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Postgraduate Doctoral Loans

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs whilst you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD.

If you are an English or an EU student who meets the criteria , you can apply for up to a maximum of £26,445 from the UK government for doctoral programmes beginning in the 2020-2021 academic year.  If you are a student from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you should contact your relevant local funding authority for guidance on what funding is available, if any.

The amount you receive is not based on your income or your family’s. Please note that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may take account of the loan when working out any benefits you receive.

The loan is paid directly to you. You can use it for your course fees and living costs.

You can apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan in any year of your course. But if you apply after your first year, you might not get the maximum amount of loan.
You can get up to £11,222 each year if your course starts on or after 1 August 2020.

The loan is a contribution towards the cost of your study at Brunel University London, and you can choose whether you put this towards your tuition fees or living costs or both. You should also have other funding in place to cover your course and living costs for the duration of your entire course.

You may be eligible, if you’re an EU national, (to help cover costs for the duration of your study) and all the following apply:

  • you’ve normally lived in the European Economic Area or Switzerland for the past 3 years (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’)
  • you’ll be studying at a university or college in England

You could also be eligible if you’re:

  • the child of a Swiss national
  • the child of a Turkish worker
  • a refugee or a relative of one
  • an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one
  • under humanitarian protection or a relative of someone who has been granted it
  • staying in the UK as a stateless person or a relative of one
  • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half your life
  • under 18 and have lived in the UK for at least 7 years
  • granted indefinite leave to remain following the Calais camp clearance in 2016 (known as ‘Calais leave’)
  • the child of someone with Calais leave

If you’re applying because you have Calais leave, your course must start on or after 1 August 2020. You must also have lived in the UK for at least 3 years before the first day of the first academic year.

The Postgraduate Master’s Loan will not be available if:

  • you started your doctoral degree before 1 August 2018
  • your doctoral course is not a full, standalone doctoral course (not a top-up course)
  • your doctoral course is less than 3 years or more than 8 years in duration
  • you’ve received or will receive Research Council funding (for example, studentships, stipends, scholarships and tuition fee support)
  • you’re already getting a social work bursary
  • you’re already getting an Educational Psychology bursary and your course starts on or after 1 August 2020
  • you’re eligible to apply for an NHS bursary (even if you’re not receiving it)
  • you’re already getting payments from Student Finance England for another course that you’re studying
  • you’ve received a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan before - unless you left your course due to illness, bereavement or another serious personal reason
  • you already have a doctoral degree, or a qualification that’s equivalent or higher
  • you’re receiving a doctorate by publication
  • you’re behind in repayments for any previous loans from the Student Loans Company
  • you must be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course. The academic year is a period of 12 months starting on:
    • 1 September, if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December
    • 1 January, if your course starts between 1 January and 31 March
    • 1 April, if your course starts between 1 April and 30 June
    • 1 July, if your course starts between 1 July and 31 July

How does it work?

You can apply for:

  • a non-means tested loan of up to a maximum of £26,445
  • you need to apply within 9 months of the first day of the last academic year of the course
  • you only need to apply once for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan (Student Finance England will write to you in the summer to tell you how much you’ll get in the next academic year)

How do I apply?

Check whether you’re eligible before you apply.Apply online.

If you cannot apply online, you can apply by post.  The paper application form is available to download and complete here.

Eligibility evidence will be required,

Please note that the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan application for the 2020/2021 academic year will be available for completion online or by post at the end of June 2020.

Please monitor Student Finance England’s Facebook and Twitter channels where they will announce when the application is open.

The postgraduate loan explainer films will be available at the beginning of June 2020. 

How will I be paid? 

  • you will get receive the first payment after your course start date, once Brunel University London confirms that you are fully registered on the course
  • the loan will be paid in three instalments of 33%, 33% and 34% across each year of your course
  • after your application has been approved you'll be sent a letter with your payment dates or you can check them in your online Student Finance England account
  • payments are made directly into your valid UK bank account


The earliest you can start repaying is the first April after you leave your course if your annual income is over £21,000, or the April four years after the start of your course if you’re on a course longer than four years.

Change of Circumstances

If you wish to change your application or if your circumstances change including leaving your course early, you must contact Student Finance England.  You will have to pay back any overpayment straight away even if your income is less than £21,000.

Please contact Student Finance England if you have further questions.
Student Finance England Postgraduate Loan team:

  • Telephone: 0300 100 0031
  • Textphone: 0300 100 0622