Masters loans are available in 2020/21 to help fund your postgraduate course as well as any associated living costs

English postgraduate loans at a glance

  • Borrow up to £11,222 in 2020/21.
  • For UK nationals ordinarily resident in England.
  • Study a taught or research Masters course.
  • Attend any UK university.
  • Separate loans if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

How much can I borrow?

For courses starting in 2020/21 you can get an English postgraduate loan of up to £11,222 towards your tuition fees, study costs and living expenses. This is a 2.9% increase on the maximum loan amount for the 2019/20 academic year, which was set at £10,906.

The loan is not means-tested, meaning the amount you can receive does not depend on your financial background. You can choose how much you want to borrow, up to the maximum.

Am I eligible for a postgraduate loan?

You must:

  • be a UK national or have settled status
  • normally live in England
  • have lived in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the past three years
  • be under the age of 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • not already have a Masters degree or higher qualification.

If you're a European Union (EU) national, you're eligible if you:

  • live in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • have normally lived in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for the past three years
  • study at a university in England.

You may also be eligible if you're a refugee (or a relative of one), an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, a child of a Swiss national or the child of a Turkish worker, if you're under humanitarian protection, or if you're 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half of your life.

If you can't get a postgraduate loan, consider other sources of funding.

Is my course eligible?

Your course should be a full standalone taught or research Masters degree studied at a UK university, or by distance learning. If you study by distance learning you must be living in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course, and live in the UK for the whole of your course.

Full-time courses should take one or two academic years to complete. Part-time courses can be up to four years, but no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time programme - or a maximum of three years if no equivalent full-time course is available.

You can't get an English postgraduate loan for postgraduate diplomas (PGDip) or postgraduate certificates (PGCert). This means they're not on offer for those studying the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to qualify as a solicitor - or for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course.

Separate PhD loans are available for Doctoral-level study.

Courses that qualify for undergraduate funding, such as integrated Masters and the Master of Architecture (MArch), are not eligible for postgraduate loans. This applies to teacher training. You also can't get a postgraduate loan if you're eligible for NHS funding or a Social Work Bursary.

The loan can only be used for full Masters courses, not to top-up a lower-level qualification (such as a PGDip or PGCert) to a Masters.

How do I apply for a postgraduate loan?

Apply for an English postgraduate loan online by visiting GOV.UK. Only apply once for your entire course, not each academic year. Paper application forms are available from Student Finance England if you can't apply online.

You can apply from the summer before your course starts. However, the final deadline for applications is not until nine months after the first day of the last academic year of your course - meaning you can apply even after your course has started.

The academic year is defined as a period of 12 months from 1 September (if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December) or 1 January (if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March).

To apply, you'll need details of your UK passport or, if you don't have one, your birth/adoption certificate. You may also be asked for evidence of your residency status.

How will I receive my loan?

Your loan will be paid directly into your bank account. You'll get three instalments over the course of the academic year, with each payment being made at the start of term.

If you're studying for longer than one year, the funding will be split evenly across the length of your course. For example, if you borrow the full amount for a two-year course you'll receive £5,611 for each academic year, with this divided into three instalments across the first year, and the same again for the second.

When do I start repaying my postgraduate loan?

You'll start repaying your postgraduate loan in the April after your course finishes at a rate of 6% of any income you earn over £21,000.

If you're employed, deductions will be made directly from your salary. If you're self-employed HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will calculate your repayments on completion of your self-assessment tax return.

Interest will be charged on your loan from the date you receive your first instalment. This will be calculated at the retail price index (RPI) +3%, meaning that the interest accrued will be the annually-reviewed RPI percentage, plus an additional 3%.

If you leave your course or switch to an ineligible course, you'll have to repay what you have borrowed so far and the income threshold will not apply - you must start repaying straight away.

Postgraduate loans have to be repaid concurrently with your undergraduate student loan. This means that you may find yourself repaying up to 15% of your income, i.e. 9% for your undergraduate loan and 6% for your postgraduate loan.

Any outstanding balance remaining 30 years after you entered repayment will be cancelled.

Find out more

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