It is important to explore your funding options before you start your course to ensure you have funds for your living costs, study needs and money to pay your course tuition fee. Information about course tuition fees is available on the individual course pages.
Working out your budget and calculating your costs for your year/s of study is essential. This may be a weekly or monthly assessment of your outgoing costs and the money you have or will have available to meet the costs. If there is a shortfall, you need to look into ways of increasing your income before you start your course to avoid falling into financial difficulty during your course.
This information on this page outlines possible sources of funding. Most of the suggestions here will not normally be relevant if you are in the UK on a visa, including a Tier 4 (General) visa, you can visit the International Funding page instead.
How to pay your tuition fee
Information about the payment methods and fee payment instalments dates is available on the paying your fees page. Make sure you check the fee payment and liability dates.
Student Finance England (SFE) funding
For courses starting in the academic year 2019-20
As a postgraduate student, you can apply for a Government Postgraduate Masters Loan through Student Finance England and receive up to £10,906 to support your course starting in 2019-20.
The total amount you borrow will be paid evenly over the length of your course. For example, if you apply for the maximum amount of the Postgraduate Masters Loan and study over two years, you'll receive £5,453 in each year of your course. You must meet the eligibility rules to qualify.
This is a one-off loan which means once you receive a Master’s Loan for a course, you cannot get this again for another course. The exception being if a postgraduate course could not be completed because of compelling personal reasons. Also, if you transfer to another course, you may be able to transfer your remaining loan entitlement. Always obtain advice on your individual circumstances first to check if this is possible.
If you already hold a qualification equivalent to or higher than a Master’s level qualification you will not be eligible for a Master’s Loan for a new course. This applies even if the qualification was not obtained in the UK.
Courses must be stand-alone at postgraduate Master’s level and can be taught or research-based. Eligible courses include MA, MSc, LLM, MBA, MRes and MPhil. You cannot receive a Master’s Loan for a Postgraduate Certificate or a Postgraduate Diploma course.
MArch (RIBA Part II, Architecture) and integrated masters courses do not normally qualify for the postgraduate loan because they attract the SFE funding for undergraduate study instead. Visit our undergraduate funding page for more information.
Student Finance England will assess your eligibility to receive the Master’s Loan once you have applied.
There are different ways to qualify depending on your nationality, immigration/settled status, residence in the UK, residence in the EU (or EEA but get further advice if this applies), previous study and qualifications obtained so far.
The eligibility rules can be complex. SFE provide a brief summary of the eligibility rules but also have a look at the UKCISA detailed information for Undergraduate courses as the same eligibility rules apply for Postgraduate funding.
If you live in the UK, you must also normally be ordinarily resident in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course (relevant date). For courses that start in September the relevant date is 1 September and for January start courses its 1 January. You will not be eligible for SFE funding if you have moved to England from another part of the UK for the purpose of study. For example, if you moved to England from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to study an undergraduate degree course and intend to start a postgraduate level course immediately after completing this, contact Student Advice to discuss your circumstances as you may not be eligible for the SFE loan and may be eligible for funding from SF Wales, Scotland or Ireland instead.
Alternatively, you can be resident in another EU country/ EEA country* (*ask for further advice) on these dates.
Here are two examples:
- A UK national living in England on the first day of the academic year (who has not moved to England for education purposes only) and who has been living in the UK for the last three consecutive years leading up to this date could qualify.
- An EU national living in the EEA/Switzerland on the first day of the first academic year of their course, who has also been resident there for the last three consecutive years leading up to this date could also qualify.
Remember in both examples, if they already hold an equivalent or higher level qualification they will not be eligible. In most cases, they will also not be eligible if they have previously taken out a postgraduate loan for an earlier course they did not complete. Although an exception applies if they can prove to SFE that they left the course because of compelling personal reasons. This is explained later on this page.
You must not already hold a qualification at the same level or higher even if you funded this yourself or obtained the qualification outside of the UK. Eligibility is not affected by lower-level qualifications such as Postgraduate Diplomas.
You must be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.
You must not be in arrears or in default of repaying any previous SFE student loan.
You must not have previously received the Master's Loan (unless the CPR exception applies).
If you believe you meet the eligibility rules always make sure you have evidence to prove how you meet the requirements as SFE will usually require this at some point. Depending on your circumstances this could be:
- original valid immigration documents/proof of immigration status
- proof of residence in the UK for three, five, or more years whichever is relevant to the qualifying category
If you cannot provide evidence quickly when requested it can severely delay your application being assessed. If you cannot provide the evidence requested SFE can refuse funding, withdraw funding and/or ask for money to be repaid.
Receiving SFE loans and grants for an undergraduate course does not automatically qualify you for the Master's Loan. Your eligibility for the Master's loan will be assessed again and documents and evidence must be provided again. Your eligibility can be affected if your circumstances have changed since completing your undergraduate degree course e.g. you have lived in another country for a period of time or your immigration status has changed.
If an issue arose with your SFE funding while attending an undergraduate course which was never resolved, this can also affect your eligibility to receive a Postgraduate loan.
