Up until recently students in the UK could take out government-supported loans to pursue higher education courses. Since August 2016, postgraduate students in the UK have been eligible to take out postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees and living expenses.
From August 2017, this amount will increase to £10,280. However, these loans only apply to masters degree students and not PhD students. Students on full-time, part-time and distance-learning masters courses are eligible to apply for one of these postgraduate loans, as long as they are under the age of 60 and are not already in possession of a masters degree or other postgraduate qualification. The loan is not means-tested. If you have a disability you may receive extra support, which does not have to be repaid.
To apply, you supply Student Finance England or your national funding company with your passport details, and the name of your preferred course. Once your application is processed, the organisation will send you a letter with details of the amount of money you are going to receive. Keep this letter as part of your university application. Once you are registered with a university, you will receive the first payment into your bank account, one of three instalments during the academic year.
An interesting situation
Interest is added to your loan from the day you receive your first payment. This rate was set in September 2016 by adding 3% to the retail price index or RPI. This September 2017, the interest rate will be reviewed and adjusted accordingly.
The loans are available to UK, European Economic Area and Swiss nationals who are ordinarily resident in England and studying at any UK university. You can find more details on the Student Finance England link. If you are a UK national or are from the EEA or Switzerland and are living in Wales and wish to study at a Welsh or UK university, you are eligible for this loan. The amount of money available and repayment terms and conditions are the same as for those of students in England.
Scottish students and EU nationals resident in Scotland, but not students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales, can apply for funding assistance from the Scottish Funding Council, in lieu of taking out a postgraduate loan.
What about Northern Ireland?
From the summer of 2017, postgraduate Tuition Fee Loans of up to £5500 will be available to students in Northern Ireland, for the 2017/2018 academic year. These loans are not means-tested.
The earliest recipients of the postgraduate loan will not begin making repayments until April 2019. Following this, your repayment begins when your income reaches £21,000 per annum. This means you can earn up to £1,750 per month or £404 per week without having to make a repayment. You must repay 6% of all of your income over this amount. For example, if you earn £2,000 per month, which is £250 over the income threshold, you must repay £15 per month. Be aware that if you are already repaying an undergraduate loan, you will continue to make those repayments alongside your postgraduate loan. Any amount of money outstanding after 30 years will be written off.
This loan scheme is only temporary. After 2017, a new scheme offering a combination of grants and loans will be in place. Students will receive up to £17,000 for postgraduate study, which may include PhD courses. Plus, there are other student funding options available in the UK including our £500 Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries.