eligibility for student loans in uk

Postgraduate student loans in UK

Postgraduate student loans in England are available if you’re looking to study a postgraduate degree in England. Our guide brought to you by Kampus Group shows you all you need to know.

Postgraduate Student Loans and Grants in England

The maximum postgraduate loan available in England is £11,570 as stated in August 2021. This postgraduate student loan only applies to those applying for a full master’s degree of at least 180 credits, this doesn’t include the ‘top-up’ master’s option.

The master’s loan covers the whole duration of your selected course or degree, with the money split evenly throughout the academic year…

It’ll be paid directly to you in three instalments each academic year once your attendance on the course has been confirmed by the institution.

You can use the money for both your master’s tuition fees as well as your own living costs and arrangements. Postgraduate tuition fees vary depending on the course or major, and therefore it is good to take into account that some master’s degrees will cost more than the amount of loan that you’re entitled to.

You have the right to borrow as much or as little as you want and up to the maximum amount. In England, master’s loans don’t take your household income into account when loaning the money into your account.

You’re also able to apply for grants from charitable trusts and bursaries through your university. You can also apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if this applies to you. If you currently receive benefits or universal credit and plan to study part-time, your benefits may be affected in this instance.

If you already have taken out an undergraduate loan, repayments will only be taken if your income is above the income threshold stated by Student Finance. Your new loan that you will receive doesn’t count as income for previous loan repayments through student finance.

Are you eligible for a postgraduate student loan in England?

You must meet the criteria set by Student Finance to be eligible for a master’s loan in England:

  • You must have been a resident in England and have been living in the British Isles for the three years before the start of your course or degree. If you moved to England to study for an undergraduate degree you won’t be considered

  • You must be under the age of 60 years when you start your course or major. If you change course after this, you’ll lose your eligibility for the loan
  • You must be taking your first master’s-level course or degree otherwise you won’t get funding if you already have a master’s level qualification (even if you funded this yourself or it wasn’t from a UK university)

You’ll still be eligible for a postgraduate student loan in England if you have a PGCE or a postgraduate diploma/certificate equivalent. If you have an MA from a Scottish university or from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford or Trinity College Dublin, these are considered lower level and are covered through Undergraduate Finance

You won’t be eligible for a postgraduate loan if you’re behind in payments for any previous loans to the Student Loans Company. This also applies if you are in debt to Student Finance for another course.

You also won’t be eligible if you get other ‘public’ funded income or benefits while studying your course (this also includes students who receive the social work bursary).

Is your course eligible for master’s funding?

Your course must be a master’s degree worth a minimum of 180 credits, this can be taught or research based.

This includes MSc, MA, MPhil, MRes, LLM, MLitt, MFA, MEd and MBA courses. In general, only stand-alone master courses are eligible for the master’s loan. If you’re unsure whether your course falls into this category you can get in contact with Kampus Group or Student Finance.

Courses that aren’t eligible for master’s funding include:

  • Master’s degrees integrated into an undergraduate course – these come under the category of undergraduate funding

  • Master’s degrees that are integrated into a doctoral course – these fall under the category of a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

  • Postgraduate certificates and diplomas (noting that PGCEs are covered through undergraduate funding)

  • Graduate-entry healthcare courses (including pre-registration Nursing) can also qualify for undergraduate loans, even if they lead to an MSc

You can apply for a postgraduate student loan in England if you’re taking a year out of some degree courses to study a master’s, for instance, ‘intercalated’ master’s. This includes undergraduate degrees such as; Architecture, Dentistry, Medicine, Social Work, Veterinary Science or undergraduate Initial Teacher Training.

Once you’ve finished your ‘intercalated’ course, you can return to complete your undergraduate degree and still receive the rest of your undergraduate student loan.

You can use the master’s loan for master’s degrees studied through distance learning. You must live in the UK for the duration of your course. An exception is made if a student is in the armed forces (or a dependent relative of someone in the armed forces) and is also serving overseas.

The duration 

Postgraduate courses or loans can be one to two years long if studied full-time. Part-time courses can be twice the duration of a full-time course, or up to three years if no full-time equivalent course exists in England.

Are you eligible for student finance?

Postgraduate finance eligibility for EU and international students

After Brexit, England has confirmed that EU students starting a degree in 2020 and 2021 will remain eligible for the duration of their course if they meet the current criteria set by the UK.

Those starting a course from 2021/22 onwards won’t be eligible for the ‘home fee status’ or support with student finance funding unless they’re registered with the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme or if the individual is an Irish national.

If you’re an international student, unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be eligible for a postgraduate loan. Exceptions include those who have the right to permanently remain in the UK (e.g. those who withhold a refugee status).

However, there are often scholarships and bursaries for international students studying at postgraduate level, so at Kampus Group we advise that you check what your university has on offer.

How to apply for a postgraduate loan in England

You can apply for a master’s loan online through Student Finance England. If you haven’t already got an account we strongly advise you to register through GOV.UK.

You only have to apply once, even if your course lasts longer than a year. You don’t have to apply instantly as the deadline is 9 months after the first day of your final academic year. You also don’t need to have a confirmed place from the Institution, as you can change or update your details later in the academic year.

You’ll need to provide evidence of your identity on Student Finance such as a valid passport, or if you don’t have one, your birth or adoption certificate.

For student postgraduate loans in England the money will be paid directly to you and not the university.

Repaying your student loan

You’ll repay your postgraduate loan at the same time as any other student loans you may currently have. As with undergraduate loans, repayments are based on your income that you have after graduation.

Student postgraduate loans in England are repaid at 6% on income above £21,000 per year. 

If you earn £25,000 per year, you’ll repay 6% of the £4,000 above the £21,000 threshold, this works out at a monthly payment of £20. Currently those from England or Wales only make repayments on their undergraduate loan once their income is above the £27,295 mark. There is no annual change to the repayment threshold for postgraduate loans from England, however it is always good to be in the loop.

The interest rate is based on the cost of living as measured by the retail price index (RPI) and is set at RPI plus 3%. This changes every September, based on the RPI from the preceding March. From September 2021 the RPI for postgraduate loans is set at 1.5%. However, when the market for comparable loans leads to a drop in interest rates, sometimes these can be short-term reduction in the interest rates.

Repayments begin in April the year after you complete your course, but only when you’re above the income threshold set by Student Finance. After 30 years, if you haven’t paid off your loan in the full amount, the remaining amount will be written off.

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