UK government doctoral loans

If you're starting a research degree from August 2021, you may be entitled to a government-backed loan.

  • Funding: £27,265
  • Academic year: 2021/22
  • Open to: EU and UK (home) students
  • Qualification level: Postgraduate research

Applications for 2022/23 entry will open later this academic year.

A postgraduate doctoral loan can help with your course fees and living costs.

Apply for 2021/22 entry (

UK government loan

You could be eligible for a loan from Student Finance England if you're a:

  • UK national living in England

or are an EU national with: 

  • settled status and resident in the UK for three years prior to the start of your course and resident in England on the first day of the academic year of your course
  • pre-settled status and resident in the UK, Gibraltar, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for three years prior to the start of your course

or an Irish national who:

  • has been resident in the Common Travel area for three years prior to the first day of the academic year of your course, with at least part of this period spend in the Republic of Ireland.

Key facts

  • You could receive up to £27,265 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 won't start making repayments until you're earning £21,000 or more

You can also get extra support ( if you have a disability.

Applying 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 (
  • 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.

Open to EU and UK (home) students.


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 2022/23 entry will open later this year.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please complete our self-referral form.

Contact details

See our 'How to apply' section


You can receive a loan to study a full, standalone postgraduate programme that awards a Doctoral qualification. Eligible courses include:

  • PhD / DPhil
  • EdD
  • EngD

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 the 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 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 installments 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.

Once you're earning more that £21,000 you'll start making payments on your Student Finance England loan. These payments will be set at 6% of anything you earn above £21,000. Payments will stop automatically if:

  • you stop working
  • your income goes below the threshold.

The earliest you'll begin repaying is:

  • the April after you complete your course, subject to meeting the income threshold
  • the April four years after the course started, if you're studying part-time.

Gross annual income




  • Income tax
    20% of earnings above £12,500




  • National Insurance
    12% of earnings over £9,500




  • Undergraduate loan repayments
    9% of earnings over £27,295 (from April 2021)




  • Postgraduate loan repayments
    6% of earnings over £21,000




Take-home pay





  • Loan interest will be calculated at RPI+3%
  • Interest will begin to accrue from the date you receive your first instalment.

The government has committed to beating commercial interest rates, or matching commercial rates but with better terms.

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.

If you're unsure of whether you're eligible, or if you have further visa or immigration advice, please contact