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Funding your LLM in the USA
Many domestic and international graduates who hope to further their education by taking an LLM at a US law school worry about how to fund their studies. Finding sufficient funds to live comfortably and to pay course fees can be a struggle, but it shouldn't mean you give up on the chance to attend a US university altogether. There are a number of options worth considering, especially if the program is likely to be a sound investment and will lead to a marked increase in your earnings.
Ask your employer for help
For law graduates who are already employed in the legal profession, it’s reasonable to ask your employer for help with funding your studies – especially if you have shown promise and dedication to the company. Think back to your initial interview, was the idea of you receiving funds to further your education floated then? If so try mentioning the idea to your manager, but only after a reasonable amount of time has passed. Many organisations expect their staff to work for them for a prescribed amount of years before they agree to pay course fees. Moreover, they may also expect a significant commitment when the course has finished, so if you’d prefer to move on in the foreseeable future, you may need to seek out a loan elsewhere.
Approach your bank for a loan
Many student loans companies will only fund students who are intending to study at home. In the US, the Federal Student Aid program has plenty of information for domestic students who would like to apply for a federal or government loan. There are also special dispensations for students who lost a parent in the Iraq or Afghanistan conflict. For people coming to study from abroad, there is an International Student Loan available in the US, however not all schools are eligible for the aid. Other international students and some US students, may have to rely on a bank loan, there are many lenders that are willing to offer the funds, but always shop around for the best deals in terms of interest and repayment schedules.
See if you qualify for a scholarship or grant
There are a range of grants, bursaries and scholarships available both in the US and around the world, to students who wish to complete their education at a US law school. These may come from private charities, organisations or governments and do not need to be repaid. Some grants for LLM courses are given to applicants who are exceptionally talented, but others are reserved for a specific set of students, those of a certain nationality, ethnicity or religion for example. You can start searching for these awards by going to the LLM Guide scholarship directory and entering your details. There are also two LLMstudy Bursaries available to students each year worth £500 each. They are quick and easy to apply for – please click here for more information and to apply.
Ask your prospective university for financial assistance
Although university funds are limited, some, like Harvard, have a form that students can fill in to apply for financial aid. Most institutions want to enrol students who show potential, regardless of their ability to pay the course fees independently, so check with the finance office of your chosen school to find out more about what they can offer.
Work on campus if you’re an international student
The majority of US students studying for an LLM part-time will continue to work whilst they complete the program, but for full-time students there are less free hours. However if you can find a position which is flexible and you can cope with the demands of academic and paid work, this can be an effective way of reducing your debt.
International students will usually be granted an F1 visa for an LLM program which means they can only work on campus for the first year of their studies. This can be in the bookshop, cafeteria or library, but not for longer than 20 hours per week. If your studies continue for longer than one year, the US immigration service may grant you permission to work off campus.
Find out more about the Fulbright Commission
For students from the UK, the Fulbright Commission can provide a range of grants on selected academic courses in the US. The awards scheme was created in 1948 in order to encourage an ‘educational exchange’ between the USA and the UK. Graduates who want to fund their LLM course with a Fulbright grant should expect a competitive application process – including a demanding interview, but those who are successful can look forward to generous support.
Most graduates find themselves funding their LLM through a combination of the above methods, so don't lose heart if one avenue proves fruitless. Furthermore, it’s always worth contacting your schools Student Financial Office, they will hold more information on sources of outside funding identified for their students.Find your PERFECT LLM PROGRAM