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Funding for your postgraduate studies
Whether studying for a Master's, a PhD or for a PGCE, there are funding options open to you...
From 2018/19 a Postgraduate Master's Loan of up to £10,609 (£10,280 for programmes starting in 2017) is available through Student Finance England as a contribution towards your course and living costs. If your course is longer than one year, the loan will be divided equally between the years. No payments will be made after this point. The loan will be paid into your bank account in three instalments (33%, 33% and 34%) during the academic year.
You can apply for 2018/19 from the Summer of 2018. More details here
Can I get a Postgraduate Loan?
Whether you qualify depends on:
- your course
- your age
- your nationality or residency status
You won’t be able to get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if:
- you’re already getting payments from student finance for another course that you’re studying
- you received a Postgraduate Master’s Loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or another serious personal reason
- you already have a master’s degree, or a qualification that’s equivalent or higher
- you’re behind in repayments for any previous loans from the Student Loans Company
You’ll still be eligible if you have a PGCE or a postgraduate diploma or certificate.
You won’t get extra money if you repeat a year of your course.
The course must:
- be a full, standalone master’s course (not a top-up course)
- be worth 180 credits - check the course provider’s website if you’re not sure
- have started on or after 1 August 2016
Your course must be provided by a university or college in the UK (including the Open University). The university or college must also be either:
- publicly funded
- a designated private provider - check with your provider if you’re not sure
If your course started in the 2016 to 2017 academic year, the private provider must have degree-awarding powers.
Your course can be taught or research-based.
It can be:
- full-time, lasting 1 or 2 academic years
- part-time, lasting 2 to 4 academic years - no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time course
- part-time for up to 3 years, where no equivalent full-time course exists
Examples of postgraduate master’s qualifications include:
- MSc (master of science)
- MA (master of arts)
- MPhil (master of philosophy)
- MRes (master of research)
- LLM (master of law)
- MLitt (master of letters)
- MFA (master of fine art)
- MEd (master of education)
- MBA (master of business administration)
You can’t get a loan for a postgraduate certificate or diploma.
To qualify for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan for distance learning, you’ll need to be living in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course. You’ll also need to live in:
- England for the whole of your course - if you’re an EU national
- the UK for the whole of your course - if you’re not an EU national
This usually doesn’t apply if you’re:
- serving in the armed forces
- a spouse or civil partner of a serving member of the armed forces
- a dependant parent living with a serving member of the armed forces
You won’t be eligible for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if your course is:
- integrated with an undergraduate degree - apply for undergraduate funding instead
- integrated with a doctoral degree - apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan instead
You might be eligible for a Postgraduate Master’s loan if you’re taking a year out of an undergraduate course to study for a master’s.
But this will generally mean you aren’t entitled to undergraduate funding anymore because you’ll hold a higher level qualification.
Master of architecture
If you plan to study for a master of architecture (MArch) qualification full-time, apply for undergraduate support.
The Postgraduate Master’s Loan will only be available for an MArch if either:
- you’re taking a part-time course
- you’re not eligible for undergraduate funding for another reason
Health and social work bursaries
You can’t get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if you:
- are eligible for an NHS bursary
- get a Social Work Bursary - unless you only get a Placement Travel Allowance
This also applies for health and social work bursaries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.
The academic year is a period of 12 months starting on:
- 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December
- 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March
- 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June
- 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July
Nationality and residency status
You can get the Postgraduate Master’s Loan if all of the following apply:
- you’re a UK or EU national, or have ‘settled status’, so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay
- you normally live in England, and didn’t move there just to study
- you’ve been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years before starting your course
You may also be eligible if you’re an EU national and all the following apply:
- you’re living in England on the first day of the first year of your course
- you’ve normally lived in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’)
- you’ll be studying at a university or college in England
You could also be eligible if you’re:
- the child of a Swiss national
- the child of a Turkish worker
- a refugee or a relative of one
- an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one
- under humanitarian protection or a relative of someone who has been granted it
- 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half your life
When can I apply?
You can apply now for courses that started in the:
- 2017 to 2018 academic year (£10,280 maximum)
- 2016 to 2017 academic year (£10,000 maximum)
You’ll be able to apply for funding for the 2018 to 2019 academic year in summer 2018.
Click here to apply online. You'll only have to apply once, even if your course is longer than one year.
The deadline for applying depends on when you start your course.
If you started in the 2017 to 2018 academic year
You need to apply within 9 months of the first day of the last academic year of the course.
If you started in the 2016 to 2017 academic year
You need to apply within 9 months of the first day of the:
- first academic year, for one-year courses
- second academic year, for courses that are 2-years or longer
The academic year
The academic year is a period of 12 months.
The first day of your academic year depends when your course starts.
|Course start date between||First day of academic year|
|1 August and 31 December||1 September|
|1 January and 31 March||1 January|
|1 April and 30 June||1 April|
|1 July and 31 July||1 July|
Is the Postgraduate Loan means tested?
No. The Postgraduate Loan is not based on household income. If you are eligible to receive the funding you can request the full amount.
Will I be charged interest on my loan?
You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment until your loan is repaid in full or cancelled.
The interest rate on the loan is currently 6.1%.
The rate is set by adding 3% to the Retail Price Index (RPI). The interest rate is updated in September every year, using the RPI from March of that year.
How do I repay my loan?
The earliest you start repaying is when your annual income is over £21,000 and it’s either the:
- first April after you leave your course
- April 4 years after the course started
Contact Student Finance England if your circumstances change or you leave your course early. You’ll have to pay back any overpayment straight away even if your income is less than £21,000.
You’ll pay back 6% of your income over the minimum amount (‘threshold’). This is £21,000 a year, £1,750 a month or £404 a week.
You must repay any undergraduate student loans you have at the same time.
Do I have to borrow the full amount?
No. You will be able to choose the amount of loan you apply for, the loan request amount can be changed up to one month from the academic year end date.
You can borrow up to £25,000 for your whole course.
The amount you’ll get isn’t based on you or your family’s income.
The loan is paid directly to you. You can use it for your course fees and living costs.
For more information on eligibility criteria, when you get paid, and how repayment works, please click here
Contact Student Finance England if you have further questions.
Student Finance England Postgraduate Loan team
Telephone: 0300 100 0031
Textphone: 0300 100 0622
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges
If you are planning to take a PGCE course you should look into the funding available, which may vary depending on the subject area in which you wish to specialise. You may also be eligible for UK grants and loans. More details here
Professional and Career Development Loan
If you are planning to undertake postgraduate study, you may also be able to apply for a Professional and Career Development Loan.
For further information call 0800 585 505 or visit www.gov.uk/career-development-loans/overview