Can a UK University Leaver Pay Back Law School Loans?

Can a UK University Leaver Pay Back Law School Loans?

England has the highest student debts in the developed world thanks to a formidable combination of high tuition fees, rising interest rates whilst studying and maintenance grants scrapped in favour of loans. By the time the poorest students leave university, they will have £57,000 in debt from loans incurred by a 3-year course. Those who are not eligible for the maintenance grants will incur an average debt of £42,000. according to the IFS.  If you are wondering how you can repay your student debt once you leave uni and start working, consider several factors that can affect your ability to earn a good salary and enable you to pay back what you owe.

Salaries of Law Graduates Depend on Different Factors

On top of an intense interest in law, you might be attracted to this field of study because of the high remuneration expectations. However, keep in mind that law salaries depend on several factors. The type of work that you will do and the kind of firm that hires you as well as your location can affect your pay.  There is no minimum salary for trainee lawyers but the Law Society suggests at least £20,913 for those in London and £18,457 for other locations. Note that the salaries for trainees are different in Scotland and are generally lower than the rates for the rest of the UK at £18,000.

Salary Levels Are Expected to Increase After Qualifying

The picture after the training period is expected to look rosier especially if you are one of the lucky ones to be hired by the Magic Circle which is composed of London’s most esteemed firms. Expect to pocket over £71,000 if you stay with the Magic Circle. As you gain experience, your pay also increases reaching up to £80,000 and over £100,000 if you’re a partner. These figures are typical of earnings in London and big cities but will be lower for other locations and smaller firms. Commercial and international law work also pay the best compared to jobs performed by lawyers in the areas of personal injury and family law.

Paying Back Your Student Loans

Raising finances for law school is not a bad decision at all because if you are a high earner, it is technically possible to repay your student loan. The law says that under Plan 1, you start paying your loan the April after you finish/leave your course if your income is more than £18,330. You’ll stop the payments if the income dips below this amount. Under Plan 2, the earliest you can repay your debt is when your income reaches £25,000. There is no penalty if you pay your debts early but it does not make sense to overpay student loans unless you will be in a very well paid job all your life according to Martin Lewis of If you have a £50,000 student loan, you can pay off your debt in 25 years if you have an income of £40,000 per annum.

Under the assumption that you have a high-paying job and you’ll benefit from yearly pay increases & promotions or become a senior partner, you can pay off law school loans within the 30-year grace period. Unfortunately, most graduates will have difficulties paying back student loans not only because of low earnings but also due to high interest rates and fixed loan costs. And in such cases, the government will have to forgive some or the entire debt.

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