Contact Student Advice if you are unsure about your personal eligibility to receive this loan, or if have further questions about applying for it.
The UK government has announced that EU nationals who meet the general eligibility rules and who are start their course in the September 2018 will remain eligible for SFE funding during their course.
You can apply online or by completing a paper form. Visit the Gov.uk website. You only apply once, even if your course is two years (or longer). You should apply as early as possible before your course begins or within 9 months of the start of the academic year.
Payment and repayment
The loan is not assessed against household income so there is no income assessment. The loan is paid over one year for a full-time course or divided equally over two years for a part-time course. Instalments are paid three times a year; 33% on the course start date, the next 33% four months later and the final 34% seven months after the course start date. The payments are made directly to you, not the University. Unlike SFE funding for Undergraduate courses, a separate tuition fee loan payment is not paid directly to the University on your behalf so make sure you are able to pay your course tuition fee using the loan money paid to you or using other additional funds you have secured yourself.
It is repaid once you complete your course and only if you earn above the earnings threshold of £21,000 per year.
More information about repaying this loan can is available from Student Finance England.
Compelling person Reasons (CPR)
If you have previously received a Master's Loan but did not complete the course you will not normally be entitled to a Master's Loan for another course. However, if compelling personal reasons (CPR) caused you to leave your last postgraduate course without completing it then SFE can consider awarding you one additional year of loan for a new course. This has to be a complete whole new course with new modules. If you are still enrolled on a course, you have to withdraw and start a new course. You cannot carry credits over from a previous course to the new course.
A CPR year of loan can only be awarded once, no matter how many courses you start. For CPR to be considered you must apply to SFE for the Postgraduate Loan and provide SFE with satisfactory evidence of your circumstances. CPR can include health or bereavement but other issues can also be considered. CPR funding is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of SFE.
CPR cannot be considered if you have to repeat a year or part year of your course.
Contact Student Advice if you would like to discuss your circumstances and CPR request.
Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)
SFE also provide a grant called the Disabled Students Allowance to help students with study needs relating to their disability. This allowance is available for full and part-time study. You must meet the SFE general eligibility rules and your study needs have to be assessed. Note that EU nationals who do not meet the UK residence rules or EU/EEA nationals not assessed under the SFE migrant worker rules will not normally qualify for this grant.
For further information about this grant and support available from the University visit the disability learning support page.
Other available funding
If you are starting a PhD from August 2018 you can borrow up to £25,000 from Student Finance England to help pay for your course. The Doctoral Loan is paid directly to you. You can use it for your course fees and living costs. The loan will be divided equally across each year of your course. If you already have a qualification which is equivalent to or higher in level than a doctoral qualification when you would not be eligible for the loan. If you have previously studied at PhD level but did not complete the course, you will not normally be entitled to a Doctoral Loan for another course. However, if compelling personal reasons (CPR) caused you to leave your last doctoral course without completing it then SFE can consider awarding you additional funding.
Contact Student Advice if you would like to discuss your circumstances and CPR request.
The general eligibility rules for the Doctoral Loan are the same as the SFE Master’s Loan rules, but additionally, you will not be eligible if you’ve received or will receive Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support).
Professional studies loan
Some banks and private education loan companies operate private loan schemes for postgraduate students. Interest rates and repayments will vary. Check availability and eligibility with your bank or other financial organisation. Always make sure you check the interest rates applied and read the terms and conditions carefully. Usually these types of loans are unsecured, which means they are offered against your credit score, so to get the best rates or to get a larger loan you will need to have a good credit rating. Additionally, it may be difficult to get a professional studies loan if you have a poor credit rating.
Charities and Trusts
Charities and trusts offer financial support to people in need. Some assist with non-related study costs but others specifically to help students.
Each one will have its own eligibility criteria and application process. For example, you may need to live in a certain area and/or be under a certain age or have unexpected financial difficulty during your study.
Charities and Trusts are a useful option to investigate but should not be viewed as a way to meet all your study needs as the sums involved can be quite small.
The Turn2Us website has a free online trust fund search.
Alternatively, you could look in the Educational Grants Directory, published annually by the Directory of Social Change. The Student Advice Team have a reference copy or check with your local library.
The following sites are useful resources:
- Directgov website
- Prospects website
- The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding
- The Student Room
- Scholarship Search
- Research Council
If you are a current undergraduate student considering Postgraduate study, masterscompare has information about funding opportunities for a number of universities.
Funding from the University
In most cases, you must apply before the start of your course. Make sure that you check the eligibility rules, which differ according to the scholarship. Visit the Scholarships page for full information.
Living Expenses Support Scheme (LESS)
This can only be applied for once you are attending the course and meet the application requirements. More information can be found on the Living Expenses Support Scheme (LESS) page.
Alumni Tuition Fee Discount
Have a look at our Alumni tuition fee discount if you intend to start a Masters or PhD course at Westminster and are either a current Westminster student or have studied with us in the past.