NEW Masters Loan Scheme - Q and A

What is the Postgraduate Loan Scheme?
A new scheme for England was introduced for academic year 2016/17 and enabled many master's students to take out a loan of up to £10,000. For academic year 2017/18 the amount is now £10,280

The information here is for UK and EU citizens normally resident in England.

If you are a UK national BUT you normally live in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland please see the relevant country pages.

So, what should I do first?
Choose a Masters course! As part of the application process you will be asked to submit details of your intended degree and university and this will be checked against a database of courses to confirm eligibility.

Although you don't actually have to have applied for a Masters before you apply for a loan, you will need to be registered on one before you receive any payments.

You can search hundreds of Masters course here on MastersCompare, and compare your findings to find the right postgraduate course for you.

You will qualify for the loan if:

1. You are under 60 years old, AND

2. If you are a UK National, or have settled status in the UK, and have been resident in the UK for three years on the first day of the academic year of your course start date. You must have most recently been resident in England in order to qualify. You will be asked to provide 3 years address history when you apply for the loan. If you've been out of the UK temporarily for travel or study, during that period, you don't lose your eligibility

3. EU students applying for a place at English universities for the academic year 2017/18 will be eligible for the loan if all the following apply: you’ve normally lived in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’) and you’ll be studying at a university or college in England

You may also be eligible if you have the status of:
• Refugee
• Humanitarian Protection
• EEA or Swiss Migrant Worker
• A family member of any of the previous categories
• A child of a Swiss National or child of a Turkish Worker

What if I'm earning already - can I still apply?
Yes you can. It doesn't matter if you are earning or not, or how much you earn - the loan is not means tested.
The Postgraduate Loan and the Disabled Students Allowance
It's important to note that the Disabled Students Allowance , if you qualify for it, is available IN ADDITION TO the Postgraduate Loan.
Does the loan cover ALL courses?
1. The loan applies to all 'full' master's qualifications including those that are taught, research, or professional masters - eg MA, MSc, MRes, MBA, LLM, MMus, MDes, MEd, etc. There are some exceptions as detailed below.

2. The loan applies to master's courses that are full-time (lasting 1 or 2 academic years),
part-time - lasting 2 to 4 academic years and no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time course) and part-time - up to 3 years, where no equivalent full-time course exists.

3. The loan covers both campus based and online courses provided by an institution which is authorised to award its own master's degrees in the UK (which means it must have 'taught degree awarding powers'). In practice this means most UK universities and some other UK institutions as well.

You will not be eligible if you already have a master's level qualification, or a higher postgraduate qualification, such as a PhD

Which postgraduate courses ARE NOT eligible for the loan?
PGCEs, other postgraduate diplomas and certificates, and graduate certificates are NOT covered because they are not at full master's level.

The Postgraduate Loan is not available for any integrated master’s course, and you should instead apply for undergraduate funding.

If you plan to study for a master of architecture (MArch) qualification full-time, you should apply for undergraduate support. The Postgraduate Loan will only be available for an MArch if you’re either taking a part-time course or aren’t eligible for undergraduate funding for another reason.

Health and social work bursaries - You can’t get a Postgraduate Loan if you are eligible for an NHS bursary or have been awarded a Social Work Bursary. This also applies for health and social work bursaries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

How does the money work - what about the practicalities?
1. The Student Loans Company (who administer the undergraduate loan) will also administer the masters loan. They will calculate interest from the date when you are sent the first loan instalment.

2. If you have started your course in 2016/17 you will not start repayments until April 2019: this means that you get an extra year before you start repayments.

4. AND if you earn less than £21,000 you will only start repayments once your income reaches that level.

5. If you start in 2017/18 or after, you won't start repayments until the April after you complete your course.

6. The money will be paid to you in 3 instalments during the year as you study - and you will get the first payment once you have enrolled on your course and the university has confirmed this.

7. Loan interest will be RPI+3%. Once you start repayments, the repayment rate is set at 6% of income above the £21,000 income threshold.

Do I have to pay this loan at the same time as my undergraduate loan?
Yes - you'll have to pay them both off at the same time once your income reaches the set level, rather than one after the other.
What if I change my mind or don't carry on with my master's?
If you stop your master's or change to a course that doesn't qualify for the loan, you'll still be liable for the loan you have taken.
Are there plans for a PhD Loan scheme?
A PhD loan has been announced in the 2015 budget. The government ran a public consultation in late 2016. For the latest details of the proposed doctoral loan, see here.
Further information?
We will post updates on this page - we'd also suggest you talk to the universities you are applying to. And, to make sure you get regular updates on the loan and other master's funding, register to receive our weekly newsletter.

You can also check out the latest info from Student Finance England

Looking for a Masters course or funding?
- Apply for your chance to win our £5000 Masters Scholarship

- Search and compare Masters courses here on MastersCompare to find the right postgraduate course for you.

- Find Masters funding on PostgraduateStudentships from universities, charities and other funders