updated on 30 May 2023
Can I access the government’s postgraduate student loan for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) preparation courses?
To be eligible for a postgraduate student loan, the GDL, LPC and SQE preparation courses must be combined with an added master’s qualification. None of the courses qualify for the postgraduate loan scheme on their own but become eligible when combined with a master’s.
Many law schools offer LLM GDLs and LPCs, with many having recently developed LLM SQE preparation courses too. This adds a master's qualification by requiring students to complete an extra dissertation-style module. It’s important to note that the SQE is a system of exams, not a course in itself, so it’s not possible to take out a postgraduate student loan to cover the fees to take the assessments: SQE1 and SQE2. However, the various optional SQE preparation courses being developed by different law schools will also include the option to combine with a master’s, making them eligible for the postgraduate loan in the same way as the GDL and LPC.
Find out more about The University of Law's SQE, LPC and law conversion courses today:
You can use LawCareers.Net’s guide to SQE preparation courses to compare the SQE prep courses on offer.
As well as the postgraduate loan, all law schools offer scholarships, so you should investigate these first to see whether you’re eligible. Some universities work with loan companies to help students access loans. It’s also possible to study for postgraduate legal qualifications part time, enabling students to combine studying with working.
Still confused about how you can fund the SQE? LawCareers.Net has a specific article dedicated to SQE funding and the various options – you can read it now.
Local authority grants are another avenue to explore. Your local authority can provide you with details of mandatory and discretionary award policies. This will include courses that 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.
You can find out about more funding options via the:
However, LawCareers.Net always recommends applying for a training programme before forking out for these expensive courses. It’s common for solicitors’ 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. Many firms have also revealed plans to continue to use the traditional training model as they adopt the SQE, meaning they’ll continue to cover the course and exam fees for their trainee lawyers. Meanwhile, a number of firms have introduced graduate apprenticeships that’ll work in a very similar way to the traditional training programmes except firms can use the apprenticeship levy to help with funding.
Find out more about graduate apprenticeships via LawCareers.Net’s article, ‘What’s the difference between a solicitor and graduate apprenticeship?’
Having a training programme already lined up will take a lot of the stress out of the postgraduate finance issue. Even if your employer doesn't sponsor the course, at least you know that you’ll have a guaranteed job at the end of your studies. You could also ask them about a potential loan, which you’ll pay back once you start the training programme.
Following the introduction of the SQE, LawCareers.Net also encourages aspiring lawyers to find out what their shortlisted firms are doing in regard to adopting the SQE. Will they continue to offer training programme? Or are they due to replace the traditional model with an alternative form of training such as the graduate solicitor apprenticeship? What funding is on offer via these alternative models too?
It appears that many firms will continue to fund training programmes as with the LPC, partnering with a preferred provider to provide SQE training, with those adopting the graduate solicitor apprenticeship also likely to offer to cover fees as well as a salary for apprentices.
Many firms have added their SQE plans to their LawCareers.Net page, so you can find out what firms are doing by searching for their firm profile on LawCareers.Net.