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If you’re thinking of becoming a barrister, see our specific barrister finances page here.
The total cost of qualifying as a solicitor is considerable. Candidates should think about sources of funding at each stage of the process.
Firstly, there are your undergraduate degree tuition fees to consider. Universities are able to charge fees of up to £9,250 per year; so you should check the cost with individual institutions. However, be aware that the majority of universities have opted to charge the maximum tuition fee of around £9,000-£9,250 per year.
Firstly, there are your undergraduate degree tuition fees to consider. Universities are able to charge fees of up to £9,250 per year; so you should check the cost with individual institutions. However, be aware that most universities have opted to charge the maximum tuition fee of around £9,000-£9,250 per year.
There are two types of loan available for your undergraduate degree:
- A student loan for fees (commonly called the ‘tuition fee loan’) covers the full amount of your fees – the full amount available being set at £9,250 for the academic year 2019-20.
Student living costs loans vary in amount depending on your city of study and whether you live independently or with family. For example, for the academic year 2018-19, the grant for a student living independently and studying in London was up to £11,354.
Most students have to use both types loan, but the loans are repayable only after you have graduated and even then you pay only 9% on any earnings over the repayment threshold of £25,000 a year, £2,083 a month or £480 a week. If you earn less than that, you don’t repay the loan.
Some grants are also available from your university or indirectly when you’ve gone through the normal loans application process (the money actually comes from your local education authority). Government maintenance grants were scrapped by the government in September 2016.
Visit the government’s student finance website for more details of how financial support is administered.
If you did a non-law degree, you have to study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Fees range up to £11,650 (for a full-time course in London in 2019-20), but can be significantly less outside London. Added to these fees are your own living costs.
Expect to pay up to £16,750 for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for a full-time course in London in 2019-20 – although you can pay considerably less outside London. Again, added to these fees are your own living costs.
Student Loans Company postgraduate funding
Postgraduate loans from the government are only available for master’s courses, not diplomas or professional certificates, meaning that postgraduate loans are not available for the GDL or standalone LPC.
However, many law schools and universities now offer LPCs that include a master’s qualification, meaning that you can get a postgraduate loan if you choose to study a LLM LPC.
Postgraduate loans go up to a maximum of £10,609. It is up to the student to decide how they want to divide the loan between paying course fees and living costs.
Future finance loans
The biggest private student loan provider in the UK is Future Finance. Loans range from £2,000 - £40,000, covering both tuition fees and living costs.
These loans are also available to EU and international students, as well as those from the UK.
To secure a Future Finance loan, you need to apply six months before you start your postgraduate course. To find out more about the loan and see if you are eligible, go to the Future Finance website.
Graduate bank loans
Loans for postgraduate study are also available from many high street banks. A graduate loans is a viable way to fund the GDL, but you should exhaust all your other options first.
Loans range from £1,000 to £15,000 and are subject to a suitability assessment. Contact your bank to find out what support it may be able to provide.
Some law firms – particularly international, City or large regional firms – provide GDL and/or LPC sponsorship upon your acceptance of an offer of a training contract. IN some cases, this includes paying back a loan you have already taken out yourself.
Sponsorship is sometimes (although rarely) available from other bodies that take on trainees. For instance, the Government Legal Service offers limited financial help for its future trainees. Use the "sponsorship offered" filter on LawCareers.Net’s training contract search to find firms that offer sponsorship.
If you are recruited during your degree and the firm offers to sponsor you through your postgraduate course(s), it will probably recommend a particular law school or university. You’re then likely to study several modules tailored to the firm’s work areas.
All universities and law schools offer a limited number of scholarships, awards and bursaries. Some may be for students who show exceptional ability, while others exist to support students who could not otherwise afford the course fees. Learn more about what scholarships are available on your university or law school's website, or contact the scholarships team directly.
Some grant-making trusts and charities may offer financial assistance to those seeking to qualify as a solicitor. You can find information about grants, loans and other funds from your local education authority awards officer.
Finally, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) website funding page can provide all prospective and current students with information regarding financial help. The page also provides information about the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme.