Student Finance NI Postgraduate Loans for Masters Study

Northern Irish students starting a postgraduate Master’s course in 2017-18 will be able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan (PGL) under Student Finance NI.

Applications are expected to open on the Student Finance NI website from June 2017. 

A non-means tested tuition loan of up to £5,500 per student is avalible for Northern Ireland domiciled students. 

Please see the following pages for England, Wales and Scotland domilciled students. 

Key information

The main details of the new Postgraduate Loan are as follows:

  • A tuition loan of up to £5,500 will be made available to students applying to any postgraduate course including postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma or taught and research Masters courses for the 2017-18 academic year.

  • The loan will be available to students across all discipline subject areas for full-time, part-time and distance learning programmes.

  • Unlike PGL from England, Wales or Scotland, students are eligible for the loan even if they hold an equivalent or higher qualification (which includes undergraduate integrated Masters qualifications, such as MSci or MEng etc). 
  • Loans will be paid directly to Higher Education Providers on behalf of students.

Personal Eligibility

  • Unlike PGL from England, Wales or Scotland, there are no age limited to the Northern Irish PGL. 
  • PGL will be available to persons settled in the UK; who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland and who have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for three years on the first day of the first academic year of their course. Temporary absences from the home address, such as for travelling, will not prevent an applicant being eligible for PGL.

  • Individuals may be eligible if they are an EU national or refugee; have leave to enter or remain; are an EEA or Swiss migrant worker; are a family member of any of the previous categories, or a child of a Swiss national or child of a Turkish worker.

  • Distance learning applicants must reside in Northern Ireland.
  • Students can avail of the loan even if they hold an equivalent or higher qualification (which includes undergraduate integrated Masters qualifications, such as MSci or MEng etc) – however, students will be entitled to one postgraduate tuition fee loan only.
  • Northern Irish postgraduate loans can be combined other funding and finance, including the following:

    • Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs)
    • Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)
    • University scholarships
    • Charitable grants
    • NHS bursaries

However, you cannot have more than one student loan at the same time. This means you cannot receive a postgraduate loan whilst still receiving an undergraduate loan.

For more information, or to seek clarification as to eligible programmes, check the Student Finance NI website.

Course Eligibility 

  • The student must start the course in the academic year 2017/18.
  • The course may be provided by a publically funded HE Provider in the UK.
  • Courses must be completed in three academic years or less.
  • Master’s courses that are currently funded by the undergraduate support system, such as integrated Master’s (MSci, MEng), will not be eligible for PGL.

How to apply

  • Online applications for 2017-18 academic year will open from June 2017 on the Student Finance NI website. 

  • It is recommended that you apply for a place on your course at the University of Birmingham prior to applying to a Postgraduate Loan.

Payment

  • Loans will be paid directly to Higher Education Providers on behalf of students.
  • If you decide to study part-time your loan will be spread out across each year of your course. This means that you will be able to borrow up to:
    • £2,750 in each year of a two-year course.
    • £1,833 in the first two years of a three-year course (with £1,834 in the final year).

Repayment

  • Interest will accrue at a rate in line with retail price index (RPI).*

  • Repayments will start to become due on April following the academic year in which the course is completed.

  • Repayment threshold will be on any income above £17,775 per year, £1,481 per month, or £341 per week before tax and National Insurance. 

  • The repayment amount will be 9% of income above the relevant threshold.

  • Unlike in England and Wales, repayments will not be made concurrently with any other student loan repayments due. If you are repaying both an undergraduate and the new postgraduate loan you will only pay 9% of your income above the threshold towards both loans.

*Exact rates have not been confirmed, but will either be set at RPI (the Retail Prices Index) or at 1% above the base rate of a selected group of banks (whichever is lower).

Change of Circumstances

  • There are currently no confirmed guidelines for changes of circumstances.

For updated information, check the Student Finance NI website.

Alternative Funding

For alternative sources of funding for masters study for which you may be eligible, please visit our Loans, charities and trust page.

Information for EU students

Following results of the EU Referendum in the UK, please see the following information published by Universities UK and the British Council for EU students studying in the UK from academic year 2017-18 onwards. 

Studying in the UK: FAQs and Key Messages 2017-18