Postgraduate loans (PGL)

Loans for Masters courses starting in 2017/18

Postgraduate Loans (PGLs) are available from Student Finance England to study a Masters course. Master’s students under 60 can access a loan of up to £10,280 as a contribution towards the cost of their study. This is part of the government’s long-term commitment to enhance support for postgraduate study.

How much is the PGL?

The PGL is £10,280 for the whole course. Students can apply for less than the maximum and there is no minimum loan request amount. Students can increase the amount of loan requested up to one month before the end of the academic year.

Which courses are eligible for the postgraduate loan of £10,280?

The course must be a standalone Masters course starting in 2017/18 or later. This can be a taught or research Masters (MRes). The student 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; or
  • 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, the student must be residing in England
  • not an integrated masters such as MEng or MPlan, and funded as part of an undergraduate course.

View a list of eligible courses.

What if I want to study a postgraduate research course?

You can apply for a loan to study a research course provided it awards a Masters degree and lasts no longer that two years full time. This may potentially include some MPhil courses, but will not cover PhD degrees.

Which courses are not eligible for the PGL?

  • Postgraduate Certificates (PG Cert) such as PGCEs
  • Postgraduate Diplomas (PGDip)
  • the BPTC
  • PhDs are currently excluded, but the government has announced there may be a similar type of loan for study at doctorate level introduced for the 2018/19 academic year.

Will the PGL fund an MPhil?

An MPhil degree is a level 7 qualification. This is the level of study specified for the PGL scheme. However, many students register for the MPhil in the first year of a PhD course that ultimately awards a level 8 qualification. At three years, a full-time PhD also exceeds the length of study permitted for a Masters loan.

If you are studying an MPhil as part of a standalone qualification you should be eligible for a £10,280 Masters loan.

If you are only registering for an MPhil in the initial stage of a PhD course, you won’t qualify for the Masters Loan. You may be eligible for the £25,000 PhD loan scheme if and when it is introduced.

Eligible students must be:

  • under 60 on 1 September 2017   
  • without a Masters or PhD qualification and
  • 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.

and

  • Most recently been ordinarily resident in England. If you have moved to England solely for the purposes of studying a Masters, 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 are 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.

I’m a student from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, can I receive a postgraduate loan?

These loans are intended for English students. However, eligibility for postgraduate loans is based on English-residency, not English-nationality. If you are Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, but normally live in England not just for the purpose of study, you will be able to receive a loan. If you have moved to England solely for the purposes of studying a Masters, 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 are currently working on their own equivalent Postgraduate Loan schemes for students that want to study in the UK. Further details are likely to be available from spring 2017.

I already have a postgraduate qualification. Will I be able to apply for a loan to study a different course?

If your qualification is at a lower level than a Masters (so for example, a PG cert, LPC or PG Dip) you will be eligible for the PGL as long as you register on a full Masters course and do not apply for Prior Certificated Learning or Accredited Learning.

If you have a Masters or PhD qualification from anywhere in the world, you will not be entitled to the PGL.

I have studied at PG level previously. Will I still be entitled?

As long as you have not achieved a qualification at Masters or PhD level, you will still be entitled.

Who receives the PGL?

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 will the loan be paid?

This will depend on how long your course lasts and whether you are studying part time or full time.

One-year course

The PGL of £10,280 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 4th and 7th 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 will receive £5,000 in three instalments (as above timetable) for two academic years. This means that you may receive instalments after you have completed your course.

I will be studying on a part-time basis. How will the loan be paid?

You must complete your Masters within four years.

The PGL will be paid across all years of the course. The total loan of up to £10,280 will be divided equally over the number of years you study and paid in three equal instalments (as above timetable) in each year.

How do I apply for the loan?

Applications are likely to open from February or March 2017. The quickest and easiest way to apply will be via the Gov.uk website. You do not 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

UK students can provide their valid UK passport details to confirm their identify and won't need to send any documents to SFE. So for most students the application process should be quick and easy.

You will need to provide an address history for the last three years and your National Insurance number (unless you are 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 will get and the payment dates.

What if I want to study a different course after I start the masters?

As long as you are transferring to another eligible Masters course, your funding will transfer with you.

What if I need to repeat a year?

This will not generally be funded unless you can prove compelling personal reasons for failing a year.

How is the loan repaid?

  • 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 the threshold.
  • The interest rate will be inflation rate (or Retail Price index) + 3%. Inflation is currently 1.6%.
  • Repayments are due from the April after you complete your course. However, the first set of repayments will not begin until April 2019 even if you complete the Masters course earlier.
  • Any balance outstanding after 30 years will be written off.

Below is a table that models the concurrent repayment of UG and PG loans linked to the level of your post-study earnings. If you have student loans from your undergraduate study, you will need to add the monthly repayments together to work out your total loan repayments. The amount you repay on your UG loans will depend on whether you started your course prior to September 2012 or after.

Gross taxable income Net monthly wage Monthly repayments UG loans post 2012 Monthly repayment PG loans Monthly repayment UG loans pre 2012
£20,000 £1,397 0 0 £20
£26,000 £1,737 £37.50 £25 £65
£31,000 £2,020 £75 £50 £102
£36,000 £2,303 £112 £75 £140
£41,000 £2,578 £150 £100 £177
£46,000 £2,845 £187 £124 £214
£56,000 £3,328 £262 £175 £290

What information is there about the loans for PhDs?

  • Loans for PhD courses may be up to a maximum of £25,000.
  • Students will repay their PhD loans on an income-contingent basis.
  • They are available for courses that start in the 2018/19 academic year.

Where can I get more information?

Further details are likely to be available via the following links from spring 2017:

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