Postgraduate Loan - Wales (& EU)

Postgraduate Loan (Wales)

The Welsh Government, via Student Finance Wales (SFW) has introduced a new postgraduate loan scheme for Masters degrees, which will also be available for the 2017/2018 academic session. The loan will be a contribution towards the costs of study and it will be at the student's discretion to use the loan towards fees, maintenance costs, or other costs. Students must be domiciled in Wales (see below). There is also provision for (non-UK) EU students. 

The information below is based on information that has already been released by the Welsh Government. Further details will be available on the Student Finance Wales site this spring and the application process should be open in the summer, so we recommend that you continue to check these pages for further updates. 

The key facts

  • You can apply for a loan up to the value of £10,280 (for 2017-2018). For 2018-2019, the limit wil be £13,000. 
  • The loan is available for Masters degrees (for example: MA, MSc, LLM, MBA, MPhil and MRes) in all subject areas.
  • The loan is available for full-time, part-time (subject to a minimum 50% intensity requirement) and (fixed-length) distance learning courses (subject to certain conditions including a minimum 50% intensity requirement).
  • Any postgraduate loan balance is repayable and includes interest charged.

Eligibility overview* 

  • The loan is available to UK nationals and those with settled status in the UK who have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for three years on the first day of their course. Students must be normally and most recently resident in Wales and not moved there from elsewhere in the UK and Islands just to study (three years' address history will be required at application stage). Temporary absences abroad for study or travel should not impact on eligibility for a postgraduate loan.
  • A postgraduate loan will also be available if you are an EU student who has been ordinarily resident in the EEA / Switzerland for the three years prior to the first academic year start date.
  • You may also be eligible if you have the residency status of: refugee; humanitarian protection; EEA or Swiss migrant worker; a family member of any of the previous categories, or are a child of a Swiss national or child of a Turkish worker.
  • You must be under the age of 60 at the start of the first academic year of your course.
  • Eligible courses must start on or after 1 August 2017. 
  • Eligible UK students can attend an eligible course anywhere in the UK or study an eligible distance learning course while resident in Wales. 
  • Eligible EU students must be attending a course being delivered in Wales, or be undertaking a distance learning course delivered in Wales.  
  • Students who already hold a Masters qualification (or an equivalent or higher-level qualification) will not be eligible for the loan.

* Please note that this is subject to eligibility criteria as set out by Student Finance Wales.

Students from England, Scotland or Northern Ireland

If you are English, Scottish and Northern Irish, but normally live in Wales, you will be able to apply for a postgraduate loan (subject to meeting all of the eligibility criteria). 

Separate schemes will be available for students domciled in England, Scotland and in Northern Ireland. 

What about part-time courses?

If your course is longer than one year you can get up to £5,140 in your first year and the rest in your second year. If you're studying part-time you can only get payments in the first two years of your course.

What about distance-learning?

Please note that our distance-learning Masters courses are designed to be flexible and studied between 2 and 5 years. Most students are in employment and take at least 4 years to complete. 

The University would have to report to the SLC on the attendance and intensity of study of each student receiving a PG Study Loan. As we cannot guarantee that students would be able to complete within the 2-year period and hence meet the minimum 50% study intensity required by the SLC, our current distance-learning Masters courses are not eligible for these loans. 

Could this loan be used for a PGCert or a PG Dip?

No. Postgraduate loans are only available for full Masters degree programmes.

Could the loan be used for a PGCE course?

No. Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Teacher Training courses are not eligible for Masters loans. It may be possible to fund certain courses through Student Finance Wales using a similar system to undergraduate degrees.

Can I use this loan for a postgraduate research programme?

You can now receive a loan to study a postgraduate research programme, provided it awards a Masters degree and lasts no longer than two years full time. This may include MPhil and LLM by Research programmes, but will not cover PhD degrees.

Can I study outside of the UK?

If you are a UK national, you can receive a postgraduate loan to attend an eligible course in the UK or study an eligible distance learning course while resident in Wales.

You can still receive a loan to study a Masters that includes an overseas placement or exchange, provided this does not account for more than 50% of your course.

Can I combine a PG loan with other funding?

Yes, in principle. Receiving other postgraduate funding or finance should have no impact on your eligibility for a postgraduate Masters loan. This is because the loans are not means-tested (as above). At Aberystwyth University, we would not treat any loan the same as we would a bursary, so you could for example hold an Aber-grad Scholarship (i.e. our AU loyalty discount) and still get a PG Loan from Student Finance Wales. 

How will the loan be paid?

Loan payments will be made directly to students by the Student Loans Company. You will then be responsible for using the money to meet tuition fees and other expenses as you see fit. The loan is paid in three instalments across the academic year. You will receive the first instalment of your loan payment when the university confirms your attendance on your course.

What about repayment of the loan?

These details are yet to be finalised by Student Finance Wales but the following should give you a rough idea: 

  • Repayment of your postgraduate loan is on an income-contingent basis.
  • You won't start making repayments until you're earning over the current threshold of £404 a week, £1,750 a month or £21,000 a year.
  • Repayments will be set at 6% of your annual income over £21,000.
  • Loans will be subject to an interest rate of RPI+3%.
  • If you're studying full time you'll start making repayments the April after you finish or leave your course. If you're studying part time, you'll start making repayments the April two years after the start of your course or the April after you finish or leave your course, whichever comes first. However, for courses commencing in 2017/18, you will not be required to make repayments until April 2020.
  • Any outstanding postgraduate loan will be written off after 30 years.

I already have a student loan for my UG studies

If you've had any other loans from the Student Loans Company for your undergraduate course, you'll also repay these loans.

For example, if you took a loan for your undergraduate course that started after 1 September 2012, you'll repay 9% of your income over £21,000 towards that loan and 6% of your income over £21,000 towards your postgraduate loan. So you'll repay 15% of your income over the threshold in total.

Cessation of or failure to complete Masters course

Payment of your postgraduate loan will be subject to confirmation of attendance provided by the University. Loan instalments will cease if you exit your programme early, do not study at 50% intensity or transfer to a different course that is not eligible for a Masters loan. You would still have to re-pay what you have borrowed from the SLC.

How do I apply for the loan?

Bookmark and regularly check the Student Finance Wales website for the latest information on the postgraduate loan and details of how to apply. more information will be available in the Spring and the applications process will commence in the Summer.