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Postgraduate funding implications

This information explain how Student Finance England Funding is affected if you make a change to your studies. It is relevant for Postgraduate home and home/EU students (England domiciled students) who pay the home rate of tuition fee and who are eligible for Student Finance England funding. 

If you are receiving Student Finance from Student Finance Wales, the Scottish Awards Agency or from Student Finance Northern Ireland please contact them directly to check how your funding will be affected as the rules differ. If you remain unsure after contacting them,  contact a Welfare Adviser. 

Student Finance England Funding overview:

If you withdraw, your Student Finance England funding entitlement will end, and your Student Finance England application will be closed. 

If you interrupt and stop attending your course temporarily, Student Finance will normally stop any further remaining payments of Loan (and any additional grants) until you return to your course.  However, there is an option to request the payments continue which we explain later in this guidance. 

What happens if I interrupt my studies?

What happens if I interrupt my studies?

If you receive a government Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study or a Doctoral Loan, you are not normally entitled to receive any remaining loan payments after your date of interruption, until you resume study. This also applies to the Disabled Students Allowance should you receive this.

You may have set up a fee payment plan to pay your tuition fee in instalments, in line with your SFE loan payments. However your tuition fee liability remains as 50% if you interrupt or withdraw in Semester 1 and another 50% if you interrupt or withdraw after the first day of Semester 2.  If the loan payment is stopped and you were relying on this to pay any of this tuition fee, you will need another source of income to cover this cost.   It's important to be aware of this as you will be unable to re-enrol and rejoin your course in the future if you have an outstanding tuition fee debt. 

Sometimes there is insufficient time for SFE to stop the next payment of loan, for example if the interruption is close to a payment date.  So the next loan installment may be paid to you in error.  Where this happens SFE have informed us that they are unlikely to ask for that payment to be repaid to them immediately.  However if you later decide to withdraw instead of returning to your studies, this payment will become an overpayment.  Overpayments are recovered separate to your normal loan repayments.  For information about this have a look at the information "What Happens if I withdraw" later on this page.   

Although it may be helpful to receive this loan payment in error, it also means that you will have less loan available when you resume your studies as only the remaining unpaid balance of your loan will be available on your return.  Even if you pay this loan back to SFE, it still won't be available to you on your return to study as it cannot be repaid to you again.  Instead you may want to save this loan payment for when you return to studies. 

Student Finance England also has the discretion to allow your remaining Postgraduate Loan to be paid during an interruption if they accept there are compelling personal reasons and you will be in financial hardship without it.  However, if you continue to receive your Masters Loan or Doctoral Loan payments during a period of interruption, this money won’t be available to you when you resume studies as Student Finance England do not award any additional loan payments.  Only the remaining unpaid balance of your loan will be available on your return so you will have to secure alternative funding to pay any tuition fee due or other costs when you return.  

Your tuition fee liability depends on the date of your interruption. See our page about Postgraduate Tuition Fee implications for information.  

Contact a Welfare Adviser if you are interrupting due to compelling personal reasons and are considering whether you would be financially better off withdrawing. Students who withdraw because of compelling personal reasons may be able to get another Student Finance England Masters Loan or a Doctoral Loan if they start a new course in the future.  See the later section "What happens if I withdraw". 

Students who resume study after a period of suspension of two years or more (continuous or cumulative periods of suspension) will only get further remaining payments of loan if Student Finance England accept that they have a compelling personal reason for being absent for that length of time.  This is at Student Finance England's discretion and evidence of the compelling personal reasons will be required. Note that this evidence is required for continuous suspension periods of two years or more and where separate suspension periods add up to two years or more. 

Paid interruptions of Queen Mary Research Studentships 

Students in receipt of studentships may be entitled to paid leave, depending on the terms of their studentship: please contact the Research Degrees Office for further information and see their information about interruption of studies. 

Any period of paid leave may be considered part of your normal period of funding, and not paid in addition to it. Therefore, if you your completion date is extended because of this period of ill health, part of your studies may be unfunded. 

Research Studentship funded students may be entitled to paid annual leave of up to 30 days. Check with the Research Degrees Office what your entitlement is. If you are considering interrupting your studies for the minimum period of a month, you may wish to consider taking this as annual leave so that your course end date and funding is not affected. 

Can I get funding to re-take a period of study?

Can I get funding if I re-take a period of study?

Student Finance England do not provide any additional funding for re-take periods. Only the standard amount of Masters Loan is available for the course duration.  No additional amount of loan can be requested.  Therefore you cannot receive a Postgraduate Master's Loan payment for any re-take or repeat period.  Only the remaining unpaid balance of your loan will be available on your return.

You must make sure that you can financially support yourself and pay any tuition fee due for the re-take period. You usually need to pay a tuition fee for the re-take period. 

