Postgraduate Loans in Wales 2021
Studying for a master's in Wales? You could be entitled to as much as £17,489 in Postgraduate Student Finance. Here's the key info about what Student Loans and grants are available.
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.
Thanks to changes back in 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 (the best bit!) 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.
What's in this guide?
Eligibility for Postgraduate Master's Finance in Wales
Student Finance in Wales isn't open to absolutely every postgraduate student – 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 eligibility criteria
To qualify for Postgraduate Master's Finance in Wales, you must:
- Be a UK national or have 'settled status' (i.e. no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK)
- Normally live in Wales and haven't just moved there for uni
- 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 example, you could also be eligible if:
- You're a Republic of Ireland national
- You're a refugee or relative of one
- Or, you're the child of a Swiss national or Turkish worker.
Check the Student Finance Wales website for full details to see if you qualify for the funding.
If you studied in Wales for your undergraduate degree, but your family home address is elsewhere in the UK, that does not qualify 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 for the Postgraduate Loan
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 to two years, and if it's a part-time course it can last between two to 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 for postgraduate funding?
Postgraduate Master's Finance in Wales 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).
How much money can you get as a Postgraduate Loan?
Good news: in Wales, you can receive postgraduate master's funding in the form of both a loan and grant, up to a maximum of £17,489 (more than you can get in the rest of the UK!). This money goes towards both your course fees and living costs.
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 a 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-to-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 2020/21
|Household Income||Maximum grant||Maximum loan|
Unlike undergraduate Student Finance, you don't get a set amount per year – the maximum £17,489 grant/loan will be spread evenly across the years of your course, as the table below shows.
The following example shows the grant-to-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 funding||Year two funding||Year three funding||Year four funding|
Remember, your course can only last up to 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
The application process for postgraduate Student Finance in Wales is very simple:
- Head to Student Finance Wales to log into your account and submit your application.
- 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.
- You'll then need to provide Student Finance Wales with the required evidence so they can assess your household income.
Applications for 2020/21 funding are now open. Apply online as soon as you're able to – you don't need a confirmed place at university to do so.
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 date||Official first day of academic year||Application deadline|
|1st August – 31st December||1st September||1st June|
|1st January – 31st March||1st January||1st September|
|1st April – 30th June||1st April||1st January|
|1st July – 31st July||1st July||1st April|
Repaying your Postgraduate Student 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 things to know about repaying your Postgraduate Student Loan:
- You 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 so, for example, on a £28,800 annual salary (£2,400 monthly wage, which is £650 above the threshold), you pay £39 a month as this is 6% of £650.
- 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 Postgraduate Loans is currently 5.6% (RPI + 3%).
- You can make extra payments to the Student Loans Company if you want to pay back the loan quicker, but your loan will be written off after 30 years – any unpaid money will be wiped.
It's worth noting that, while your undergraduate and postgraduate loans will operate on different plans, repayments will be taken as one lump sum.
If you're earning above the postgraduate threshold, you'll make repayments towards this loan, and once you earn more than the undergraduate threshold, you'll make a single payment to cover both repayments each month.
The table below shows you how much you'll be repaying each month for both your undergraduate and postgraduate Student Loans from the April after you've finished your course:
Welsh Postgraduate Student Loan repayments
|Annual salary||Undergraduate Loan||Postgraduate Loan||Total|
Thinking about doing a PhD after your master's? Check out our guide to the Doctoral Loan.