Postgraduate loans

Loan and student finance postgraduate funding information for postgraduate students ordinarily resident in England or Wales.

Loan details

England

Postgraduate loans (PGLs) are available from Student Finance England to study a master's course. If you are a master's student under 60 you can access a loan of up to £11,570 in total to contribute towards your tuition fees or living expenses.

Wales

Finance is available from Student Finance Wales to study a master's course. If you are a master's student under 60 you can access finance made up of grant and loan (based on household income) of up to £18,025 in total to contribute towards your tuition fees and/or living costs.

England and Wales

It's important to be aware that the master's finance may not 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.

The PGL of £11,570 from Student Finance England/postgraduate finance of £18,025 from Student Finance Wales is for your whole course. You can apply for less than the maximum and you can increase the amount of loan requested up to one month before the end of the academic year.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

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

Your eligibility

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

Eligible students must be:

  • under 60 on 1 September 2021
  • without a master's or PhD qualification
  • not in arrears on undergraduate loans or found to be 'unfit' for student support.

Residency requirements

You need to meet certain residency criteria to qualify for PGL from Student Finance England/postgraduate finance from Student Finance Wales, which are:

  • you're a UK national, or have settled status (no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK), and
  • you normally live in England (or Wales), and did not move there just to study, and
  • you’ve been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years before starting your course.

Individuals may be eligible if they have a residency status of refugee, humanitarian protection, EU settled or pre-settled status. For more information on these categories, visit the UKCISA website

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/postgraduate finance you have outstanding will transfer with you.

PGL/postgraduate finance isn'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/postgraduate finance if you start a new master's course in future.

Eligible courses

The course must be a standalone master's course starting in 2021/22 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. The list of eligible courses for the 2021/22 academic year will be added soon.

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.

MPhils

If you're studying an MPhil as part of a standalone qualification you should be eligible for a £11,570 postgraduate master's loan/£18,025 postgraduate master's finance.

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.

PhDs

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 £27,265 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.

Applying

You should apply to the funding body for where you usually reside rather than your nationality. If you're Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, but normally live in England not just for the purpose of study, you should apply to Student Finance England. If you have moved to England solely for the purposes of studying a master's, you should apply to your home funding body.

Applications for the 2021-22 academic year will open in summer 2021. The quickest and easiest way to apply will be online. Visit Student Finance England or Student Finance Wales for more information. 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. 

Evidence

If you're a UK student you can provide your valid UK passport details to confirm your identity, and won't need to send any documents. 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.

Next steps

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

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

Payment

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/finance 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/finance 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 £5,785 Student Finance England (£9,012 from Student Finance Wales) in three instalments (as in the 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/finance will be paid across all years of the course. The £11,570 (Student Finance England) or £18,025 (Student Finance Wales) 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.

Repayment

  • 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 £27,295 per year.
  • The interest rate will be inflation rate (or Retail Price index) + 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
9% over £27,295
Monthly repayments PG loans
6% over £21,000
£20,000 £1,439 0 0
£26,000 £1,779 £0 £25
£31,000 £2,062 £28 £50
£36,000 £2,345 £66 £75
£41,000 £2,629 £103 £100
£46,000 £2,912 £141 £125
£56,000 £3,431 £216 £175

Further information

Please visit the following websites for more information: