Securing a loan for postgraduate study
Few postgraduate students get by without some sort of loan to meet their living costs or tuition fees - or both. Possibilities include professional and career development loans, loans from high street banks, private finance or loans offered by course providers.
Professional and career development loans
Professional and career development loans (PCDLs) range from £300–£10,000 and cover up to 80 per cent of course fees for vocational (but not conversion) courses, other course costs and living expenses.
You make an arrangement with a participating bank (currently The Co-operative Bank – Barclays stopped accepting new applications in July) and then pay it back in the normal way once you've stopped studying. While you are studying, and for one month afterwards, the government (through the Skills Funding Agency) pays the interest on the loan. If you have been unemployed for a minimum of three months you may be able to apply for a loan to cover 100 per cent of your fees.
These loans can help to fund a wide range of courses lasting up to two years, or three years if the course includes a year of work experience. A PCDL could be an option if you wish to take a professional qualification, a postgraduate course such as a masters, or technical or management training.
If you've graduated from university recently, you may be eligible for a graduate loan from your bank. Graduate loan interest rates are usually lower than the standard commercial loans the bank might offer.
Bank loans are sometimes available for students on vocational or professional courses. If you can demonstrate that your intended course will enhance your career prospects, your application will be given serious consideration.
Private student finance
A number of private firms are now working with universities to offer postgraduate student funding schemes or arranging funding with students directly.
Future Finance is regulated by Financial Conduct Authority, and offers student loans for tuition fees and cost of living for study in the UK or semesters abroad. You can borrow between £2,500 and £40,000 per academic year (subject of your individual circumstances).
Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loans (PTFL)
The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) has a limited amount of funding available to support postgraduate students by providing tuition fee loans. Funding is available to eligible students on certain postgraduate diploma level courses (which vary from year to year).
To apply you'll need to have an unconditional offer on a qualifying programme and meet the SAAS’s residency conditions.
SAAS living cost loans from 2015/16
Full time postgraduate students domiciled in Scotland on a SAAS supported programme could also qualify for a SAAS living cost loan of up to £4,500.
For more information on eligibility, visit www.saas.gov.uk.