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Postgraduate master's loan scheme

If you’re looking for postgraduate funding options, the new proposed government postgraduate loan scheme could be what you have been waiting for. If you're starting a postgraduate course from 1 August 2016 you could borrow up to £10,000 for any master’s programme, in any subject, taught or research in the 2016/17 academic year.

Key points of the scheme:

  • Loans of up to £10,000 are available to students studying eligible master’s courses from September 2016.
  • All subjects and modes of study will be eligible, provided they award a master’s degree.
  • Applicants will need to be UK nationals, resident in England, or EU nationals, resident in the EU.
  • Applicants will need to be aged 60 or under when they begin their course.
  • Loans can be used for a master’s at any UK university.
  • The loan isn’t based on your or your household’s income.
  • The loan will be paid in the first and second academic years of your course. If you’re studying for 2 or more academic years, you’ll get up to £5,000 in your first year and the rest in your second year.
  • Repayments will be made at 6% of income over £21,000.
  • Postgraduate loans will be repaid at the same time as undergraduate loans, but repayments will not begin until 2019.
  • The master’s loans will be introduced in time for the coming 2016-17 academic year. PhD loans are expected in the future, but no date has been announced.


The master’s loan is intended to be a contribution to the cost of an eligible master’s qualification. You can use the loan according to your individual circumstances as a contribution towards the cost of the master’s course tuition fees and/or any other costs associated with your study.

Individual eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the loan you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have been a resident in the UK for at least three years prior to the beginning of your course. You must most recently have been resident in England and must not have moved there from elsewhere in the UK and Islands solely for the purpose of attending the course. Exceptions apply to EU students (see below).
  • EU students will be eligible for the scheme. You will need to have been resident in the European Economic Area (EEA) for at least three years prior to the beginning of your course. Periods of residency that are purely for the purpose of education will not count towards this three year requirement.
  • You must be aged under 60 to be eligible.
  • Your eligibility will not be based on a means test.
  • It is open to individuals who do not already hold a postgraduate or integrated master's (e.g. MEng/MComp/MBio) qualification.

Course eligibility criteria

The following criteria will need to be met with your chosen course:

  • The postgraduate qualification aim must be a master’s qualification, for example MA, MSc, MRes, MBA, MEd and LLM. Taught and research master’s qualifications will be acceptable.
  • The course must be either one or two years full-time or or two to four years part time with no less than 50% intensity in the first academic year i.e. a one year full-time programme must be completed in two years part-time.
  • 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.

Further details regarding eligibility can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Administration of the loan

The loans will be administered through the Student Loans Company, the same company who will have administered your undergraduate degree loan.

The Student Loans Company will pay you directly in three instalments across the academic year during the period of study. The first payment will be released to you once the institution has confirmed your enrolment and attendance. The loan payments will stop if you either change to a course not eligible in the loans scheme or withdraw from study.

The loan will be deducted directly from your salary by HMRC. The Student Loans Company will recover loans directly from those of you who are outside of the UK and its tax system.The loan interest will be calculated at RPI+3% and interest will accrue from the date the first loan instalment is paid by the Student Loans Company to the borrower.

Repayment terms

Repayments will be based on 6% of annual income over £21,000 and will be made alongside undergraduate loans. Repayments will be due to commence in the April after course completion, subject to meeting the annual income threshold.

There will be a one year delay in loan repayment for courses undertaken in academic year 2016/17, for which repayments will commence from April 2019. Borrowers will be able to make voluntary repayments ahead of April 2019 should they wish.

Any outstanding postgraduate master’s loan balance will be written off 30 years after the date the borrower’s loan balance becomes due for repayment.

How to apply

There are a few ways to apply.

If you have taken out a loan with Student Finance England you can use your existing account to apply. Apply here

If you don’t already have an account, set one up by visiting the GOV.UK registration pages.

You can also apply by post, further details regarding application methods can be found on the GOV.UK website.

View the full details of the Government’s consultation about the loans.

View the full details regarding the scheme on the GOV.UK website.