Eligibility

Whether you qualify depends on:

  • your course
  • your age
  • your nationality or residency status

You will not be able to get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if:

  • you’re already getting payments from Student Finance England for another course that you’re studying
  • you’ve received a loan or grant for a master’s course before - unless you got a Disabled Students’ Allowance or you left your course for a serious personal reason like illness or bereavement
  • you already have a master’s degree, or a qualification that’s equivalent or higher
  • you’re behind in repayments for any previous loans from the Student Loans Company

You’ll still be eligible if you have a PGCE or a postgraduate diploma or certificate.

You will not get extra money if you repeat a year of your course.

Your course

It must:

  • be a full, standalone master’s course (not a top-up course)
  • be worth at least 180 credits - check the course provider’s website if you’re not sure
  • have started on or after 1 August 2016

Your course must be provided by an eligible university or college in the UK (including the Open University). Check with the university or college that your course is registered.

Your course can be taught or research-based.

It can be:

  • full-time, lasting 1 or 2 academic years
  • part-time, lasting 2 to 4 academic years - no more than twice the length of the equivalent full-time course
  • part-time for up to 3 years, where no equivalent full-time course exists

Examples of postgraduate master’s qualifications include:

  • MSc (master of science)
  • MA (master of arts)
  • MPhil (master of philosophy)
  • MRes (master of research)
  • LLM (master of law)
  • MLitt (master of letters)
  • MFA (master of fine art)
  • MEd (master of education)
  • MBA (master of business administration)

You cannot get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan for a postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Distance learning

To qualify for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan for distance learning, you’ll need to be living in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course. You’ll also need to live in:

  • England for the whole of your course, if you’re an EU national
  • the UK for the whole of your course, if you’re not an EU national

This usually does not apply if you’re:

  • serving in the armed forces
  • a spouse or civil partner of a serving member of the armed forces
  • a dependent parent living with a serving member of the armed forces

Integrated courses

You will not be eligible for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if your course is:

Intercalated year

You might be eligible for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if you’re taking a year out of an undergraduate course to study for a master’s.

This will generally mean you’re not entitled to undergraduate funding anymore because you’ll hold a higher level qualification.

You are still eligible for undergraduate funding if your course leads to a qualification in:

  • architecture
  • dentistry
  • medicine
  • social work
  • undergraduate Initial Teacher Training
  • veterinary science

Master of architecture

If you plan to study for a master of architecture (MArch Part 2) qualification full-time, apply for undergraduate funding support. Your course must be accredited by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to be eligible.

You can only apply for the Postgraduate Master’s Loan to support your MArch course if one of the following applies:

  • you’re taking a part-time course
  • you’re not eligible for undergraduate funding support
  • the course does not lead to an accredited qualification as an architect

Healthcare and social work

You cannot get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if you:

  • are eligible for an NHS bursary
  • get a Social Work Bursary - unless you only get a Placement Travel Allowance

This also applies for health and social work bursaries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You also cannot get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan if you’re starting a postgraduate pre-registration healthcare course on or after 1 August 2018. You may be eligible for a Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan instead.

Your age

You must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

The academic year is a period of 12 months starting on:

  • 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December
  • 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March
  • 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June
  • 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July

Your nationality or residency status

You can apply for the Postgraduate Master’s Loan if all of the following are true:

  • you’re a UK or Irish national or have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or indefinite leave to remain so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay
  • you normally live in England
  • you’ve been living in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland for 3 continuous years before the first day of your course, apart from temporary absences such as going on holiday

You may also be eligible if you’re a UK national (or family member of a UK national) who either:

  • returned to the UK on or after 1 January 2018 and by 31 December 2020 after living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • was living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein on 31 December 2020 and has been living in the UK, the EU, Gibraltar, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for the past 3 years

If you’re an EU national or a family member of an EU national

You may be eligible if you’re an EU national, or a family member of an EU national, and all the following apply:

  • you have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • you’ve normally lived in the UK, Gibraltar, EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’)
  • you’ll be studying at a university or college in England

You could also be eligible if you’re:

  • the child of a Swiss national and you and your parent have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • a migrant worker from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein with pre-settled status, or a family member of a migrant worker where both have pre-settled status
  • a resident of Gibraltar who is a UK or EU national, or their family member

Student finance for EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic or Liechtenstein nationals from August 2021

If you’re starting a course on or after 1 August 2021, you must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get student finance.

You need to have started living in the UK before 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If you’re coming to the UK from 1 January 2021, you may need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme. They can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to, for example, to apply on behalf of a child.

If you have a different residency status

You may also be eligible if your residency status is one of the following:

  • refugee (including family members)
  • humanitarian protection (including family members)
  • child of a Turkish worker who has permission to stay in the UK - you and your Turkish worker parent must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • a stateless person (including family members)
  • an unaccompanied child granted ‘Section 67 leave’ under the Dubs Amendment
  • a child who is under the protection of someone granted ‘Section 67 leave’, who is also allowed to stay in the UK for the same period of time as the person responsible for them (known as ‘leave in line’)
  • granted ‘Calais leave’ to remain
  • a child of someone granted ‘Calais leave’ to remain, who is also allowed to stay in the UK for the same period of time as their parent (known as ‘leave in line’)
  • you’ve been given settled status but not under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • you’ve been given indefinite leave to remain because you’ve been the victim of domestic violence
  • you’ve been granted indefinite leave to remain as a bereaved partner
  • you’re the family member of a person of Northern Ireland and you have pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you’re a non-UK national and have lived in the UK for a certain number of years

You could also be eligible if you’re not a UK national and are either:

  • under 18 and have lived in the UK for at least 7 years
  • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years (or at least half of your life)

You must have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 continuous years before the first day of your course.