Postgraduate Loan for PhD Students

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 £28,673. to help cover costs of course fees and living expenses while studying a UK PhD.

Here is a short video about the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan from Student Finance England.

What is the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan?
  • A loan worth up to £28,673
  • To help support the cost of living and course fees while studying a PhD at a UK university.
  • Available to UK or Irish nationals or citizens that have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or indefinite leave to remain so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay.
  • Must be under 60 years old to be eligible and must not be receiving Research Council Funding.

You will be able to borrow up to £28,673. 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
  • Always check first on the UK Government website to make sure you are fully eligible.


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


  • Be a UK or Irish national or citizen that has settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or indefinite leave to remain so there are no restrictions on how long you can stay.
  • 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


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.


How do I apply? 


The window for applications for courses starting in Autumn 2024 will open later in the year.


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.

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 between First day of academic year
1 August – 31 December 1 September
1 January – 31 March 1 January
1 April – 30 June 1 April
1 July – 31 July 1 July


How do repayments work? (updated June 2022)


You won’t have to start repaying your PhD loan back until you are over the repayment threshold.


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


The Government has adjusted the way the interest is charged on postgraduate loans. Previously, the loan would attract an interest payment equal to the RPI (Retail Price Index) plus 3%, which meant the interest added to repayments (in 2021/22) was around 4.5%. However, the sudden steep rise in the cost of living has increased the RPI, which meant that students could have been facing an increase of up to 12%.


The government has stepped in to ensure that in September 2022 borrowers face a maximum interest rate of 7.3% rather than 12%, after a rise in the rate of RPI.


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 England for further information.


Postgraduate Doctoral Loan in Wales


Applications are available for Welsh doctoral loans. Students who are resident in Wales will also be eligible for a PhD loan - you may be eligible for a loan of up to £27,880. 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. Search our listings of the latest PhD Funding available by subject area