updated on 19 November 2019
I have graduated from my undergraduate degree and need to complete the GDL and LPC before I can start a training contract, but am really going to struggle to finance these hugely expensive courses. I have heard about postgraduate loans and am wondering if GDL and LPC students are eligible?
Unfortunately, the Student Loans Company's loan for postgraduate students does not cover the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or the standalone Legal Practice Course (LPC). However, the postgraduate loan is open to all master's students in England and Wales, which includes some, but not all of the LLM LPCs offered by law schools, which add a master's qualification onto the end of the LPC by way of an extra dissertation-style module. Students wanting to take out a postgraduate loan to study a LLM LPC should check with the relevant course provide to confirm if that particular course is eligible for postgraduate loan funding.
There are also other funding options available. All law schools offer scholarships, so you should investigate these first to see if you are eligible. Some universities work with loan companies to help provide students financial aid. For example, Future Finance has a relationship with BPP Law School, offering BPP students loans to cover tuition fees and living expenses. Elsewhere, the University of Law has withdrawn its link-up with Metro Bank, but does offer a 5% discount for students able to make early payment. Don’t forget that several law schools also offer the GDL over a two or three-day week, which would give you the opportunity to work alongside your GDL.
Some high-street banks offer specialised loans for those wishing to study for professional qualifications, However, there does seem to be an increasing unwillingness to lend to students, with most of the major banks withdrawing their loan schemes over the past few years.
Local authority grants are also an avenue to explore. Your local authority will be able to provide you with details of mandatory and discretionary award policies. This will include courses which the authority considers suitable for the purposes of financial support. The GDL is categorised as a discretionary award. These awards are limited and you should check with your local authority when to apply.
However, we would always recommend that the best course of action is to apply for a training contract before forking out for these expensive courses – or at least the LPC. It is common for firms to pay future trainees' GDL and LPC fees and a number of larger firms also offer a maintenance grant to fund living costs while you complete your studies. Having a training contract already lined up will take a lot of the stress out of the postgraduate finance issue. Even if your employer doesn't want to gift you the funds, at least you know that you will have a guaranteed job at the end of your studies, while you could also ask them about a potential loan, which you will pay back once you start your training contract.