Managing your money

What we know about Postgraduate Loans to date…

It was announced in the 2015 Budget that a new student loan system will be introduced for Postgraduate Masters study. Here the Advice and Money Team share their knowledge of what they know about the new PG Loan scheme to date.

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Start Dates

The new Postgraduate Loans will come in academic year 2016/17 for new English domiciled students. There has been no information as yet if the scheme will be introduced to students who are ordinary resident in other devolved nations such as Wales. If it is introduced to students domiciled in Wales it is unlikely to be for 2016/17 academic year.

Loan Amounts

A total of £10,000 will be available to assist towards the cost of study. This is non means tested so available regardless of household income. The money will be paid directly to the student into their UK bank account. It is up to the student whether they use the loan to go towards their fees, their living costs or spread across both.

Eligibility

To be eligible you must satisfy all of the conditions below:

  • Be a UK national (or have settled status in the UK) AND
  • Have been ordinary resident in the UK and Islands for three years on the first day of the first academic year of the course*(for courses starting in the autumn, this is always 1st September) AND
  • Been most recently resident in England AND
  • Be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of the course *AND
  • Must not have outstanding Student Loan arrears or been deemed unfit to receive student support (for example for reasons associated to fraud)

What does “mostly resident in England” mean?

If you live in England immediately before starting your Masters course you should be eligible, as long as you comply with all the other conditions. They will allow students temporary absences from the home address in England, such as for travelling or studying. Our understanding of this is if you are funded by Student Finance England currently to study an undergraduate course in Wales and you go on to study a Postgraduate Masters immediately after completing your undergraduate degree, you will also be eligible. If after finishing your undergraduate degree you decide to stay in Wales to live and leave studying a Masters for a year or more, you won’t be eligible under the current rules. The Postgraduate Loan system will be operated by Student Finance England, so they will want to establish that you live and consider England your home, but will accept temporary absences.

Course Eligibility

  • Courses must be 1 and 2 year full-time Masters. Part-time Masters will be eligible as long as the minimum requirement is 50% intensity compared to a full-time course. So a 1 year full-time course must be completed part-time in no less than 2 years etc.
  • The Masters can be taught, research based or a professional Masters. Examples include MSc, MA, MPhil, MRes, LLM, MEd & MBA.
  • Integrated Masters will not be eligible (because they are funded through the Undergraduate system).
  • Postgraduate Certificates or Postgraduate Diplomas will not be eligible.
  • Qualifications higher than Masters level, such as PhD, will also not be eligible.
  • Students can attend any university in the UK. If the course is distance learning, it must be provided by an institution in England.

Previous Masters Level Study

Funding is only available to those studying their first Postgraduate Masters. If you already have a Masters qualification (or equivalent Higher Education qualification) you will not be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan to study another Masters, regardless of how the first Masters was funded. We understand that there will be exceptions if you studied at Masters level before but did not complete the course due to compelling personal reasons.

Repayment

The repayment system is income contingent and very similar to how students repay their current Undergraduate Loans. Repayment will commence in April after completing the Masters, and will be taken directly out of your wages via the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Tax System. The threshold for repayment is the same for the Undergraduate Loans: £21,000 a year or £1,750 a month or £404 a week. Graduates will repay 6% of their income above the repayment threshold. The system will run concurrently with the Undergraduate Loan system, where graduates repay 9% of their income over the same repayment threshold. So a student with an Undergraduate and a Postgraduate Loan could be paying 15% of their income over the repayment threshold.

Interest Rates

Similar to Undergraduate Loans, the interest will be the Retail Price Index plus 3% APR on all outstanding Postgraduate Loan balances.

Contact the Advice and Money Team

As more details become available, the Advice and Money Team will be able to provide further advice. In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries about funding a Postgraduate course, please get in contact with us: adviceandmoney@cardiff.ac.uk 029 2087 4844 or call into 50 Park Place.

Best wishes
Einir, Advice & Money Team

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