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Funding Your LLM In South Africa

South African fundingOne important finance fact to not is that LLM courses in South Africa currently receive no funding from the
South African government.

Although the South African government is currently changing the way it finances undergraduate students, it will be some time before government loans and grants, familiar to European and North American LLM students, become the norm. 

In this article we are taking a look at the various ways you could fund your Master of Laws program at a South African law school.

South African law schools scholarships & bursaries

Here is some information about the number of bursaries and scholarships available at some of the most popular South African law schools.

Scholarships in South African Law Schools

University assistance 

The first place to search for funding for your LLM course in South Africa is with your law school or university. Most Advanced Legal Studies Departments – where LLM courses are usually located – or the university's Funding Department will have a list of scholarships and bursaries that are open for applications. Students from outside of South Africa, regardless of if they have qualified for Home student fees, are advised by most institutions to find most or all of their funding from outside of South Africa. Universities in South Africa award financial aid on a case by case basis, with those students with the highest grades and most need for funding taking priority. There is a great deal of competition for funding from law schools, so it's important to apply on time and keep your academic results as high as you can. By following your universities' Funding Department on social media, you should be able to keep up to date with available scholarships and bursaries throughout the year. 

External scholarships & bursaries 

The vast majority of students apply for external scholarships and bursaries. Some students are more comfortable with not applying to their university for financial aid and others feel that the high level of competition may make an application not worth their time. Many students often feel that other students are in more need of the financial support than they are. Every Faculty of Law produces lists of external scholarships and bursaries that are available for their students to apply for and advise on obtaining external funding. Many of these scholarships require details of your expenditures like tuition fees, so you will need to obtain a pro forma tuition fee invoice to apply for external funding before you start your course. 

Law firm sponsorship 

Many LLM students are already working as lawyers in South Africa and are completing an LLM to improve their knowledge and understanding of a specific area of the law. This means that many law firms in South Africa will sponsor their employees to study an LLM. Of course, this might mean that students will be required to work for a set number of years after graduating or to study on a part-time basis whilst working for the law firm. 

Private student loans 

Approaching a bank for a private student loan is more common in South Africa than in many other countries. There are a number of popular banks to apply for a student loan including Nedbank, Fundi, Standard Bank and First National Bank. They all operate on a similar basis with students often needing to offer up a parent with an income (if they don't have one themselves) to pay the interest on the loan while they are studying. Once the student has completed their studies they will usually have to pay back the loan in monthly instalments. 

Working part time & savings 

If you're a lucky – or wise and careful – student, then you could well have built up the savings to cover your studies as well as your loss of earnings. If this is not the case, working part-time while you are studying is a popular way to earn a little extra money. Many universities actively recruit students to work part-time on campus. If you're an international student, then you will find most student visas issued in South Africa allow students to work for 20 hours a week. But it is important to make sure that your work doesn’t interfere with the success of your LLM studies.


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