You’ve powered through the sleepless nights of last minute revision. You’ve scrutinised coursework and pored over textbooks. You’ve battled through every challenge your degree could throw at you. Now, you’re a graduate wondering what comes next.
In this article, we’re going to sources of postgraduate funding. As with applying for an undergraduate degree, loans are often the first step to further studies. So, let’s look at the options and find out which is right for you.
A Quick Intro to Postgraduate Loans
Postgraduate loans work in much the same way as undergraduate loans. It means the application process will be very familiar to anybody who’s recently completed their studies. It comes from the same source – Student Finance England – so all previous and future applications are handled by the same organisation. That is, provided you apply for a standard publicly funded tuition loan.
The loan amount depends on the type of degree, the applicant’s circumstances and any personal needs. For instance, if you are disabled or have issues which make studying challenging, you may be eligible for a tuition loan and a maintenance grant to help with your living expenses.
Postgraduate students (with no additional needs) are entitled to a tuition loan of up to £11, 222. The amount normally matches the specific cost of a year’s study. For example, if the inaugural year of your Masters degree costs £3,012, this specific amount is likely to be awarded.
Students are expected to make monthly repayments on tuition loans only after earning £21,000 per annum. Until your wage reaches this point, you do not pay anything.
How Much Money Will I Get to Fund My Masters?
Let’s clear up an issue which confuses some postgraduate applicants. There is no maintenance grant as there is for undergraduates. You can’t apply for a ‘living’ loan that is sent on to your place of residence to cover rent (for instance). It doesn’t exist at this level.
Instead, postgraduate students have the power to borrow any sum up to that £11,222 maximum already mentioned. Say each year of postgraduate study costs £3,012. Your Masters degree lasts for two years with a total cost of £6,024. If you were to apply for the maximum loan amount, you would be left with a £5,198 surplus.
This surplus is yours to spend on living costs, textbooks and other expenses across the two years. In each year of study, £3,012 will be allocated to your tuition. £2,599 will be awarded to you to use as you see it.
To reiterate, the specific amounts awarded to each individual depends on how much the individual requests in their application.
We want you to be clear on how this works. Interest is due on the total amount. Consider whether you need extra money for living costs. If you don’t, reduce the amount to be repaid by applying for just the tuition fee.
However much you apply for, the total amount is split between all the years of your postgraduate degree. This is further split into three equal payments during each year. For a two year Masters course, this makes six equal loan payments.
Maintenance and support grants for students with learning difficulties or complex needs are not really ‘loans’ at all. In the vast majority of cases, those deemed eligible do not need to replay them.
Am I Definitely Eligible for a Postgraduate Loan?
You are definitely eligible for a postgraduate loan if you fulfil the following criteria:
- You are a UK citizen (or have leave to live and study in the UK).
- You must be 59 years old or younger on the first day of term.
- This is your first attempt at a Masters degree (or higher level qualification).
- Your course must be recognised as a standard Masters (top up courses, integrated degrees and shorter postgraduate certificates and diplomas do not count).
- Your Masters course must last for at least one year and not more than four years.
Depending on circumstances, postgraduate loans can be combined with other sources of funding such as scholarships and charitable grants. The exception is students who are in receipt of additional funding already, particularly if it’s from the government (NHS bursary, Research Council funding, etc).
To find out whether you can apply for multiple sources of funding, get in touch with Student Finance England.
There are no subject restrictions associated with postgraduate loans. If your course is en eligible Masters, you’re free to study whatever you desire.
Will Student Finance Ever Change My Loan?
The only time Student Finance should amend your payments is if you have personally requested a change. You can do this by submitting a loan request form. Please be aware forms are only valid up to nine months PRIOR to the first day of your last term.
So, if you wish to decrease or increase the total loan amount, a request form must be submitted relatively early in your first year.
You may notice the tuition fee for your course changes each year. Due to inflation, most university courses increase by a small amount year on year. The good news is, as an active student, you pay only the amount agreed to in the original application. Inflation should not affect your tuition fee unless you’ve stopped studying and then reapplied for some reason.
When Will I Get My First Loan Payment?
Loan payments are awarded at the same three points in every academic year.
- On the first day of term (or as soon as your first attendance has been registered).
- On the final Wednesday of the 4th month of term.
- On the final Wednesday of the 7th month of term.
The money is paid directly into applicants’ bank accounts. It is up to you to make sure the tuition fee is sent on to your university.
Can I Apply for a Postgraduate Loan If I Am Working?
Postgraduate loans in the UK are not means tested. It doesn’t matter how much money you have already or whether you’re working alongside your studies. You can still apply for the same amount as anybody else.
Regardless of how much you borrow or what you study, you will not be asked to make repayments until you earn over £21,000 per year. If you’re earning this much money at the time of graduation, you will be eligible for repayments only after the first April following graduation.
Repayments are 6% of monthly earnings for postgraduates earning less than £25,727 per annum. Contributions rise to 9% of earnings for postgrads on a higher wage than this.