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Postgraduate Student Loans

Tamires Criscio
Tamires Criscio
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 1st April 2021

Are you looking to get a postgraduate student loan? Latest Deals is here to help you understand everything about it. Learn more about how to get a postgraduate student loan in England today.

What is a postgraduate student loan? 

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A postgraduate student loan will help you to pay for your master’s course fees and living costs while you are studying. Depending on where you live in the UK, the process of getting a postgraduate student loan will be different. This guide is focused on postgraduate student loans in England. In addition, if you have a disability, you could get extra support. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can’t get a postgraduate student loan for a postgraduate course that’s not a master's degree such as  postgraduate diplomas (PGDip) or postgraduate certificates (PGCert). Some of the master’s degree titles you can get with your loan are: 

  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Art (MA)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Master of Research (MRes)
  • Master of Law (LLM)
  • Master of Letters (MLitt)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • Master of Education (MEd)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Depending on the type of studies you want to do, you will need to apply for other types of student loans, for example, if you are looking to be a doctor or an architect. 

What’s the difference between a normal Student Loan and a Postgraduate Student Loan?

A postgraduate student loan can only be used for a Master's degree. Meanwhile, student loans can be used for undergraduate degrees and other types of studies. 

How much is a postgraduate student loan? 

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A postgraduate student loan is variable and usually is around £10,000. The amount you get is not based on your income as you can decide how much you want to borrow. You can borrow anything from £1 to the maximum available for the period of your studies. The government then evaluates how much you can receive according to your circumstances and your application details. At the moment, for students that are planning to start studying from April 2021 to April 2022, the postgraduate student loan is up to £11,570. You don’t know how much you will get until your application is approved. 

What’s included in a Postgraduate Student Loan?

A postgraduate student loan includes tuition fees and maintenance loans to cover living expenses. You will get an amount of around £10,000 depending on when you have started or will start studying. This amount is to cover all the expenses related to your Master’s degree. This includes the cost of the course and living costs such as rent, bills and food. In some cases, this will be enough to cover everything and in others, it won’t. You can still apply for extra help such as scholarships and grants. 

When will the postgraduate student loan be paid? 

Your postgraduate student loan will be paid directly into your bank account. If your course is longer than a year, you will receive a loan divided equally across each year of your course up to two years (the usual length of a part-time Master’s course, if you need to study for longer for any reason, you won’t receive any more payments). Each year, you will be paid in 3 instalments of 33%, 33% and 34%. You usually receive your first payment after your course start date and once the university confirms that you’ve registered with them.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Differently from other student loans, a postgraduate student loan is not paid directly to the university, so you will need to pay the university yourself. To be able to apply for a postgraduate student loan, you need to have confirmation you are registered for a Master’s degree. This means that you will probably need to pay from your pocket up-front to be able to start your course. Also, you can apply for a postgraduate student loan even if you are already studying.

When do I need to repay my postgraduate loan? 

You will need to repay your postgraduate loan as soon as your income is over £21,000 per year after your graduation. Repayments always start in April. From the first payment, you will be charged interest. Interest will be charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%. You will be paying 6% of your monthly salary after tax every month until everything is paid off.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you never earn over £21,000 per year in your life, you will never need to repay a penny. Also, when 30 years (from April after graduation) have passed, your postgraduate student loan gets wiped. 

How do I know if I am eligible for a postgraduate student loan? 

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The eligibility criteria for a postgraduate student loan varies according to the course choice, the student age and the student nationality or residency status. 

The course needs to be worth at least 180 credits and started on or after 1st August 2016. The student needs to be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course and be a UK national, or have EU settled status or indefinite leave to remain. There are many other criteria regarding nationality and residency status. Click here to meet the eligibility criteria in full. 

According to the UK Government, you will not be able to get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if: you’re already getting payments from Student Finance England (that means, you haven’t finished your undergraduate studies and still at university studying), you already have a master’s degree, or you’re behind in repayments for any previous loans from the Student Loans Company. See more information about this here. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: What does 180 credits mean? This regarding the total amount of hours of classes. 180 credits reflects a full-time 12-month length of most Masters courses. Usually, you also have the option to do it part-time in 2 years. To be eligible for a Master’s Degree, the student needs to complete 180 credits in hours of classes, in different subjects according to their course’s choice. 

How do I apply for a postgraduate student loan? 

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Once you have checked the eligibility page on the UK government website and see that you are eligible, you can apply. Even if your course is longer than one year, you just need to apply once. You can apply online by setting up an account on Student Finance England. You can also apply by post via this form. To apply, you will need to provide supporting documents such as a valid passport, course provider, course details, bank account details, and National Insurance number. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: To apply for a postgraduate student loan, you will need to have applied already for your course and been approved. You can use this document to then apply for a postgraduate student loan. 

What’s the postgraduate student loan deadline?

Keep in mind that there is a postgraduate student loan deadline. To be eligible for a postgraduate student loan you need to apply at least nine months from the start of your final year. For example, if your one year Masters starts on 1st September 2021, you need to apply by 1st June 2022. Usually, an application is processed in around 4 to 6 weeks but it can take longer if there is any need for additional information and pieces of evidence. 

Disabled Students' Allowances

If you have a mental health problem, long term illness, specific learning difficulty, or any other disability, you can get extra help. Disabled Student’s Allowances don’t need to be repaid. 

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