Funding Your LL.M
The cost of completing an LL.M will be a major consideration for most prospective students. Prices do vary within the institutions offering an LL.M, but in general a student should expect to spend in the region of £10,000 in course fees to complete their LL.M in the UK and upwards of $30,000 in the US. In addition to these fees the student must take in to consideration living expenses, which will vary enormously from university to university.
For some students these costs can be met from personal or family funds. The diverse nature of LL.M courses available allows students to spread the cost of their study over a period of time and to cover these costs by working. The length of time taken to complete the course must be offset against the possible salary gains available on completion, but in reality most students will undertake to complete the LL.M in the shortest possible, financially viable time frame.
Many students however will not have the opportunity to work in order to fund their studies and must seek some alternative form of funding in order to meet the costs of completing an LL.M. The first port of call for these students should be the university itself. Many institutions offer funding to students in the form of grants or scholarships. Whilst funding for the LL.M is not as readily available as for PhD it can be obtained, but the availability of funding is limited and extremely competitive. Clearly students must balance its availability against their requirements for the LL.M course they wish to undertake and should consider other funding options in preference to undertaking a course which will not meet there specific requirements.
In the UK students may be entitled to a student grant or loan, dependant upon family income, from the Student Loans Company. This amount would cover some of the cost of the course fees, which in 2007/2008 was £3,070 or the amount charged for the tuition fees whichever is less. It can be seen that this amount alone will not cover the cost of undertaking an LL.M and the student will be required to meet the shortfall elsewhere. If taken out these loans will be subject to interest payments and must be repaid in conjunction with the prescribed repayment schedule providing the students has completed higher education and is earning more than £15,000 per year. The student loans company will not provide maintenance support, for living expenses, for postgraduate students.
UK students may also be eligible for a Career Development Loan providing they meet certain criteria and are not eligible for any other kind of funding such as a Student Loan. These loans are available up to £8,000 and can be taken out with either Barclays, the Co-operative Bank or the Royal Bank of Scotland. Interest is payable and payments can be made up to five years after completing the course.
A number of UK banks offer loans to students for postgraduate study with preferential interest rates and guaranteed acceptance provided undergraduate study has been recently completed. It is in the best interests of the student to compare these services for themselves and to consider whether the debt incurred is beneficial in comparison to any increase in employment opportunities following completion of their LL.M.
In reality for most students it will be necessary to consider and use a number of the above options in order to complete and fund the LL.M. It will also be a consideration whether the advantages of taking a shorter time to complete the LL.M are outweighed by the funding considerations in comparison to a longer study time and a greater opportunity to fund the course through work.