If you're a Northern Irish student you may be able to borrow up to £5,500 towards the cost of tuition fees for a master's degree, postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma at any publicly funded UK university. You can choose to study a full-time or part-time programme lasting up to three years.
The loan will be paid to the university by the Student Loans Company. You will not receive any money directly into your own bank account.
Am I eligible to apply?
To be eligible for a Northern Ireland government loan, you must be a UK or Republic of Ireland national, normally live in Northern Ireland (not for purposes of study) and have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the three years before the first day of your first academic year. EU, EEA and Swiss students may also be eligible for the loan, provided they have been ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland for three years before the first day of their first academic year.
Unlike other government loans for postgraduate study, there is no age limit for the loan, so students of any age are welcome to apply. Similarly, you can also apply for the loan if you have completed a postgraduate level qualification in the past.
You can choose to study a postgraduate programme at any publicly funded UK university and do not need to continue living in Northern Ireland in order to receive the loan. However, you must be ordinarily living in Northern Ireland when you submit your application.
Northern Ireland government loans can be combined with other funding and finance, including:
- 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.
How will I repay the loan?
You will repay your postgraduate loan at 9% of income over £18,935. This means that you will only repay when you are earning over £18,935 a year and will only repay 9% of what you earn over this threshold.
Repayments will be automatically deducted from your monthly salary along with income tax and National Insurance. If you are self-employed you will make repayments as part of your annual self assessment and tax return. You will begin repaying your Northern Irish postgraduate loan in the April after you graduate from your course - provided you are earning over £18,935.
Your loan will begin accruing interest once the first payment is made to you. The current interest rate for Northern Irish postgraduate loans is 1.75%.
How do I apply?
Applications for Northern Irish postgraduate loans are now open. For more information and for details of how to apply, please visit the Student Finance NI website.