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Student Finance

Postgraduate Loans in Wales 2020

Fancy another year in the university bubble, but not sure if you can afford it? Welsh postgraduate Student Finance is super generous! Here's how it works.

wales welsh flag student

Credit: Positiffy – Shutterstock

If you fancy doing a master's degree but you're not sure whether you can afford it, you're in luck – postgraduate funding for Welsh students is the most generous in the UK!

As of June 2019, you can now receive money in the form of a loan and grant to help cover the cost of your tuition fees and living costs - and grants don't need to be paid back!

Although all students receive the same amount, how much of that you have to pay back depends on your household income – we'll show you exactly how it all works.

We've also got guides for English, Scottish and Northern Irish students looking for postgraduate finance, and Welsh students seeking undergraduate Student Finance.

Eligibility for master's Student Finance in Wales

Welsh flag

Master's degree Student Finance in Wales isn't open to absolutely everyone – there are some criteria you need to meet first. You must be under the age of 60 for a start.

But some of the other eligibility conditions are a bit more complicated, so we've broken them down for you...

Nationality and Residency

  • You must be a UK national or have 'settled status' (that is, no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK)
  • You must normally live in Wales – you can't just move there to study
  • You must have been living in the UK for at least three years before the first day of your course

There are some exceptions to this, for instance, if you're a refugee or relative of one, you're an EEA or Swiss migrant work or relative of one, or the child of a Swiss national or Turkish worker. Check the Student Finance Wales website for full details.

If you studied in Wales for your undergraduate degree, but your family home address is elsewhere in the UK, that does not class as 'normally' resident in Wales, as you were only there for your studies. You should contact the Student Finance provider in your home nation instead, e.g. Student Finance England or the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

Eligible courses

Your master's course must:

  • Be a full, stand-alone course (not a top-up course)
  • Be worth a minimum of 180 credits
  • Start on or after 1st August 2019 (to be eligible for the new student finance package outlined here).

The course can be at a university or college, or a distance learning course, and it can be taught or research-based.

However, if it's a full-time course it must last one-two years, and if it's a part-time course it can last between two-four years.

Examples of eligible courses include:

  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Art (MA)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Master of Research (MRes)
  • Master of Law (LLM)
  • Master of Letters (MLitt)
  • Master of Fine Art (MFA)
  • Master of Education (MEd)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)

If you're studying a distance learning course you must be living in Wales on the first day of your course and in the UK for the duration of your course (unless you're an EU national, in which case you need to be living in Wales for the entire course duration).

Which courses are not eligible?

This funding is not available for integrated courses. If you're on an Integrated master's course (an undergraduate course that runs straight into a master's without you having to reapply), you'll need to apply for undergraduate Student Finance. If you're studying a master's as part of an Integrated Doctoral course, you'll need a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan instead.

Postgraduate Student Finance is also not available for:

  • Postgraduate Doctoral degrees
  • Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) or Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip)
  • Legal Practice Courses (LPC)

One final point! You also won't be eligible for Postgraduate Master's Finance if you already have a master's degree (or a degree of the same or higher level).

Once you've sorted your student finance, you'll need to decide where you're going to live - we weigh up the pros and cons of student halls, student houses and living at home

How much money can you get for master's degrees in Wales?

money 10 pound notes

Following a recent review into Welsh Student Finance, you now receive postgraduate master's funding in the form of both a loan and grant, which goes towards both your course and living costs – up to a maximum of £17,000!

Exactly how much you get depends on your household income:

  • A grant of up to £6,885 and a maximum loan of £10,115 if your household income is £18,370 or below
  • A grant of £1,000 and loan of £16,000 if you choose not to have your household income taken into account* or it's above £59,200.

*Although the paperwork might be more hassle, we'd recommend always declaring your household income if you can as you could be eligible for other grants and funding that you weren't even aware of!

No matter what your household income is, you can still receive the same amount of money, but the lower your income the more of that money you'll receive in grant form (meaning you don't have to pay it back!)

If your household income falls between £18,370 and £59,200, your grant:loan ratio will be calculated on a sliding scale – the higher your household income the smaller your grant (and the bigger your loan).

The table below shows the maximum amount of grant and loan you can receive depending on your household income.

Welsh Postgraduate Loans and Grants 2019/20

Household IncomeGrant Loan

Unlike undergraduate Student Finance, you don't get a set amount per year – your max. £17,000 grant/loan will be spread evenly across the one-four years of your course, as the table below shows.

The following example shows the grant-loan split for a student who has chosen not to have their household income taken into account or has a household income of over £59,200.

Welsh postgraduate Student Finance by course length

Course length (academic years)Year one fundingYear two fundingYear three fundingYear four funding
1Loan: £16,000
Grant: £1,000
2Loan: £8,000
Grant: £500
Loan: £8,000
Grant: £500
3Loan: £5,333
Grant: £333
Loan: £5,333
Grant: £333
Loan: £5,333
Grant: £333
4Loan: £4,000
Grant: £250
Loan: £4,000
Grant: £250
Loan: £4,000
Grant: £250
Loan: £4,000
Grant: £250

Remember, your course can only last up to three-four years if you're studying part-time.

Each year you'll receive your money in three instalments of 33%, 33% and 34% – and it's up to you to budget it carefully!

How to apply for Master's Student Finance in Wales

dog typing online laptop

Credit: Kalamurzing - Shutterstock

Applications for the new package of funding are open from June 2019! Apply online as soon as you're able to – you don't need a confirmed place at university to do so. The process is very simple:

  1. Head to Student Finance Wales to log into your account and submit your application
  2. If you opt to have your household income taken into account, your parents/partner will have to fill in an Assessment of Financial Circumstances form, which is available to download once you submit your application
  3. You'll then need to provide Student Finance Wales with the required evidence so they can assess your household income

When applying, make sure you have your passport, National Insurance number, bank details and university/college details to hand.

Remember, you only have to apply once! If your course lasts more than one year, you don't need to reapply each year like at undergraduate level.

The deadline for applying is within nine months of the first day of the last academic year of your course – use the table below to work out when your deadline would be.

Welsh postgraduate Student Finance deadlines

Course start dateOfficial first day of academic yearApplication deadline
1st August – 31st December1st September1st June
1st January – 31st March1st January1st September
1st April – 30th June1st April1st January
1st July – 31st July1st July1st April

Repaying your Postgraduate Student Loan

graduate money loan

While the grant part of your Student Finance package is free money that you don't have to pay back, you will have to pay back your student loan in instalments over time. Here's a breakdown of the main terms:

  • Your start repayments the April after you finish your course
  • You only start making repayments when your income is over the threshold – currently, £21,000 a year, £1,750 a month or £404 a week
  • You pay back 6% of what you earn over the threshold e.g. On a £28,800 annual salary (or £2,400 monthly wage, which is £196 over the threshold), you pay £39 a month (6% of £196)
  • Payments are taken automatically from your salary each month – and will automatically stop if your salary falls under the threshold. If you're self-employed the money will be deducted when you complete your self-assessment tax return
  • The interest rate on loans is currently 5.4% (RPI + 3%)
  • You can make extra payments to the Student Loans Company if you want to pay back the loan quicker
  • However, your loan will be written off after 30 years – any unpaid money will be wiped!

The table below shows you exactly how much you'll be repaying each month for both your undergraduate and postgraduate Student Loans after you're finished:

Welsh Postgraduate Student Loan repayments

Annual salaryUndergraduate LoanPostgraduate LoanTotal
For more information on how student loan repayments work, check out our complete guide.

Once you've sorted your Student Finance, it's time to start house hunting – here's what you need to look for.


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