The UK government has introduced a new Doctoral Loan, which allows you to borrow up to £27,265 towards your tuition fees and cost of living during your PhD studies. The loan is paid directly into your bank account in three termly instalments once your course has commenced.

The Doctoral loan is provided by Student Finance England.

Eligibility criteria

Whether you qualify depends on:

Your course

  • must be a full, standalone doctoral course (not a top-up course)
  • have started on or after 1 August 2018
  • last between 3 to 8 academic years
  • be provided by a university in the UK with research degree awarding powers

If more than one university delivers your course and one is overseas, you’ll still be eligible for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan so long as:

  • the UK university is the lead institution
  • you spend at least 50% of your study time over the whole course in the UK

It can be:

  • full-time or part-time
  • taught or research-based, or a combination of both

Examples of postgraduate doctoral qualifications include:

  • PhD / DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • EdD (Doctor of Education)
  • EngD (Doctor of Engineering)

Integrated doctorals

You can apply for a loan if your doctoral programme includes an integrated master’s degree (even if you already have a master’s degree).

You must register for a full doctoral degree.

You won’t be able to apply for a separate Postgraduate Master’s Loan.

Distance learning

To qualify for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan for distance learning, you’ll need to be living both:

  • in England on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • within the UK for the whole of your course

This usually doesn’t apply if you’re:

  • serving in the armed forces
  • a spouse or civil partner of a serving member of the armed forces
  • a dependent parent living with a serving member of the armed forces

Your age

You must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course.

The academic year is a period of 12 months starting on:

  • 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December
  • 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March
  • 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June
  • 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July

Your nationality or residency status

You won’t be able to get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if:

  • you’ve received or will receive Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support)
  • you’re receiving a social work bursary
  • you’re eligible to apply for an NHS bursary (even if you’re not receiving it)
  • you’re already getting payments from student finance for another course that you’re studying
  • you’ve received a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or another serious personal reason
  • you already have a doctoral degree, or a qualification that’s equivalent or higher
  • you’re receiving a doctorate by publication
  • you’re behind in repayments for any previous loans from the Student Loans Company

What can I get?

You can borrow up to £25,000 for your whole course.

The amount you’ll get isn’t based on you or your family’s income.

Repayments and interest rate

The earliest you start repaying is when your annual income is over £21,000 and it’s either the:

  • first April after you leave your course
  • April 4 years after the course started

Contact Student Finance England if your circumstances change or you leave your course early. You’ll have to pay back any overpayment straight away even if your income is less than £21,000.

How much will I repay?

You’ll pay back 6% of your income over the minimum amount (‘threshold’). This is £21,000 a year, £1,750 a month or £404 a week.

If you already have a Postgraduate Masters Loan then you’ll make a combined repayment of 6% covering both postgraduate loans.

Interest rate

You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment until your loan is repaid in full or cancelled.

The interest rate on the loan is currently 6.1%.

Interest will be charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 3%. The interest rate is updated in September every year, using the RPI from March of that year.

For further information please see the Student Finance England website. 

The Student Finance Office at the University can be contacted by emailing or phoning 01484 472210

Student Finance England

Student Finance England have created these 3 videos to explain what Doctoral Loans are, how to apply for one and how you repay the loan.