updated on 30 November 2020
Can I access the government’s postgraduate student loan for the GDL and LPC? What about the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)?
To be eligible for a postgraduate student loan, the GDL must be combined with an added master’s qualification. This is also the case for the LPC – neither course qualifies for the postgraduate loan scheme on its own, but becomes eligible when combined with a master’s.
Many law schools offer LLM GDLs and LPCs, which add a master's qualification by requiring students to complete an extra dissertation-style module. The SQE is a system of exams, not a course in itself, so it is not possible to take out a postgraduate student loan to cover the fees to take 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. See LawCareers.Net’s feature for more information on SQE preparation courses and why they are ‘optional’.
As well as the postgraduate loan, all law schools offer scholarships, so you should investigate these first to see if you are eligible. Some universities work with loan companies such as Future Finance to help students access loans. It is also possible to study for postgraduate legal qualifications part-time, enabling students to combine study with working.
Local authority grants are another 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, LawCareers.Net always recommends applying for a training contract before forking out for these expensive courses. 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 sponsor the course, 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.