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The routes for postgraduate students to get loans for their continuing education have changed quite considerably in recent years. As such, you might be wondering what options you have when it comes to paying for tuition fees and the cost of living while studying for your degree. Which is fair, considering how expensive some courses can be – tuition fees for studying one year on certain MBA courses can reach as high as £60,000, for example. We’ve put together this handy article of postgraduate loan options for you to read and factor into your budget while you consider your course choices.
Postgraduate loan options vary between each nation in the United Kingdom, with different amounts of money available for different qualifications. UK-resident students must apply for a loan in the nation that they ‘normally live’, not the one that they are looking to study in (unless you moved there to study for undergraduate and stayed there to work after your degree).
Master’s students in England can get a Master’s Loan of up to £11,836 if the course starts after 1 August 2022 to help cover tuition fees and living costs. The loan is not means-tested and doesn’t need to be paid back until you are earning over £21,000. The loan is paid in three installments over the academic year, or equally across each year if you are taking a multi-year course.
To be able to receive this Master’s Loan, you must have normally lived in England, be under 60 years old when your course starts and it must be an eligible master’s course. Only full master’s courses worth at least 180 credits are eligible – top-up courses, degrees integrated with undergraduate courses, PGDips and PGCerts all do not qualify for the loan.
Students in England looking to take a doctoral degree can get a Doctoral Loan of up to £27,892 if the course starts after 1 August 2022. Just like the Master’s Loan, it is not means-tested and it doesn’t need to be paid back until you are earning over the threshold of £21,000. It’s paid in three equally divided installments each year.
Students must normally reside in England, be under 60 years old when their course starts and be studying an eligible doctoral course to qualify for this loan. Eligible degrees are full standalone courses that last between three to eight years, which includes PhD, EngD and EdD. They cannot be top-up courses.
The Master’s Loan in Wales works a little differently to the one in England. Students in Wales can get funding of up to £18,430 for their master’s degree, split into a loan (which will need to be repaid) and a grant (which will not need to be repaid). The split between loan and grant will depend on your household income. For example, if your household income is below £18,370, the loan will be £11,545 and the grant will be £6,885, while if your household income is above £59,200, the loan will be £17,430 and the grant will be £1,000.
To qualify for a Master’s Loan in Wales, students must normally live in Wales, be under 60 years old when the course starts and be studying an eligible master’s course. Eligible courses are worth at least 180 credits and are full standalone master’s courses, not top-up or integrated into an undergraduate or doctoral course.
While Wales and England have rather different Master’s Loans, the Doctoral Loans are quite similar. In Wales, Doctoral students can get a loan of £27,880 if the course starts between 1 August 2022 and 31 July 2023. It’s not means-tested and it only needs to be repaid once you’re earning over £21,000. The loan is paid in three equal installments each year of your course.
Students are eligible for a Doctoral Loan if they normally live in Wales, are under 60 years old when the course starts and are taking a full standalone doctoral course lasting between three and eight years, and is not a top-up course.
Go to: Read more about Funding for Welsh Postgraduate Students
In Scotland, postgraduate students can get a loan of up to £10,000 consisting of two parts, a tuition fee loan and a living-cost loan. The tuition fee loan is up to £5,500, while the living-cost loan is up to £4,500. The loan is not means-tested, and it will only need to be paid back when you’re earning over £25,375. The tuition fee loan is paid directly to your university, while the living-cost loan is paid to you split equally across each year of your course.
To be able to receive the postgraduate loan in Scotland, you must normally live in Scotland. There is no age limit for the tuition fee loan, but you must be under 60 years old to receive the living-cost loan. Only master’s and PGDips are eligible for Scotland’s postgraduate loan – doctoral and PGCert qualifications are not supported by the loan. Part-time students are also not eligible for the living-cost loan.
Students from Northern Ireland looking to study for a postgraduate degree can get a loan of up to £5,500. It isn't a means-tested loan and will only need to be repaid when you’re earning over £20,195. The loan is paid directly to your university in three lump sums throughout the year.
To be eligible for this loan, you just have been normally living in Northern Ireland. There is no age limit on the loan. It can be used for master’s, PGCert and PGDip courses, and unlike in England, Scotland and Wales, it can be used for top-up courses if you have a PGCert or PGDip and want to top-up to a master’s. Your course must also not last longer than three academic years.
In previous years, the Professional and Career Development Loan scheme was often used by postgraduate students to fund their education. However, the government closed the scheme in 2019, so students can no longer apply for these loans, though students who already took out one of these loans will still need to repay it.
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