Postgraduate loans in Scotland

Dominic Claeys-Jackson, Editor
January, 2017

Loans of up to £10,000 will be available in Scotland from 2017/18, for eligible students taking a taught postgraduate programme up to Masters level

How much can I borrow?

You will be able to borrow any amount up to a maximum of £10,000, with the Scottish postgraduate loan comprising of two components:

  • Living costs - Up to £4,500 will be available, paid to you in instalments throughout your course.
  • Tuition fees - Up to £5,500 will be available, paid to your university in full at the start of your course.

The loan will therefore completely cover tuition fees for many postgraduate courses.

Is my programme eligible for a Scottish postgraduate loan?

All taught postgraduate programmes up to and including Masters degrees are eligible, providing they last no longer than two years and are delivered by a university in Scotland.

Eligible qualifications include:

  • taught Masters degrees, including the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Laws (LLM)
  • postgraduate diplomas and certificates.

Research degrees such as the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and PhD are ineligible, while Master of Research (MRes) courses are eligible only if defined as taught.

While the Scottish postgraduate loan only covers programmes beginning after the 1 August 2017, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) loan is available in the meantime for those studying selected courses up to postgraduate diploma level. The loan is worth up to £8,900 per year.

Am I eligible?

Eligibility rules are slightly more straightforward than England's Masters loan. First and foremost, you must be aged under 60 when your course begins.

If you're a UK national who has lived in the UK for the last three years and will be living in Scotland for a reason other than study when your course begins, you're eligible. Similarly, students from the European Union (EU) are eligible if they've been resident in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for the last three years; however, they must live and study in Scotland, and can only apply for the tuition fee component of the loan.

Details of how to apply for the Scottish postgraduate loan will be revealed in due course.

When will I repay my loan?

Postgraduate debt is combined with any undergraduate debt that you've already incurred in Scotland, and repaid on an income-contingent basis at a rate of 9% on your earnings over £17,495. Interest rates will be linked to inflation via the retail price index (RPI), with interest beginning to accrue once the first loan instalment is paid. You'll begin repayments from the April after you graduate.

If you're a UK national, your employer will take the repayments directly from your wage; or, if you're self-employed, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will calculate how much you must repay on completion of your annual self-assessment tax return. If you're not a UK national, you'll be contacted directly regarding repayments.