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A full guide to postgraduate loans

Kim Staples
Written by  Kim Staples
Vanessa Tsai
Reviewed by  Vanessa Tsai
5 min read
Updated: 22 Mar 2024

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What is a postgraduate loan?

A postgraduate loan is just a type of student loan, designed for masters or doctorate students to support you while you study.

Like undergraduate loans, they’re provided by the Student Loans Company, and you can apply via Gov.uk.

This is different from graduate loans, which are borrowed from other lenders such as banks.

Am I eligible for a postgraduate loan?

In England and Wales, you’re eligible if:

  • You are a British citizen, or have lived in England or Wales for three years on the first day of your course

  • You are under 60 years old on the first day of your course

  • You’re studying a full master’s course – a level 7 qualification worth 180 credits

  • The course is no longer than four years

  • This is your first post-graduate master’s qualification (and you don’t have another higher qualification, such as a PhD)

  • You have no other funding for the course, such as a bursary

  • You aren’t behind in repayments for other Student Loans Company loans

You may also be eligible with a different residency status – such as if you’re an EU national or relative of one, a refugee, or have settled status. Check the full eligibility criteria on Gov.uk.

How much can I borrow as a postgraduate loan?

The amount you can borrow as a postgraduate loan depends on the year you started your course, and in Wales it also depends on your household income.

Along with the loan, you may also qualify for a grant or bursary.

Postgraduate Master’s Loans

You can borrow up to:

  • £12,167 if your course starts on or after 1st August 2023

  • £11,836 if your course started between 1st August 2022 and 31st July 2023

  • £11,570 if your course started between 1st August 2021 and 31st July 2022

Postgraduate Doctoral Loans

You can borrow up to:

  • £28,673 if your course starts on or after 1st August 2023

  • £27,892 if your course started between 1st August 2022 and 31st July 2023

  • £27,265 if your course started between 1st August 2021 and 31st July 2022

What is the interest rate on postgraduate loans?

The interest rate on postgraduate loans is usually 3% plus the RPI rate of inflation. However, in March 2023, the government capped the rate of interest, as the RPI was particularly high.

That means the current interest rate is 7.7%.

How do I pay back a postgraduate loan?

Repayments on postgraduate loans kick in when you’re earning above £1,750 per month. That’s £403 per week, or £21,000 per year.

6% of all your earnings above that threshold are automatically taken out of your pay and go towards paying the loan off.

Because it comes directly out via payroll when you’re paid, you don’t need to do anything – it’s all taken care of for you.

Is a postgraduate loan ever written off?

Yes, it can be written off.

If you never earn above the £21,000pa threshold, you’ll never need to pay anything back.

And even if you do start paying it, all remaining debt will be written off after 30 years.

What are my other options?

Postgraduate loans from the government aren’t the only way to finance your studies. Other sources are available, including studentships, bursaries, grants, and in some cases funding from your employer. For instance, the NHS often funds healthcare-related masters and doctorate courses to help further your career.

You can find other types of funding via Scholarship Search or Prospects.

If you’re not eligible for anything, you also have the option of taking out a personal loan to support yourself. Just bear in mind that doing so comes with more risks than most student funding.

As a student, you’re also eligible for a number of other financial products – read about them here.

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