The Disabled Students Allowance is limited and is not normally available during a period where attendance is not required.

Will my funding continue when I resume study after interrupting?

Will my funding continue after a retake period or following interruption?

If you have already been paid the full amount of Masters Loan or Doctoral Loan, you cannot get any further payments of this loan when you resume study so you must make sure that you are able to meet the cost of any tuition fee due and can support yourself financially. 

If you did not receive the full Master’s Loan you are entitled to receive the remaining balance once you resume your study. Instalments will continue as usual but only from the point they were suspended. 

For example: 

  • You interrupt in November 2022, part way through Semester one, having received the first loan instalment in September. 
  • You resume in September 2023. 
  • You would not be eligible for a loan instalment in September 2022 as you have already received this instalment and Student Finance England do not fund repeat periods. However, as you did not receive the next two instalments of loan you would be eligible for the second and third instalments in January 2023 and May 2024. 

What happens if I withdraw?

What happens if I withdraw?

If you were receiving a Master’s Loan or a Doctoral Loan, all future loan payments will be stopped following the date of your withdrawal. You will be allowed to keep the loan payments you have already received and that cover your attendance on the course.  These will  not  be treated as overpayments.  You would only have an overpayment if Student Finance England make a payment to you after your date of withdrawal, for example because they were notified too late to cancel the next payment. Overpayments are not repaid alongside the rest of your loan and will need to be repaid separately, before the statutory repayment due date. 

If you are considering starting a new postgraduate course, the section below has information about the Student Finance England options for a new course.

What happens if I transfer to another course?

What happens if I transfer to another course?

If you are receiving a Postgraduate Loan for Master’s Study, and you transfer to another eligible course, you may be entitled to the remainder of your loan entitlement for the new course. The Student Finance England guidance explains the following: a transfer of funding is possible providing the previous course has not ended and the student has not withdrawn from the original course. In either case a student should inform SFE of the course change.  SFE further explain that for this reason, if a student wishes to change their course and retain their eligibility for the Masters Loan, they should transfer course rather than withdraw and re-apply. The new University has to confirm the course change to SFE for any payments to be made.

Student Finance England do not provide any additional funding so if you transfer and have already received a payment of Master Loan for the previous course, only the remaining unpaid balance will be available for the new course. If you transfer from an eligible course to an ineligible course, your Postgraduate Loan eligibility will end from the date of transfer, and payments of postgraduate loans should stop.  Previous payments made when you were attending the eligible course will not be reassessed. Any loan payments made after the transfer to an ineligible course will be treated as an overpayment. Any overpayment is not repaid alongside the rest of your loan and will need to be repaid before the statutory repayment due date.

Can I get another loan for a new postgraduate course?

Can I get another loan for a new postgraduate course?

Student Finance England Postgraduate Loans are usually only available once.  If you have already received a postgraduate loan payment for a previous course, you cannot normally access another Student Finance England loan for a new second postgraduate programme.  However, if you can demonstrate that you were unable to complete the previous Master’s or Research Degree due to compelling personal reasons, Student Finance England has discretion to award a further Postgraduate Loan or Doctoral Loan for a new programme. You must be studying the new course in its entirety and must not carry any credits over. This can only be awarded once and is discretionary so not guaranteed.  It is advisable to apply for funding for your new course and provide evidence of you compelling reasons as early as possible before you enrol onto your new course.  It is important to allow sufficient time for Student Finance England to make a decision. 

Our understanding is that this provision would also apply if you were re-starting the same course from which you previously withdrew providing you can prove to Student Finance England that you withdrew due to compelling personal reasons.  They will need to consider your evidence.  You must also be studying the new course in its entirety and not carry any credits over. 

The section in our Undergraduate information explains how to apply for discretionary funding for a new course if compelling personal reasons caused you to withdraw.

You can also contact a Welfare Adviser if you would like to discuss making this request to Student Finance England.

Can I apply to the Financial Assistance Fund?

Can I apply to the Financial Assistance Fund?

This University fund can only normally consider applications from students who are attending their course.  It does not normally support students who are re-sitting out of attendance or who have interrupted their studies.  This fund cannot help with Tuition Fee costs.

However, if you are re-sitting out of attendance and you need to give up work for a few weeks before your exams so that you can revise, you may be able to get a grant to help towards your loss of earnings from the Financial Assistance Fund (FAF).

In exceptional circumstances, you might also be able to apply to the University Financial Assistance Fund for a limited amount of financial assistance if you have no income while you are waiting for other funds to arrive.

Applications cannot be considered from students who have withdrawn from their studies.

Contact a Welfare Adviser is you would like to discuss your circumstances and Financial Assistance Fund application.  

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