When it comes to deciding if a postgraduate course if for you, a key question to answer is whether or not you can get a student loan for it. A masters is an advanced academic degree that takes place at the postgraduate level. It builds upon existing undergraduate qualifications and unlike a bachelor’s course, a master’s degree is much more varied. When completing a master’s degree, students have more opportunity to study part-time or distance learn.
The good news is that you can indeed get a student loan for a master’s degree. Master’s students can apply for student loans of up to £11,836 to pay for their courses. The repayment is 6% of your income over £21,000. Until your salary is more than that amount you won’t have to repay the loan. To successfully get a student loan there are several different eligibility criteria that you’ll have to meet.
Whilst this may have given you a short summary, keep reading this article to get an explanation of how master’s degree student loans and other relevant loans work.
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What criteria do you have to meet to get a student loan for a master’s degree?
If you’re looking to get a student loan for a master’s degree, you must first make sure that you meet the eligibility criteria. Below all of the criteria is listed:
- You must be under 60 – you are not eligible for the loan if you are 60 years of age or older on the first day of the academic year.
- It must be a full master’s course – technically, this means a level 7 qualification worth 180 credits. Postgraduate diplomas are usually 120 or 60 credits and therefore don’t count.
- This must be your first master’s degree – you won’t be eligible for the loan if you already hold a master’s degree or another higher qualification, even if it wasn’t from a UK university.
- It should be a one or two-year master’s course – or if you’re studying part-time then the course must be a maximum four-year course. You can also get the loan if you’re on a three-year part-time course if there is no full-time equivalent.
- This must be your only funding from the UK government – You won’t be eligible for the postgraduate loan if you are able to apply for a bursary in its place, such as a healthcare bursary from the NHS, a social work bursary from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), or a bursary from Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). You are however still eligible if you have a scholarship.
- You must be a UK national living in England – you must have lived in the UK for at least three years before your course starts to qualify. You may also be able to get the loan if you’re an EU national, you’ve been living in the EU for the past three years, you’ll live in England when your course starts, and you’ll be studying at an English university or college. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have slightly different rules when it comes to student loans.
How do you get a student loan for a master’s degree?
If you meet the eligibility criteria, then you can apply for a student loan via the gov.uk Student Finance England page. If you’ve already taken out a loan with Student Finance England before for undergraduate study then you can use that same account to apply.
There are certain deadlines that may be applicable to applying for your loan, depending on the dates of your academic year. To find out when you should apply for student finance, take a look at this Think Student article.
The amount you’ll get isn’t based on your family’s income or your own. You can decide how much you want to apply for (up to the limit) and the loan is paid directly to you. You can use it for your course fees and living costs. If your course is more than a year, the loan will be distributed equally throughout each year of the course.
Can you get a maintenance loan for a master’s degree?
No, there isn’t a postgraduate maintenance loan. The Master’s degree loan system works in a different way to undergraduate student finance, which does have a maintenance element. Postgraduate student finance is provided as one loan, which you can use to help with tuition and/or living costs.
The cost of a master’s degree can vary, and your postgraduate loan isn’t guaranteed to necessarily cover all your tuition fees plus living costs. The funding is instead provided as a ‘contribution to the cost’ of a master’s degree. You can however combine a postgraduate loan with some other funding. Have a look to see what scholarships you could apply for, there are quite a wide range of opportunities available.
If you want any tips for budgeting as a student, have a look at this Think Student article.
Can you get a student loan for a second master’s degree?
If you have already received a loan for a previous master’s degree, you cannot apply for another one. This is regardless of whether you passed the course or not.
Similarly, you are not eligible to apply for an English Masters loan if you have already received a UK postgraduate loan. This still applies even if your prior loan was for a non-master’s course.
If you previously started a master’s degree and didn’t complete it, and didn’t receive a student loan for it, you can apply for a loan to study a new course.