/or living expenses.

How the loan is paid will depend on how long your course lasts and whether you're studying part time or full time.

One-year course

The PGL of £11,222 is paid in three instalments (33%, 33% and 34%).

  • The first instalment will be paid shortly after the start of the first term when UWE Bristol has confirmed your registration on the course.
  • The second and third instalment will be paid on the last Wednesday of the fourth and seventh month after course start (eg September, January, April for September starters).

18-month course

If your full-time course is longer than 12 months, you'll receive £5,611 in three instalments (as above timetable) for two academic years. This means that you may receive instalments after you have completed your course.

Part-time courses

You must complete your master's within four years.

The PGL will be paid across all years of the course. The total loan of up to £11,222 will be divided equally over the number of years you study and paid in three equal instalments (as in the above timetable) in each year.


  • The postgraduate loan is to be repaid concurrently with undergraduate loans.
  • The repayment rate will be 6% of income above £21,000 per year. The repayment rate on undergraduate loans is 9% of income above £25,725 per year.
  • The interest rate will be inflation rate (or Retail Price index) + 3%. Inflation is currently 3.3%.
  • Repayments are due from the April after you complete your course.
  • Any balance outstanding after 30 years will be written off.

Below is a table that models the concurrent repayment of undergraduate and postgraduate loans linked to the level of your post-study earnings.

If you have student loans from your undergraduate study, you'll need to add the monthly repayments together to work out your total loan repayments. The amount you repay on your undergraduate loans will depend on whether you started your course prior to September 2012 or after.

Gross taxable income Net monthly wage Monthly repayments loans post-2012 Monthly repayments PG loans Monthly repayments UG loans pre-2012
£20,000 £1,415 0 0 £12.50
£26,000 £1,755 £2.06 £25 £57.50
£31,000 £2,038 £39.56 £50 £95
£36,000 £2,321 £77.06 £75 £132.50
£41,000 £2,605 £114.56 £100 £170
£46,000 £2,888 £152.06 £124 £207.52
£56,000 £3,294 £227.00 £175 £282.50

Further information