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Masters Loans

Masters loansMasters study is a fantastic investment in your future. Gaining a masters degree is a great way to further your career or even completely change career direction, and it is also a brilliant option for those seeking personal fulfilment or a new life challenge. However, if you want to study a masters degree program, you may well find that you need some help funding your postgraduate studies, and this is where postgraduate masters loans can come in handy.

If you are studying your masters degree in the United Kingdom and need some help funding your studies there are several options available to you. Postgraduate loans options options available to masters-level students include UK Government funding, private commercial loans and bank loans.

Depending on where you are resident in the UK, there is a choice of types of loans and grants available from the UK Government for masters level study. Each home nation – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – has slightly different policies and funding opportunities for students who are usually resident there.

This table gives a brief overview of what you can borrow depending on which home nation you are resident in.  

Masters loans

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Government masters loans in England

What students are eligible?

Students are eligible for a masters loan if they are usually resident in England and are studying a masters level course on a full-time or structured part-time basis in the UK. For distance learning programs, you must be resident in England for the entire duration of the course. All eligible students must be under the age of 60 on the first day of the course, regardless of study method. Those students who are serving in the armed forces or who are the partners or dependent children of someone in the armed forces do not need to be currently resident in England. To be eligible you cannot hold a masters level qualification already or be behind in payments to the Student Loans Company to be considered for a Government loan.

What courses qualify?

Any masters level course that is worth 180 credits which includes all types of MSc, MPhil, MLitt, MA, MBA and MRes courses. The subject of the course you are studying doesn't impact on the amount you are eligible for, but if you want more tailored information on studying a postgraduate law program we have the lowdown on law-specific loans. Courses that are integrated with an undergraduate degree or a PhD do not qualify for masters loans but may qualify for other Government loan programs. MArch, a Masters of Architecture, or an MEng, Masters of Engineering, tend to be included in the undergraduate course, so are part of undergraduate student loans rather than postgraduate funding.

Who should you apply to?

If you are a masters student resident in England you should apply to Student Finance England. The application is done online, and if you’ve already borrowed money for your undergraduate degree, then you use the same log in details. Alternatively, if you have problems using computers or cannot make an application online, there is an option to fill in a paper version or apply by telephone.

What about the repayments?

The interest on the masters loan starts the moment you receive your first payment, but repayments do not start until your income reaches the threshold amount. You need to repay any amount you have borrowed from the Government, even if you do not complete your course. For full-time students, repayments can start the April after you have completed the course or if you are a part-time student four years after the course has started. In England, repayments are made at 9% over any income earned over £21,000. There are no penalties or fees if you pay your loan off early. These repayments are collected through the PAYE system or via the self-assessment tax process. If you move abroad, then there are different, some lower some higher, limits to when you start your repayments.

Can the debt be cancelled?

The debt can be cancelled for masters level loans taken out from 2007 onwards if a student becomes unable to work because of disability or illness. The loans can be cancelled either after 25 or 30 years, depending on the loan plan, after the first moment you were due to start repaying.

Government masters loans in Scotland

What students are eligible?

Students who are usually resident in Scotland can borrow money from the Government to assist with tuition fees and the cost of living while studying. Students who have already completed a masters-level course in the UK or Europe do not qualify for funding. For those students applying for the tuition fees loan there is no upper age limit, but for those applying for the living costs loan the upper age limit is 60 years old on the first day of your course.

What courses qualify?

Similarly to masters funding in England, to get funding when normally residing in Scotland students must be studying a recognised masters program of 180 credits on a full-time or structured part-time basis. This includes all types of MSc, MPhil, MLitt, MA, MBA and MRes courses.

Who should you apply to?

Government loans applications for students who are normally resident in Scotland should direct their application to an organisation in Scotland is known as the Student Awards Agency Scotland. All students who normally resident in Scotland will use this agency to apply online.

What about the repayments?

In Scotland, students currently start repaying their student loans once they earn over £19,390 from the first April after they have graduated. The Scottish Government wishes to increase this threshold to £25,000 from April 2021. Otherwise, the repayments are just the same as England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Can the debt be cancelled?

Yes, the debt can be cancelled if you have made the necessary repayments but the debt is still outstanding by the time you turn 65 for those who took out their first loan before August 2007. For students who took out their first loan after August 2007 then any loan is cancelled after 30 years.

Government masters loans in Wales

What students are eligible?

Students who are usually resident in Wales and will be under 60 years old on the first day of their course are eligible for Welsh Government funding. You must be studying your first masters-level course and not have received funding from a UK or EU Government for postgraduate studying before.

What courses qualify?

Any full-time or structured part-time course that is at the masters level of 180 credits either on-campus or distance learning online, however the DL course must be based in the UK. Therefore, this includes all types of MSc, MPhil, MLitt, MA, MBA and MRes courses.

Who should you apply to?

Students who are resident in Wales can apply for masters loans online to Student Finance Wales.

What about the repayments?

Just like England, repayments start the April after you graduate at 9% of your earned income above the earnings limit which is currently £21,000 before tax and deductions.

Can the debt be cancelled?

Again, just like masters loans in England, the debt can be cancelled depending on the loan plan either 25 or 30 years after you have taken out your loan.

