Government Doctoral Loans of up to £28,673 for 2023/24 entry are available for students from England looking to study a PhD or equivalent postgraduate research programme.
You can get the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if all of the following apply:
- 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’ll have lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years in a row before starting your course
You might also be eligible if you’re a UK national (or family member of a UK national) and you’ve been living in the UK, the EU, Gibraltar, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for the past 3 years. To be eligible, you must have either:
- returned to the UK on or after 1 January 2018 and by 31 December 2020 after living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- been living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein on 31 December 2020
You may be eligible if you’re an EU national, or a family member of an EU national, and all the following apply:
- you have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (no restrictions on how long you can stay)
- you’ve normally lived in the UK, the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or overseas territories for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’)
- you’ll be studying at a university in England
You could also be eligible if you’re:
- the child of a Swiss national and you and your parent have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- a migrant worker from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein with pre-settled status, or a family member of a migrant worker where both have settled or pre-settled status
- a resident of Gibraltar who is a UK or EU national, or their family member
- an EU national and have pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and lived in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for the past 3 years
If you started a course on or after 1 August 2021, you usually need to have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get student finance.
You need to have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021. If you’re joining family members in the UK who have settled status, you can apply for student finance before you have been granted pre-settled status.
Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme. They can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they wish to - for example, to apply on behalf of a child.
You may also be eligible if your residency status is one of the following:
- refugee (including family members)
- humanitarian protection (including family members)
- child of a Turkish worker who has permission to stay in the UK - you and your Turkish worker parent must have been living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- a stateless person (including family members)
- an unaccompanied child granted ‘Section 67 leave’ under the Dubs Amendment
- a child who is under the protection of someone granted ‘Section 67 leave’, who is also allowed to stay in the UK for the same period of time as the person responsible for them (known as ‘leave in line’)
- granted ‘Calais leave’ to remain
- a child of someone granted ‘Calais leave’ to remain, who is also allowed to stay in the UK for the same period of time as their parent (known as ‘leave in line’)
- you’ve been given settled status but not under the EU Settlement Scheme
- you’ve been given indefinite leave to remain because you’ve been the victim of domestic violence
- you’ve been granted indefinite leave to remain as a bereaved partner
- you or your family member have been granted leave under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) or the Afghan Citizen’s Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) you’ve been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme or the Ukraine Extension Scheme
You could also be eligible if you’re not a UK national and are either:
- under 18 and have lived in the UK for at least 7 years
- 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years (or at least half of your life)
You must have 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.
Which courses and levels of study are eligible?
Your course must:
- be a full, standalone doctoral course (not a top-up course)
- have started on or after 1 August 2018
- last between 3 to 8 academic years
- be provided by a university in the UK with research degree awarding powers
It can be:
- full-time or part-time
- taught or research-based, or a combination of both
Examples of postgraduate doctoral qualifications include:
- PhD / DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy)
- EdD (Doctor of Education)
- EngD (Doctor of Engineering)
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 Loan.
What about repayment?
You’ll have to start repaying your loan the April after you finish your studies, but only when your income is over a certain amount (the ‘threshold’ amount), which is currently £21,000 a year. You’ll repay 6% of what you earn over the threshold. So if you’re paid monthly and earn £2,500 per month before tax, you’ll repay 6% of the difference between what you earn and the threshold.
You’ll be charged interest from the day you get the first payment.
How do I apply?
You can apply here.
Will a Doctoral Loan cover all the costs?
The Doctoral loans are intended as a general contribution to the costs of postgraduate study. This means that they aren't tied to the specific cost of a doctoral programme or the living costs incurred by PhD students.
In practice, both of these amounts will vary depending on factors such as the fees charged by your institution and the cost of living in your local area.
The loan should significantly reduce the financial burden of PhD study, but it won't necessarily cover full fees and living costs for a three year doctorate.