A Guide to the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

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Published by Sophie Kelly
on 08/07/2019

Government Loans to fund your PhD

The Postgraduate Doctoral

The UK Government is offering postgraduate loans for eligible students to continue their studies. Two loans currently exist – the Postgraduate Masters Loan and the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan

This guide will help you find out more about the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan and decide whether it’s right for you.

Please note that this guide applies to UK and EU students who are normally resident in England (did not move to England just to study) or moving from the EU to study in England. Different loans are available to those normally resident in WalesScotland or Northern Ireland.

What is the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan?

The loan is paid directly to you by Student Finance England and can help you pay for course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD.

What will I get?

If your course starts on or after August 2019, you can receive £25,700. The loan is paid directly to you for you to use towards tuition fees or living costs and is not based on your family’s income.

The loan is paid in three instalments of 33%, 33% and 34% each year. You’ll get the first payment once your university confirms your attendance.

Who can get a Doctoral Loan?

Whether or not you are eligible for a Doctoral Loan depends on your course, your age and where you live. You cannot receive the loan if you are receiving Research Council funding or already have a doctoral degree.


Your course must be a standalone doctoral course, last between three and eight academic years and be provided by a university in the UK with research degree awarding powers. Your course can be full-time or part-time and be taught or research-based.

If more than one university delivers your course, you must spend more than 50% of your study time over the whole course in the UK and the UK university must be the lead institution.

You can also get the loan if you are distance learner, provided you are living in England on the first day of your course.


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

Your nationality or residency status

You can get the Doctoral Loan if you’re a UK or EU national or have ‘settled status’, you normally live in England and did not move to England just to study and you have been living in the UK for 3 years before starting your course.

If you are an EU national, you may be eligible if you have normally lived in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the past three years and you’ll be studying at a university in England.

How do I repay my loan?

The earliest you can start repaying is on the first April after you leave your course or April four years after the course has started and your annual income is over £21,000.

You’ll pay back 6% of your income over the minimum amount. This is £21,000 a year.

You’ll also be charged interest from the day you get your first payment until your loan is fully repaid or cancelled. The interest rate is currently 6.3%.

How do I apply?

How to Apply
You can apply online or by post

You can apply online or by post within nine months of the first day of the last academic year of your course. You will need proof of identity and supporting information.

How do I find out more information?

You can find all the terms & conditions and further information on the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan government website. Please read all the information provided by the government before applying for the loan.

Please note that the information in this blog post is correct as of 8 July 2019 and may be subject to change.

Sophie is a member of the Postgraduate Recruitment team

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