Unlike undergraduate students, people wanting to complete a master’s degree in the UK unfortunately do not qualify for maintenance loans. In this article we’ll explore why that is, and what other financial options could be available to you.

Why is there no maintenance loan for master’s?

Why is there no maintenance loan for masters?
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Student loans for postgraduate degrees work differently to undergraduate degrees. For undergraduate degrees, you get a loan for tuition fees and a loan for maintenance. However, for postgraduate study, you just get one loan which is expected to cover your tuition and offer a little extra to support living costs. We’ve broken down how much you can get when studying a master’s depending on where you live in the UK.

Funding for postgraduate loans is different depending where you live. Find out how much you can get below.

1. Postgraduate student loans for if you live in England

Postgraduate student loans for if you live in England
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A postgraduate master’s loan can help cover living expenses and course fees. It’s a non-means-tested loan that’s paid directly to you. To qualify for the loan, you have to be studying towards a master’s degree, and can’t already hold a master’s degree or a higher qualification. Students apply for the loan via Student Finance England. To be eligible, you must live in England and be under 60 years old on the first day of the academic year in which your master’s degree begins. Moreover, you must be studying a full master’s degree of a minimum of 180 credits – those studying towards a postgraduate certificate or diploma will not be eligible. This academic year, students in England whose course started on or after August 2023 were eligible for up to £12, 167. You can apply for a postgraduate loan up to 9 months after the start of the final year of your qualification.

2. Postgraduate loans if you live in Scotland

Students living in Scotland should apply to The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) for postgraduate degree funding. SAAS generally funds full-time Postgraduate Diplomas that take up to 1 year to complete and full-time master’s that take up to 2 years to complete. A tuition fee loan of up to £7,000 is available for full-time courses, and is split equally across each year of the course. This is paid directly to your college or university. The deadlines for applying for this loan are

The deadlines for applying for tuition fees for the academic year 2024-25 are:

  • 1 December 2024 for courses starting between 1 August 2024 and 31 December 2024
  • 1 March 2025 for courses starting between 1 January 2025 and 31 March 2025

Eligible full-time postgraduate students can also apply for living-cost loan up to £6,900. This is also split equally across each year of the course. From the 2024-25 academic year the amount of loan students are entitled to will include a £2,400 Special Support Loan. New and continuing students can apply for this loan. It is also available to Care Experienced students.

3. Postgraduate loans if you live in Wales

Bangor University - studying in Wales
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For students living in Wales, the maximum amount of loan available for academic year 2024 to 2025 is £18,950. Student Finance Wales will pay your money into your bank account in 3 instalments, usually once at the start of each term. If your course lasts for more than a year, Student Finance Wales will divide the money equally across each year.  Students must apply no later than 9 months after the start of the final academic year of their course. You do not need a confirmed place at university or college to apply.

4. Postgraduate loans if you live in Northern Ireland 

Students living in Northern Ireland are eligible for one of two kinds of funding. The first is tuition fee and extra help, such as the Disabled Students’ Allowance. You can apply for this if any of the following apply:

  • You are a UK or Irish citizen and have been living in UK & Islands for 3 years before the first day of the first year of your course.
  • You have been granted settled status and been living in UK & Islands for 3 years before the first day of the first year of your course
  • You have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and been living in UK & Islands for 3 years before the first day of the first year of your course

Students will also need to live in Northern Ireland on or before the first day of the first academic year of their course. They can also have an eligible exception residency type such as a refugee, stateless person or humanitarian protection. If students are not eligible for this type of funding, they can get tuition fee-only funding if all of the following apply:

  • You’re not able to identify as a tuition fee and extra help student
  • You’ve been granted pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • You’ve lived in the UK, Gibraltar, EEA (including the Republic of Ireland) or Switzerland for at least 3 years before the first day of the first year of your course
  • You will be studying in Northern Ireland

Family members of a person with settled status, a UK national or a person of Northern Ireland may be able to apply as a tuition fee only funding student.

Disabled Students’ Allowance

The Disabled Students’ Allowance helps cover the study-related costs a student may have because of a mental health problem, long-term illness or any other disability. It can be on its own or in addition to any student finance you get, and does not need to be paid back. The type of support and how much you get depends on your individual needs as opposed to your household income. For the 2024/2025 academic year, undergraduate and postgraduate students in England can get up to £26,948 a year for support. DSA support might include funding for equipment, covering travel costs, or funding non-medical personal help.

Want to learn more about master’s degrees and whether you should do one? Check out our article Should I do a master’s degree after undergrad?

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