Postgraduate Loan for PhD Students (1)

Funding applications for the UK Government PhD loans in England and Wales have been available since 2019. Students have the opportunity to borrow up to £25,700 to help cover costs of course fees and living expenses while studying a UK PhD.

What is the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan?

  • A loan worth up to £25,700.
  • To help support the cost of living and course fees while studying a PhD at a UK university.
  • Available to UK nationals and European Union nationals resident in England.
  • Must be under 60 years old to be eligible and must not be receiving Research Council Funding.

How much will I be able to borrow?

You will be able to borrow up to £25,700. The amount you receive is not based on your family’s income and can be used to cover your cost of living and pay your course fees.

Am I eligible for a loan?

Your eligibility depends on:

  • Your course
  • Your age
  • Your nationality or residency status

In order to qualify for a PhD loan, you must:

  • Be a UK citizen, European Union (EU) national, or have ‘settled status’ and are residing in England
  • Have been residing in the UK for the past three years
  • Be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • Not already have received a doctoral degree or equivalent qualification prior to applying
  • Not be receiving government finance or scholarships towards your PhD, including Research Council funding or other government funding
  • Not have begun your PhD before 2018/19

Is my doctorate eligible?

PhD loans are available for most types of doctoral degrees, in any subject, as long as your course is in the UK. This includes both academic and professional doctorates. The course must be a full, standalone doctoral course, not a top-up.

Your course must begin on or after 1 August 2018 and must last at least 3 years but must not exceed 8 years. You will be able to study full or part time, and the degree can be taught, research-based, or a combination of both.

How do I apply?

You can now apply for courses which start on or after 1 August 2019.

You can apply for a PhD loan online by logging into your Student Finance England account if you’ve taken out a loan before, or click here to set up a new account. Creating an account will take approximately 10 minutes and you will need your National Insurance number.

You can also download a PDF application form to apply by post. The address is located on the form.

When do I apply?

The deadline for applying is flexible and depends on when your course begins. You’ll need to apply within nine months of the first day of the final academic year of the course.

Below is an outline of the academic year. The first day of your course will depend on the point in the year when you begin studying.

Course start date betweenFirst day of academic year
1 August – 31 December1 September
1 January – 31 March1 January
1 April – 30 June1 April
1 July – 31 July1 July

How do repayments work?

You won’t have to start repaying your PhD loan until you begin earning over £21,000 a year. You’ll only pay back 6% of what you earn over the repayment threshold.

If you are employed and earning over £21,000 a year, then you will start repaying your PhD loan from either the first April after you leave your course, or the April four years after the course begins, whichever comes first.

It’s important to take into consideration that you will be expected to repay any outstanding undergraduate student loans at the same time.

Interest is charged from the day you receive the first payment until you repay the loan in full or it’s canceled. The current interest rate is set at 6.1% and may rise based on the RPI (Retail Price Index) +3% from March of that year.

Any remaining loan balance will be cancelled after 30 years from the point you first begin paying it back.

If you end up having to leave your course early or your circumstances change, you’ll have to pay back any overpayment regardless of whether your income is less than the repayment threshold. Get in contact with Student Finance Englandfor further information.

Postgraduate Doctoral Loan in Wales

Applications are now open for Welsh doctoral loans. Students who are resident in Wales will also be eligible for a PhD loan worth up to £25,700.

Applications can be made online or by post and should be sent to Student Finance Wales.

Find out more

Further eligibility requirements can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

Next Steps

  1. Sign up for or email updates for further information as well as the latest PhD funding opportunities as they are added to Postgraduate Studentships.
  2. Looking for PhD funding?Attend our annual PhD Funding Fair in December
  3. Search our listings of the latest PhD Funding available by subject area