Government pulls the plug on GDL loans

Non-law students who want to become lawyers have been left stranded after the Government clarified a rule on career development loans (CDLs), meaning this subsidised source of funding is no longer available for conversion courses.

Until recently CDLs to fund the GDL were offered by three high street banks. These loans are attractive to students as they get a lengthy repayment holiday while the Government foots the interest for the duration of the course. Fees for the GDL can amount to as much as £6,000 at some law schools.

It has been widely accepted that CDLs can be used to pay for law conversion courses, with many law schools listing them as a potential source of funding. Two leading law schools told Lawyer that they did not realise this was a misinterpretation of the rules.

The Government’s Learning and Skills Council (LSC) said in a statement: “CDL guidance clearly states that a CDL cannot be used to fund courses intended to lead to another course rather than to employment. However, in August the LSC was approached by one of the CDL banks requesting clarification relating to the eligibility of GDLs and this was given.”