UK government doctoral loans
If you're starting a research degree from August 2023, you may be entitled to a government-backed loan.
A postgraduate doctoral loan can help with your course fees and living costs.
UK government loan
You could be eligible for a loan from Student Finance England if you're a:
- You're a UK national or Irish citizen or have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or indefinite leave to remain so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay
- You normally live in England
- You've been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years in a row before the first day of the first academic year of your course (excepting temporary absences such as holidays)
- You could receive up to £28,673 over the duration of the course
- How much you get does not depend on your household income
- The loan is paid directly to you in three instalments each academic year
- Available in all subject areas for PhD-level qualifications lasting between three and eight years
- At least 50 per cent of study over the whole course must be undertaken in the UK
- Available to students aged under 60 on the first day of their course without Research Council studentships (including fees only awards) or NHS Bursaries including Social Work bursaries
- You'll have to start repaying your loan when your income is over a certain threshold amount. Please visit the Government's information on repaying your student loans (gov.uk) for the most up to date information.
- You'll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment.
You can also get extra support (gov.uk) if you have a disability.
If you apply after your first year
If you apply after your first year, you might not get the maximum amount. You can apply for a doctoral loan during any year of your course.
Devolved nations loans
- If you live in Wales (studentfinancewales.co.uk)
- If you live in Scotland, you will not be eligible for a loan from the Student Awards Agency Scotland. You could try applying for support from a Research Council instead.
- If you live in Northern Ireland, you will not be eligible for a loan from Student Finance Northern Ireland. You could try applying for support from a Research Council instead.
In addition to the residency requirements outlined above, you may also be eligible if you're a non-EU national and are:
- the child of a Turkish worker
- a refugee or the relative of someone who is
- under humanitarian protection or the relative of someone who is
- staying in the UK as stateless or the relative of someone who is
- aged 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half your life
- aged under 18 and have lived in the UK for at least seven years
- granted indefinite leave to remain following the Calais camp clearance in 2016 (known as ‘Calais leave’) or the child of someone with Calais leave. You must also have lived in the UK for at least three years before the first day of the first academic year.
You will not normally be eligible if:
- you're a UK national or have settled or pre-settled status in the UK, but live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
UKCISA provides information on funding and loans for postgraduate students that live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Find out if you are eligible.
Other eligibility factors
You will not be eligible if:
- you already hold:
- a doctoral qualification
- an equivalent qualification
- a higher qualification
- you're receiving a doctorate by publication
- you're aged 60 or above on the first day of the academic year in which your course begins
- you've received or will receive Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support)
- you're already getting payments from Student Finance England for another course that you’re studying
- you're already getting a social work bursary
- you're already getting an Educational Psychology bursary
- you're eligible to apply for an NHS bursary (even if you’re not receiving it)
- you've received a Doctoral loan before - unless you left your course for a serious personal reason like illness or bereavement
- you're behind in repayments for any previous loans from the Student Loans Company.
How to apply
Applications for 2023/24 are now open.
For more information, or if you have any questions, please complete our self-referral form.
You can receive a loan to study a full, stand-alone postgraduate programme that awards a Doctoral qualification. Eligible courses include:
- PhD / DPhil
Course length and mode
Your course can be:
- full-time or part-time, lasting between three and eight years
- taught, research-based, or a combination of both
- taught by more than one university where one is overseas, so long as:
- the UK university is the lead institution
- you spend at least 50 per cent of your study time over the whole course in the UK
- distance learning, so long as:
- you live in the UK for the whole of your course if you’re not an EU national
- you live in England for the whole of your course if you’re an EU national.
Your loan will be paid to you in three instalments over the academic year, subject to confirmation of attendance by the University. After your application has been approved, you’ll be sent a letter with your payment dates, or you can check them in your online account. These will be evenly spaced across your course.
The loan will be paid directly to you. You will be responsible for using the money to contribute towards tuition fees and other expenses as you see fit.
You will begin repaying your loan once your earnings are over a certain threshold. Please check the latest government information for guidance.
If you're an eligible EU national who joined the University in the 2019/20 or 2020/21 academic years, you'll have access to student loans for the duration of your course.
- For further details, see EU Nationals and Student Finance in England (gov.uk).
If you're unsure of whether you're eligible, or if you have further visa or immigration advice, please complete the International Student Support self-referral form.