External Funding for MA, MRes and MPhil Students

Students coming to the RCA find funding from many different sources. Some are lucky enough to win scholarships and sponsorship, while some have managed to save money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however the following information could be useful.

Government Postgraduate Loan Scheme

£10,906 study loans available for MA, MPhil and MRes Programmes at the RCA

The UK Government runs a loan scheme for students studying towards Master's degrees. These loans are assessed by Student Finance England and are delivered by the Student Loan Company and they differ from traditional loans as repayments are calculated as a proportion of income rather than being fixed amounts. Click here for additional information. It is important to note that the Master's Loan may be treated as income in welfare benefit calculations; if in doubt you are advised to seek advice via the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Key points

  • Loans of up to £10,906 per Programme to help with the costs of Master's study. 
  • Money paid directly to student in termly instalments.
  • Administered through the Student Loan Company and assessed by Student Finance England.
  • Non means-tested, so not linked to household income, earnings, or other grants.  
  • Repayments six per cent of earnings over £21,000 once study is complete. 


  • Home and EU students aged under 60 are eligible for the loan. Home students must have been resident in England prior to the start of their Programme for purposes other than education. EU students must have been resident in the EU for three years prior to the start of their Programme; please note there is no requirement for EU students to have been living in the UK prior to starting their course.
  • Rules mean that Scottish, Welsh, Islands, and Northern Irish students may not qualify unless they have been living in England for reasons other than study, although alternative loans may be available from the devolved funding agencies. 
  • If students have already completed a Master's qualification, or a higher-level award, they will not qualify.
  • All the RCA’s MA and MRes Programmes are eligible, full time or part time where that study route is available.

Applications for the Postgraduate Loan are now open and you can find further information and the application form here

15-month MA Programmes: Master's Loan

Our 15 month MA Programmes are eligible for Master's Loans and are usually paid in three instalments over the duration of the Programme. It is important to check your payment schedule when you receive it from the SLC to ensure you know when you are getting your money. 

Charitable Funding

It is often worth looking around for other funding opportunities. In the UK there are many hundreds of charitable organisations and educational trusts that can offer financial assistance to students. This form of funding requires hard work and some luck, but many of our current students benefit from assistance from external organisations. 

Where to Look?

There is no exhaustive list but we recommend looking at the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding. This is an external resource that the RCA subscribes to and makes available for our students. You can log in with your RCA email or request the pin number from Student Support (student-support@rca.ac.uk).  

 Budgeting and money advice :

  • The Student money website: Save the Student provides free, impartial advice to students on how to make their money go further.  Useful tools and resources for students are available to help you budget including some cheat sheets to help you improve your finances. 
  • Student Calculator: Understand where your money is coming from and where it's going is crucial to keeping cash in your pocket at university.

Other useful places to look for relevant charities are listed below:

  • Turn 2 Us
  • Local Council
  • Parish Council
  • Graduates and current student – ask around. 
  • The Grants Register (available in most large libraries and the RCA library in the reference section)

Who can apply?

This depends on the rules of the charity in question. Some charities only accept applications from people with links to a particular location, a town, city, county or country. Others will only accept applications from people with links to a certain profession, or religion, or background. It is worth noting that while some UK-based charities will accept applications from international students, this is more unusual.

How much will I receive?

Many charities are small and have modest awards to give out; a few hundred pounds is most common, but larger awards up to full-fee level are not unheard of. As you do need a certain amount of luck in finding suitable organisations, it is possible you will not have any luck at all. 

How does the process work?

The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding has a very good overview section for you to look at, so that is what we recommend that you do. In the UK many charities exist and they usually are small and local or tied to a particular assessment criteria. The first stage is to draw up a shortlist of charities whose criteria you may match. You then contact them to see if they will accept an application from you, and go from there. Generally speaking, the charities only have modest funds, so they will be looking for a worthy candidate who will be 'pushed across the line' by their grant or loan.  

External Funding for International Students

It is always a good idea to contact the British Council in your country as they often have lists of funding opportunities, or run scholarship programmes themselves. You can get more information at the British Council website.  Funding opportunities for international students are extremely limited and students should plan to cover the cost of study from private means. 

US and Canadian Loans

If you are from the USA you should note that the College is designated as an eligible institution for American students to apply for a Guaranteed Student Loan under the new Direct Loan Program. The RCA’s School Code is 00942300 or G09423. For more information about the loans available to you, please visit the RCA's US Loans pages, the US Education Student Aid website and the Direct Loan website, or contact admissions@rca.ac.uk.

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