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Postgraduate Doctoral Loan 2020-21

Students starting a postgraduate doctoral degree in 2019/20 can apply for a loan of up to £25,700 to help fund tuition fees and living costs.

What is the Postgraduate Doctoral Student Loan?

Students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £26,445 for the full length of the course.

For example, if you are studying full-time over four years and apply for the maximum loan amount of £26,445 then your payments would be £6,611 in each academic year.

The Postgraduate Doctoral loan is administered by Student Finance England (SFE).

You can apply in any year of your course, however you may not get the maximum loan amount if applying after your first year.

Please be aware that the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan is intended to be a contribution towards the cost of studying a Doctoral degree. The funds provided by the loan will not cover the full costs of study, and students will need to make adequate additional provision to ensure they can fund their studies.

How do I apply?

Applications for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan will be available in the summer. 

Students only need to apply once for the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan as the application and funding is for the duration of the course. If you are studying over three or more academic years, you will get a letter each year confirming your payments for the upcoming academic year.

Online application

The quickest way to apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan is online 

If you have applied for student finance in the past, you should use your existing login information.

When you register you’ll be given a unique Customer Reference Number and be asked to create a password and secret answer.

The first time you apply you’ll be asked for proof of their identity. You can do this by providing valid UK passport details on the application. If you don’t have a UK passport, you may have to send evidence, such as a non-UK passport or a UK birth or adoption certificate.

Paper application form

If you are unable to apply online, you can download a paper application form

It is useful to download the application notes with the application form to prevent any missing information or evidence which may cause delays.

Application deadline: Students should apply for finance as soon as soon as possible once applications are open. They must apply no more than nine months after the first day of the last academic year of their course.

Applications take between 6-8 weeks to be assessed by student finance, we recommend all students make their applications as soon as possible in order to have all funding in place by the start of term.

Once your application has been assessed you will receive an entitlement letter - please make sure all amounts are as you requested.

Am I eligible?

To be able to apply for a Doctoral loan you must:

  • be a UK or EU national* who has lived in England or the EEA or Switzerland for the last three years for a reason other than study

  • be aged 59 or under on the start date of your course

  • not already hold a PhD or equivalent qualification

  • not be receiving a Research Council studentship

Most students pursuing PhD study within a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) or Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will therefore be ineligible, since they are often funded by a full Research Council studentship. 

*The Government has confirmed that EU students starting university in the 2020/21 academic year will have access to Student Finance England funding for the duration of their course in England.

Please see here for further information on the continuation of EU student funding for 2020/21.

You may also be able to apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan if you are:

  • a member of the Armed Forces, or a relative of someone in the Armed Forces and studying on a distance learning course at a UK institution whilst they are posted abroad;

  • a refugee, or a relative of one;

  • under Humanitarian Protection, or a relative of someone under Humanitarian Protection;

  • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or at least half their life,

  • an EEA or Swiss migrant worker, or a relative of one;

  • the child of a Swiss national, or the child of a Turkish worker.

Is my chosen course eligible?

To receive a Doctoral loan, your course must:

  • be full standalone Doctoral course and not a ‘top up’ from a lower-level qualification

  • last between 3 to 8 academic years

  • have started on or after 1 August 2018

  • be provided by a UK university

The course can be full-time or part-time, taught or research-based or a combination of both.

It can also be distance learning but only if you are living in England on the first day of the academic year and stay living within the UK for the full duration of the course.

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). However, you must initially register for the full doctoral degree.

Examples of postgraduate doctoral qualifications include:

  • PhD / DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) 

  • EdD (Doctor of Education)

  • EngD (Doctor of Engineering)

How and when do I receive my loan? 

Payments are made to your bank account in three equal instalments over the course of the academic year (usually September, January and April).

Once you have fully enrolled at King’s the Student Funding Office will confirm your registration to SFE which will trigger the release of the first instalment to you.

The total loan will be divided equally across each year(s) of your course.

You must have a UK bank or building society account in your own name.

Please contact the Credit Control Department at King’s to inform them that you are receiving the loan. They will reschedule your tuition fee payments into three equal instalments in line with your loan instalments.

Repaying your student loan

Repayments are made through automatic salary deduction when you earn above £21,000.

Repayments will begin the April after you finish or leave your course, or the April four years after the beginning of your course, whichever is sooner. 

The repayment rate is 6% of gross earnings above £21,000. So if you are paid monthly and earn £2,500 per month before tax, you will repay 6% of the difference between what you earn and the threshold.

If you are self-employed, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will calculate how much you must repay based on your annual self-assessment tax return.

Interest will be charged from the day of the first payment until the loan is repaid in full or cancelled. The interest rate is Retail Price Index (RPI) + 3%. RPI is a measure of UK inflation and measures changes to the cost of living in the UK. This is updated in September each year using the RPI from March of that year.

Any outstanding debt will be written off 30 years after the date on which the loan became due for repayment.

Undergraduate and postgraduate loans are paid simultaneously. If you have a Master's and a Doctoral loan you will pay back a single postgraduate debt.

What if I need to interrupt or withdraw from my course?

A change in a student’s circumstances can affect your eligibility.

You should complete and return a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan Change of Circumstances form as soon as possible. This can be downloaded from your online student finance account.

If a change to your details results in your being overpaid, you will need to repay any money you are not entitled to. In this case, the repayment threshold will not apply and you might have to repay the amount you have been overpaid earlier.

Where can I get more information?

To find out more about the scheme, please contact the Student Funding Office.

Student Finance England also have a handy guide and video.


The College has tried to give students an early opportunity to begin their research of student funding. Although every effort has been made to ensure that information provided is both helpful to prospective candidates and accurate at the time of its publication, it is possible that some information may be outdated or superseded before the start of the 2019-20 academic year.


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