UK and EU Students starting a doctoral degree in 2022/23 may be able to apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan through Student Finance England.

Students can borrow up to £27,265 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.

  • You must be a UK national ordinarily resident in England. If you are unsure as to whether you qualify, please check the information on the UKCISA  and Gov.UK Eligibility website.
  • You must be aged 59 years or under on the first day of the academic year of your course;
  • You must not already hold a PhD or equivalent qualification;
  • You must not be receiving a Research Council studentship (including tuition fees only studentship), or other government finance towards your PhD.
  • There are no subject restrictions and you can use it for your course fees and living costs.

For all up-to-date information, please check the UKCISA  and Gov.UK Eligibility website. 

An overview of Doctoral Loan and details of how to apply is available from Student Finance England




(Academic Year)

2018/19 25,000
2019/20 25,700
2020/21 26,445
2021/22 27,265

Receiving the loan

From 2019/20 academic year, new students starting an eligible Doctoral degree may be eligible for a loan of up to £25,700 from SFE.

  • The loan will be up to £25,700 per student for the duration of the course; (capped at £10,906 per academic year)
  • A contribution towards the cost of study, i.e. it will be at the student’s discretion to use the loan towards fees, maintenance costs or other costs;
  • Non-means tested;
  • Paid directly to the student (3 equal instalments each year).
  • It’s paid directly to the student and it is not based on your income or the income of your household.
  • For additional information and see if you qualify, please visit Student Finance England website.

NB: course length is counted from initial registration up to the expected final thesis submission (standard full-time PhD course: 3 years of supervised study + 1 year of writing up period (CO) = 4 years in total).

Source: SFE 

Course eligibility

  • Your course must be a full, standalone doctoral course;
  • Course start date is on or after 1 August 2018;
  • Course duration is between 3 to 8 academic years;
  • Available for full-time and part-time study;
  • At least 50% of study over the whole course must be undertaken in the UK;
  • There are no restrictions on what subject you can study and your PhD proposal will not be checked as part of your application for a doctoral loan.
  • It can be 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. 

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.

Example You 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 6.3%.
  • 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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