Government masters loans in Northern Ireland

What students are eligible?

Any UK citizen or national of the Republic of Ireland who has been resident in Northern Ireland for three years before your course starts are eligible for Government student loans. The course must be the first masters level course that the student has studied either within the UK or the EU.

What courses qualify?

Similarly to England, Wales and Scotland, masters courses must be full-time or a structured part-time course over two or three years and at the masters levels worth 180 credits. This includes all types of MSc, MPhil, MLitt, MA, MBA and MRes courses. Distance learning online and on-campus courses are both qualify, but they must be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.

Who should you apply to?

If you want to apply for a Government masters loan and normally reside in Northern Ireland you should apply to Student Finance Northern Ireland. Students can apply online or via a printed form.

What about the repayments?

Students start repaying their loans once they earn over £19,390 per year before tax and deductions from the April after they have graduated. Repayments are the same as in England, Wales and Scotland, and deducted at 9% of earned income over the threshold paid through the tax system.

Can the debt be cancelled?

Yes, the debt can be cancelled after 25 years from the first day of your course.

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What about private loans?

There are a few private loans companies that work with masters-level students to provide loans to cover fees and even living expenses.

Tailor-made loans from Prodigy Finance 

One good option is Prodigy Finance, which will lend to international students who may not qualify for loans from the UK Governments. Prodigy Finance will also offer funding to UK students, and as these loans are tailor-made to suits the applicant, repayment terms are favourable. For private loans, students must be at an institution that the private student loan company works with and studying a specific set of courses, such as science and technology courses. Here is a basic summary of what is on offer to masters students from Prodigy Finance.

Prodigy Finance

Peer-to-peer lending from Lendwise 

Lendwise is another example of a good private funding option for postgraduate students. Lendwise offers eligible applicants loans of between £5,000 and £100,000 with repayment terms of up to 10 years. Loans taken out from private student loan companies are repaid in a more traditional format directly by the student. Students can usually borrow money for up to 10 or 20 years to cover their expenses while studying. Here we outline the funding offered by Lendwise.

Lendwise

Can you get bank loans as a masters student?

Traditional high street banks in the UK offer personal loans, but not specific student loans due to the UK Government's provision in loans to postgraduate students.

What about international students in the UK?

Students from the EU can still access UK Government student loans from the home nations if they meet the residency requirements and are studying this year in the UK. International students from outside the EU do not meet the necessary residency requirements and should look at other avenues of funding such as scholarships, loans from their home nations, and of course they can apply for commercial private loans such as those provided by Prodigy Finance and Lendwise.

Masters loans repayments at a glance

Whatever masters loan you opt for to help fund your studies, you need to make sure you can keep on top of the masters loans repayments. Let’s take a look at when you need to start making your masters loans repayments depending on what masters loan you are eligible for.

Masters Loans Repayments

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Ask Postgrad

We have compiled answers to frequently asked questions about UK masters loans. If you still have any unanswered questions about masters loans please email us and we will do our best to help.

What courses qualify for a UK Government masters loan?

The masters loan is available for all types of masters program, including MSc, MPhil, MLitt, MA and MRes courses.

Are UK Government masters loans means-tested? 

No – all that matters is that you and your masters course are eligible for the loan, your income and savings do not affect your eligibility.

Can I apply for a UK Government masters loan if I’ve lived outside the UK in the last three years?   

No – to apply for a loan as a UK student you must have lived in the UK for three years prior to your masters course. You can have travelled from the UK for holidays or periods of temporary absence during these three years, but you shouldn’t have become ordinarily resident in another country.

Will my credit history be checked?   

Your personal credit rating and existing debts won’t matter for UK Government masters loans unless you are in arrears with the Student Loans Company. Your credit history will usually be checked with private funding companies like Prodigy Finance and Lendwise.

Can I get a masters loan whilst working? 

Yes – you can have a job during your masters studies and still access UK Government masters student finance. You will also be able to apply for a private loan from companies like Prodigy Finance and Lendwise if studying your masters whilst working.

Can I apply for a second UK Government masters loan?   

No – you can’t apply for a second masters loan if you have already had one for a previous masters course.

Can I get a UK Government masters loan if I already have a masters degree? 

No – UK Government masters loans are only available to people who do not have existing masters-level qualifications (or higher).

Can I apply for a UK Government masters loan if I already have a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma?   

Yes – you can apply for a loan for a masters degree if you already have a PG qualification below masters level, such as a PGCert or PGDip.

Can I apply for a UK Government masters loan if I already have a PGCE? 

Yes – you can still apply for a masters loan if you already have a PGCE.

Can I get a UK Government masters loan if I already have a PhD? 

No –­ you can’t apply for a loan if you already hold a PhD (or other doctorate), they are only available if you don’t already have existing qualifications at masters level or higher.

Will I still receive Disabled Students’ Allowance if I have a masters/MBA loan?  

Yes – payments and eligibility for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) are separate from postgraduate loans.

When will I have to start making my masters loan repayments?

Your loan repayments will depend on what home nation or private company you got your loan from as this table illustrates.

Masters Loans Repayments

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 Postgrad.com and LLMstudy.com 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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