Loans worth up to £25,000 will be introduced from the 2018/19 academic year to help Doctoral students cover their tuition fees and living expenses, the government confirmed in its 2017 Spring Budget
These Doctoral loans will be non-means-tested, and you'll be able to use them for tuition fees, maintenance or any other study-related costs. They're aimed at students who have lived in England for the last three years for a reason other than study.
Is my programme eligible for a PhD loan?
PhD programmes and Professional Doctorates lasting between three and eight years are eligible, provided they are hosted by a university in the UK.
Doctoral degrees that are 'upgraded' from a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) are eligible; so too are PhDs with an overseas placement, or joint PhDs delivered in partnership with an international university, provided you spend no longer than 50% of the programme's duration studying abroad.
However, PhDs by publication are ineligible. So too are the standalone MPhil and the Master of Research (MRes), as these are covered by the Masters loan.
Full details of course eligibility will be published ahead of applications opening.
Am I eligible?
- be a UK national who has lived in England 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're often funded by a full Research Council studentship.
The eligibility of European Union (EU) students will be announced by the government ahead of the 2018/19 academic year.
How will I receive my PhD loan?
The PhD loan will be paid directly to you by the Student Loans Company (SLC).
Be aware that loan instalments will cease if you leave your course early or change to a programme that isn't eligible for the PhD loan. In such cases, any money that you've borrowed must be repaid.
How will I repay my PhD loan?
The PhD loan will be repaid concurrently with the undergraduate student loan on an income-contingent basis at a rate of 6% on your earnings over £21,000. Students who have previously taken out a Masters loan will repay a single postgraduate debt of up to £35,280.
Interest rates will be set at retail price index (RPI) + 3%. This means that the interest charged will be the annually-reviewed RPI percentage, plus an additional 3%. Interest will accrue from the date the first loan instalment is paid.
Your employer will take the repayments directly from your wage; if you're self-employed, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will calculate how much you must repay on completion of your annual self-assessment tax return.
Any outstanding PhD loan balance will be written off 30 years after the date the balance becomes due for repayment.
Full details on repayment terms will be published in advance of the loans opening for applications.
What are the alternative methods of PhD funding?
Until PhD loans are activated, there are several other forms of PhD funding that you could consider. These include:
- scholarships and bursaries (such as the Graduate Teaching Assistantship)
- Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs)
- Research Council grants
- employer sponsorship