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Postgraduate Loans

For postgraduate students planning to study in the UK, there are lots of options for funding. If you're a UK resident, then there are plenty of UK Government options for borrowing the money you need. International students may have fewer choices but it is still worth checking out what is available to you in the UK, as well as considering funding options from your home country. Plus, there are plenty of private student loan options that PG students can consider when it comes to funding their postgraduate studies. It’s important that students give private loans full consideration, choose a trusted reputable provider and do not enter into a loan agreement lightly. We work with two private loans companiesLendwise and Prodigy Finance – that may be able to help you fund your studies, however we recommend that you consider other funding options too. As well as considering private companies like Lendwise, postgraduate students from the EU can borrow money from some UK Governments for 2020-2021, but this may change for the following years due to Brexit. There are lots of issues to consider when planning your postgraduate funding and postgraduate student loan options, such as your budget, lifestyle, repayments, guarantors and credit checks. Luckily, there is a good range of different options for those needing help funding their studies – so let's take a look at what these options are.

UK Government loans

Each of the four nations that make up the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – have their own systems and regulations that cover government-backed loans to postgraduate students. These governments offer differing amounts for various aspects of postgraduate study and to different levels of study, eg masters or PhD. In some areas of the UK, all postgraduate students will have access to some form of postgraduate loans, whilst in other areas, it is only masters-level students that are eligible for government-backed postgraduate loans. This table illustrates the percentage of masters students taking out a Government loan in England by age.

Masters students loans


Alternatively, there are private loans that can cover all sorts of expenses associated with postgraduate study and are tailor-made for postgraduate students. For both private and government loans in the UK, there are age restrictions for some loans and this depends on where you are normally resident. If you are a UK resident who has just completed an undergraduate student, then you will probably be familiar with the student loans application process. The majority of people apply online through the different student finance bodies of Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland and the Student Awards Agency Scotland. They all have similar deadlines, but it’s best to sort out your funding as early as possible so you can concentrate on your studies rather than worry about money. Private loans usually have more flexible deadlines compared to the Government-sponsored ones.

Private loans

There are plenty of private loan options that postgraduate students can consider when it comes to funding their postgraduate studies, but it’s very important to choose a trusted reputable provider and not enter into a loan agreement without giving it full consideration. All private loans providers will have different eligibility requirements and repayment terms so make sure you opt for the one that's right for you. We work with two private loans companies – Lendwise and Prodigy Finance – and they may be able to help you fund your studies, however we recommend that you consider other private funding options too before making your decision.

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What can you spend a postgraduate loan on?

Whether you qualify for UK Government postgraduate loans or choose a private loan option, what you are able to spend your postgraduate loan on depends on the loan. Some funding bodies will actually pay the funds directly to your university to cover the tuition fees. For example, some private providers work with specific universities to provide loans, and this means that there may be some restrictions such as paying for tuition fees first. Otherwise, you are free to spend the money on any living costs or other expenses that you have. For UK Government loans, students either have their tuition fees paid directly by the loan provider or they receive all of the funds themselves.

What about the loan repayments?

The repayments that you need to make will depend on the postgraduate loan you have taken out and from where. For UK Government loans, each of the home nations has different charges and repayment amounts, but they are all paid in the same way. Payments are made once you have graduated and are earning above a certain threshold, they are taken before you pay tax either directly from your wages or through your tax assessment once you have graduated. The amount you pay is a percentage of what you earn over the threshold set by the Government from the area of the UK you borrowed money from. Payments to private loan companies are made differently, and either begin straight away as soon as the loan is taken out at a small amount or others start taking repayments six months after you graduate. Payments are made directly to the loan provider, and the calculations use both your expected income and the amount you borrowed. The different governments of the UK set the interest rates for their students and these can change, so you need to check on these. Private loans also demand different interest rates, and these are in the terms and conditions of your loan, so do make sure you read the small print so you know what you are expected to pay and when.

The importance of budgeting

Knowing the amount you need to borrow will help keep your repayments and the cost of your postgraduate loan down. When you apply for your postgraduate loan, you will find out what the tuition fees are, which for some courses is a significant part of the cost, and you will be able to work out what the cost of living is at the institution you are considering. Speaking to current or past students could help you find out what to expect financially, and bear in mind that much of what you spend does depend on your lifestyle. Choosing accommodation that includes all of your bills will help with your budgeting decisions and private loan providers will have advice about how much other students at your university have needed to borrow.

Credit checks & eligibility

Private student loan providers use a student's credit history as part of the assessment over eligibility for a loan. However, if you have little or no credit history, you should keep in mind that student loan providers are used to loaning money to young postgraduate students. Often the course you are studying, and your possible potential future earnings dictate the terms and conditions of your private loan. UK Government loans are not the same as other loans, and they do not check your credit history. Eligibility for a Government loan tends to rely on your age, subject area and where you are studying, rather than your credit history.

Guarantors & co-signers

Postgraduate students who are older with a good credit history do not usually require a guarantor for a private student loan. Students who are younger without credit history or who don't have a good credit history will probably require someone to be a guarantor for their loan. A guarantor is someone who agrees to be liable for the full loan if the postgraduate student does not pay the loan back. UK Government postgraduate student loans do not require a guarantor. Tailor-made private loans companies such as Prodigy Finance and Lendwise don’t usually require the student to have a co-signer.

International & EU students

International students often choose to borrow money for their studies privately. Many postgraduate student loan providers work in many countries and some – such as Prodigy Finance – pride themselves in specialising in international students, and this means that students can travel using the same loan provider for their studies. Some private student loan providers have a great deal of experience and knowledge about the problems that face international students studying in the UK. In some UK nations, EU students can still access UK Government student loans on a similar or the same basis as residents, but in other areas, they need to have settled or pre-settled status. Check with the university you are applying to for specific local advice over funding options if you are an international or EU postgraduate student.

Other funding options

There are other options aside from borrowing the money. If you are working and studying part time, then you might be able to fund your studies directly with a bit of clever budgeting. Tuition fees are usually paid across the year rather than in one payment, so you may find you can afford them this way. Many universities offer scholarships and bursaries, as do many charities and other organisations such as the Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries worth £500 towards your tuition fees. Students on some subject areas, for example many medical postgraduate students, will find they qualify for bursaries from the UK Government, so they are not eligible for UK Government student loans. If you've been planning your career and postgraduate study, then the most affordable way to pay for your course is through your savings. This table provides a breakdown of how self-funding masters students pay for their studies.

Self0funding masters students


Disclaimer: Prodigy Finance and Lendwise are two of many potential funding options for postgraduate students. Other student funding options are available; research all your options thoroughly before making a commitment. Please be aware that Postgrad Solutions Ltd receives a commission from both parties for any successful loan applications taken out by and users. Postgrad Solutions accepts no responsibility for your choice of loan and does not endorse or support Prodigy Finance or Lendwise. Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and entered on the Financial Services Register under firm registration number 612713. Lendwise Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under firm registration number 782496.


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