Financing Law School
Financial Aid Options
A scholarship or grant is an award that does not have to be repaid. It may be given on the basis of need, or merit, or both. Most scholarships are conferred by individual law schools. Some organizations may also have scholarships to offer. Among them are local bar associations; fraternities, sororities, and other social clubs; religious or business organizations; and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The availability of scholarships and grants is limited, but worth researching. Law school admission and financial aid offices can provide information about the resources available. Be aware that many scholarships and grants are merit-based and may require a certain level of academic performance for continuation. Some schools award merit money shortly after admission, while others may require separate scholarship application forms. Some schools award need-based institutional aid. Confirm with each school what application materials are required and the deadline for submitting those materials. Apply early for all institutional aid from law schools. A number of companies offer tuition reimbursement benefits to their employees and to their employees’ dependents as well.
- (Unsubsidized) Federal Direct Stafford Loan: Law students may borrow up to a total of $20,500 in Federal Stafford Loans each year. The interest rate for these loans is fixed at 6.8 percent annually and a 1 percent loan fee is deducted at disbursement. Interest starts accruing as soon as the loan is disbursed. These loans have a six-month grace period before repayment begins; they have federal forebearance and deferment options, may be refinanced through consolidation, and may be repaid under various repayment options. These loans may be eligible for inclusion under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
- Graduate PLUS Loans for Law Students: Law students who do not have adverse credit may be eligible to apply for a Graduate PLUS loan. If you do have adverse credit, you can apply with an endorser. The endorser must be a US citizen or permanent resident that does not have adverse credit. The Graduate PLUS loan is federally guaranteed. You can borrow Graduate PLUS funds in an amount up to the school’s Cost of Attendance minus the amount of all other financial aid you are receiving (including other loans). Interest accrues while you are in school, and repayment begins following disbursement, but you are allowed to defer repayment until six months after you graduate. The interest rate is 7.9 percent, and a 4 percent loan fee is deducted from the disbursement. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. These loans have federal forebearance and deferment options, may be consolidated, and may be repaid under various repayment options. These loans may be eligible for inclusion under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
- Federal Perkins Loan: This loan may be available at some schools to students with high financial need. Each student’s award is determined by the school based on information obtained from the FAFSA and availability of funds. The maximum annual loan is $8,000.
There are a number of private loan programs available to credit-worthy borrowers who are not eligible for federal student loans. Additionally, some lenders make available postgraduate loans for bar-review study. Eligibility for these bar loans is based on your credit history and the lending institution’s willingness to lend.
The terms and conditions of these programs vary greatly. Pay careful attention to the explanations found in loan application brochures and consumer information. You can also contact the individual programs or visit their websites for further details. And remember, always borrow the minimum loan amount needed to attend the law school you have chosen.
Federal work-study is a program that provides funding for full-time students to work part time during the school year and full time during the summer months. Students sometimes work on campus in a variety of settings or in off-campus nonprofit agencies. ABA standards limit a law student’s paid employment to no more than 20 hours per week. Additional information is available from participating law school financial aid offices. Not all schools participate in the Federal Work-Study Program.
Veterans Educational Assistance
The US Department of Veterans Affairs administers a number of educational benefit programs for veterans. These include, but are not limited to, the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill (9/11 GI Bill). The 9/11 GI Bill assists eligible individuals with tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance, an annual books and supplies stipend, and a one-time rural benefit payment for eligible individuals. In addition to the 9/11 GI Bill providing an education benefit for eligible veterans, the education benefit may also be transferred to dependents under certain conditions.
The 9/11 GI Bill also has a provision that established the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program assists with funding tuition and fee expenses not covered by the 9/11 GI Bill. The benefits of this particular program are exclusively for eligible veterans; the Yellow Ribbon benefits cannot be transferred to dependents. For more information on veterans educational assistance, check with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs on the campuses of the law schools to which you are applying.
NOTE: All figures and calculations are based on current interest rates, loan terms, and fees, and are subject to change.
Why not? (Provide additional feedback below. NOTE: If you have a question or concern regarding your specific circumstances, please go to the Contact Us page.)
Please enter a comment.
Thank you for your feedback.