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Doctoral Loan

If you’re starting a full standalone doctoral course, you could get a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan to help with your course fees and living costs while you’re studying. Doctoral loans are available for many of our doctorate degrees and are provided by Student Finance

Am I eligible?

You can apply for a Doctoral Loan if you are:  

  • Studying a full, standalone doctoral course (not a top-up course) that lasts between 3-8 academic years

  • Under 60 years old (59 or younger) at the beginning of your course

  • Studying at a UK University

  • A UK resident ordinarily resident in England

  • Not receiving Research Council Funding

Please visit GOV.UK for full eligibility criteria and terms and conditions. 

What subjects can I receive a Doctoral Loan to study?

There are no restrictions on subjects, disciplines, research areas or topics.

How much can I borrow?

If your course starts in academic year 2021/22 you can apply for a loan of up to £27,265 towards your tuition fees, study expenses or living costs. If your course starts in 2022/23 you'll be able to apply for a loan of up to £27,892. You don't have to hold an offer of a place to apply for a loan and you can even apply if you have an existing undergraduate and/or Masters loan.

Do I have to borrow the full amount?

No, it’s possible to borrow a smaller amount to cover tuition fees or living costs. There is no minimum loan request amount and you can amend the amount requested, providing it's not less than has already been paid to you, up to one month before the end of the academic year.

How do I apply?

You can either apply online through the Student Finance website or download and print the application forms to send by post. You’ll only need to apply once, even if your course is longer than one year.

Note: The deadline for applying is within nine months of the first day of the last academic year of the course. Applying late could impact on the maximum amount of loan you receive so it is important to apply as early as possible.

For more information on how and when to apply visit GOV.UK.

Will I still be eligible for the alumni discount if I receive a Doctoral Loan?

If you've previously completed a Staffordshire University undergraduate or postgraduate taught degree (excluding HND and foundation degrees) you may be entitled to a discount of up to 25% off your course fees.

If you’d like information on how this relates to your circumstances, please contact our Enquiries Team.

Please note alumni discount is reviewed annually and may change. The maximum discount rate for students commencing new course registrations in 2021/22 is 25%. To receive the full discount of 25% students must have progressed onto further study within two years of completing their previous studies.* Discounts will be reduced pro-rated if a student leaves the course which results in a fee reduction. If you have any further queries, please contact

*Students who progress onto further study more than two years after completing their previous studies will receive 10% off their course fees.

When will I be paid my Doctoral Loan?

The loan will be paid directly into your bank account and split equally over the duration of your course. Each year you’ll receive three instalments that will be paid on the following dates:  

  • Course start date
  • Course start date plus 4 months
  • Course start date plus 7 months

You’ll receive your first payment within 3-5 working days of the University confirming to the Student Loans Company that you have started your course.

When will I have to repay my Doctoral Loan?

The earliest you’ll start repaying your loan is from the April after you leave your course and only then if your annual income is over the minimum threshold (currently frozen at £21,000 until 2021).  

You'll repay 6% of your annual income over £21,000. If your salary is £30,000 per annum, the 6% would apply to £9,000, meaning you'd repay around £45 per month. If your income falls below £21,000 a year, for any reason, repayments will stop until your income rises above the threshold again.

For further details including how much you’ll repay and how interest on the loan is calculated visit Student Loan Repayment.

Will I be charged interest on my Doctoral Loan?

Yes, Doctoral Loans will be subject to interest in the same way as other student loans. For further information on how interest is calculated visit Student Loan Repayment.

Are Doctoral Loans means tested?

No, Doctoral Loans aren’t means-tested. You can apply regardless of your existing income or savings.

Can I apply for a Doctoral Loan if I already have a Masters Loan and/or undergraduate loan?

Yes, other student loans won't affect your eligibility for a Doctoral Loan. Repayments for your Doctoral Loan will be combined with those for your Master’s Loan. Undergraduate debt will remain separate.

Can I apply for a Doctoral Loan if I'm studying part-time?

Yes, however, you must state your intended completion time when you apply. This can't be longer than eight years.

Can I apply for a Doctoral Loan if I'm studying a professional doctorate?

Yes, professional doctorates are eligible. This covers courses such as the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) EdD (Doctor of Education) and others.

If I’m initially registered for an MPhil, will my PhD programme still be eligible?

Yes. Many PhD students are initially registered for the MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and then ‘upgraded' to a PhD. This is normal practice and will not affect your eligibility for a PhD loan.

However, you can't receive a Doctoral Loan for a standalone MPhil. You should apply for a Master’s Loan instead.

Can I apply if I already hold a postgraduate research qualification, such as an MPhil?

Yes, provided it’s not a PhD-level (level 8) qualification. A research masters such as an MRes (Master of Research) or MPhil (Master of Philosophy) will not make you ineligible. However, you cannot receive a PhD loan to study these courses. Your intended qualification must be a PhD (or equivalent doctorate).

Where can I find further information about the Doctoral Loan?

  • GOV.UK – for full eligibility criteria and application links  

  • Find a PhD – has a comprehensive Question & Answers Section  

For further information or if you have any queries about financial support for doctorate students, please contact our Enquiries Team.

Where can I find other sources of support for my research degree?

Research Councils support different areas of research in the UK and take responsibility for associated postgraduate funding especially at doctoral level. There are seven Research Councils who together invest around £380 million into PhD training every year.

For further information visit UK Research and Innovation/funding and Prospects/research-council-funding

Turn2Us' Search for Grants is a useful starting point to identify possible sources of funding or alternatively you can search for possible sources of funding at