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Funding postgraduate study: Bank loans

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) are one of the most common ways of funding postgraduate study and with the potential to cover up to 80% of course fees, they are an option worth investigating...

Provided by Barclays and The Co-operative banks PCDLs are loans which help students with the cost of their postgraduate course, the best part being that for the duration of your course and for one month afterwards the government pays the interest.

Am I eligible to apply for a loan?

To qualify for a PCDL you must:

  • be aged 18 or over;
  • have been living in the UK for a least three years before your course starts;
  • live and train in the UK and intend to work in the UK, EU, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland once training is complete.

Further information can be obtained from either of the banks, by calling the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900 or from GOV.UK - Professional and Career Development Loans .

Instances where PCDLs can't be used include:

  • for a foundation or access course;
  • for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL);
  • for courses from a learning provider in the European Union (EU);
  • if you have savings over £16,000.

How do I apply for a PCDL?

Photo: Piggy bank on coins

Before applying check that your course provider is registered for the PCDL scheme. If so you'll need to:

  • apply in advance as banks can take up to three months to process applications;
  • fill in the necessary application forms and agree the loan amount with your bank.

If your application is successful you will receive a credit agreement and a Course Start Notification form. Funds will be released once you start your course. You can only apply to one bank at once, but if you get turned down by the first, you can then submit an application to the second.

How much can I borrow?

PCDLs provide £300 to £10,000 for students to fund up to two years of their postgraduate course (three if the course includes work experience), and it's up to you to agree the exact amount with your loan provider.

The loan is split into course fees and living costs and can be used to pay for 80% of your course fees plus related costs such as books, travel and childcare.

If you have been unemployed for three months or longer prior to your course beginning, you can apply for the full cost of your course fees. If you're employed for less than 30 hours a week you can also apply for money to cover living costs.

If your course is longer than two years, you can only use a PCDL to fund part of it. In this situation be smart and arrange your loan so that it covers the final two years of the course to ensure you don't have to make repayments until you've finished training. Similarly, if you've received a grant which covers part of your course fees, your PCDL will only cover the remaining cost of your course, plus living costs.

When do I need to pay it back?

You pay nothing on the loan while you are studying and begin the repayment process once your course has finished. You will agree an individual repayment plan with the bank prior to the loan being processed, which is normally over the course of a number of years. Interest rates for repayments are set at a fixed rate which is competitive with other loans.

When agreeing the size of the loan with the bank be realistic and don't borrow more than you can afford to repay. You'll have to repay the loan even if you don't complete your course so it's important to be committed.

 
 
Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
Date: 
September 2014
 
 
 

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