Loans of up to £5,500 are available towards tuition fees for Northern Ireland-resident students taking postgraduate study in the UK
Northern Irish postgraduate loans at a glance
- Borrow up to £5,500 in 2019/20.
- For Masters, PGDip or PGCert courses.
- Paid directly to your university to cover tuition fees.
- For UK or Irish nationals resident in Northern Ireland.
- Study at any UK university.
How much can I borrow?
Northern Irish postgraduate loans are available to help you cover the cost of tuition fees. The maximum amount available in 2019/20 is £5,500. This support isn't means-tested, so the amount you receive is not based on your financial background.
However, if tuition fees for your course are lower than £5,500, you won't be able to borrow the full amount - only enough to cover your fees. If your fees are higher than the maximum, you'll need to find other sources of funding to pay the difference.
Loan amounts for 2020/21 have not been released yet, so be sure to keep up to date with Student Finance NI.
Am I eligible for a Northern Irish postgraduate loan?
- be a UK or Irish national or have settled status
- normally live in Northern Ireland
- have lived in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the three years prior to the first day of the first academic year of your course.
There is no upper or lower age limit for Northern Irish postgraduate loans.
You can apply even if you already hold a postgraduate qualification, but not if you have previously received a postgraduate loan from Student Finance NI.
If you're a European Union (EU) national, you're eligible if you:
- live in Northern Ireland on the first day of your course
- have lived in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for the last three years
- study your postgraduate course at a Northern Irish university.
You may also be able to get a loan if you're a refugee (or a relative of one), have been granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK, are an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, a child of a Swiss national or the child of a Turkish worker.
Is my course eligible?
Taught and research Masters courses, postgraduate certificates (PGCert) and postgraduate diplomas (PGDip) studied at a UK university are eligible for loans. You can study full time, part time or via distance learning.
You can't get a Northern Irish postgraduate loan for courses lasting more than three years. Loans are also not available for postgraduate Doctoral degrees, Masters degrees that are part of a Doctoral degree and postgraduate courses that are eligible for undergraduate support.
How do I apply?
Apply for a Northern Irish postgraduate loan by logging in or creating an account on Student Finance NI. As well as completing the online form, you'll have to send them any evidence they request (such as proof of identity) and sign a declaration.
A paper application form is available for anyone who can't apply online.
You'll need your university and course details and your National Insurance number. You can make your application before your place at university is confirmed - if you change your course, you can update the details later.
It's possible to apply once you've started your course, up to nine months after the first day of the academic year. If your course lasts more than one year you have to submit an application for each year separately.
How will I receive my loan?
The loan will be paid directly to your university on your behalf once your attendance is confirmed, in three instalments spread evenly throughout the academic year.
If you borrow the full £5,500, the university will receive:
- all the money in one year if it's a one-year course
- £2,750 each academic year if it's a two-year course
- £1,833 in each of the first two years and £1,834 in the final year if it's a three-year course.
When do I start repaying my loan?
You'll start repaying your loan in the April after you've finished or left your course, as long as your income is at least £17,775 per year, £1,481 per month or £341 per week. Bear in mind that this income threshold changes each year. Your repayments will be 9% of your income above the threshold.
Northern Irish postgraduate loans are combined with undergraduate student loans for repayment purposes, so you'll make a single monthly or weekly payment of 9% of your income above the threshold, not two separate payments.
If you leave your course early and your loan has already been paid to your university, you'll have to repay the amount that has been overpaid regardless of your income.
Interest will be charged on your postgraduate loan from the day the first instalment is paid to the university.