Students can borrow up to £25,000 during their postgraduate Doctoral course. The total amount they borrow will be paid evenly over the length of their course.

Applications can now be made online through 


Loans are available for any taught and research based studyin any subject, full-time or part-time, beginning on or after 1 August 2018  

  • Student can borrow a Doctoral loan of up to £25,000 from 2018/19 academic year.
  • The loan will be divided equally across each year of your course.
  • It’s paid directly to the student and it is not based on your income or the income of your household.
  • There are no subject restrictions and you can use it for your course fees and living costs.
  • At least 50% of study over the whole course must be undertaken in the UK.
  • Whether you qualify depends on: your course, your age and your nationality or residency status.

If you are unsure as to whether you qualify, please check the information on the UKCISA  and Gov.UK Eligibility website. 

Receiving the loan

From 2018/19 academic year, new students starting an eligible Doctoral degree may be eligible for a loan of up to £25,000 from SFE.

  • You need to register on your programme in order to receive payments.
  • Payments will be made directly into your bank account.
  • Payments will be made once confirmation of study is received from the RVC.
  • The loan will be paid in 3 instalments of 33%, 33% and 34% each year.
  • Students cannot elect to have payments split in different proportions.
  • The student’s total loan entitlement is capped at £10,609 per academic year.
  • Students are only entitled to support for each academic year they have an active application.

Yearly Entitlement

Course length Loan amount per academic year  
Three academic years

Year 1 - £8,333

Year 2 - £8,333

Year 3 - £8,334

Four academic years 

Year 1 - £6,250

Year 2 - £6,250

Year 3 - £6,250

Year 4 - £6,250

Source: SFE forum June 2018 

Course eligibility

It 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

Please check the information on the Gov.UK Eligibility website.  

Integrated doctoral

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 will not be able to apply for a separate Postgraduate Master’s Loan.

Please check the information on the Gov.UK Eligibility website. 

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 does not 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

Please check the information on the Gov.UK Eligibility website.  

You will not be able to get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if

  • you’ve received or will receive Research Council funding for example;
  1. studentships
  2. stipends
  3. scholarships
  4. tuition fee support


  • you’re receiving a social work bursary.
  • 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.

If you are unsure as to whether you qualify, please check the information on the UKCISA  and Gov.UK Eligibility website.  


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.

How much you’ll 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.

ExampleYou earn £2,500 a month before tax.  This is £750 over the monthly threshold. You’ll repay £45 (6% of this amount) each month.

  • If you already have a Postgraduate Master’s Loan then you’ll make a combined repayment of 6% covering both postgraduate loans.
  • You must repay any undergraduate student loans you have at the same time.

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.

For more information please see Gov.UK Repayment

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