Here is a list of steps you must take to apply for financial aid.
If You Are Applying for Federal Aid
- The financial aid process begins with the gathering of information about the specific financial aid application procedures and deadlines for the schools that you are interested in attending. You should not wait until you receive admission to begin the process. In fact, you should be investigating the financial aid procedures and deadlines as you are investigating the admission application requirements.
- Prepare your federal income tax returns as early as possible after the first of the year. Most schools will want to see a copy of your actual tax return, so be sure to keep a photocopy for your files. The FAFSA requires information that is requested directly from your tax return. While financial aid information packets may be available from some law school financial aid offices in the fall, the FAFSA cannot be filed until after January 1. (It will not be accepted if received before the first of the year.) However, you can file any time after the first of the year—the earlier, the better.
- Obtain the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. FAFSA is a need-analysis tool developed by the US Department of Education. As the name indicates, there is no charge for the collection and processing of data or the delivery of financial aid through this form. Do not pay to process your free application.
- When completing the FAFSA form, you will designate the names and school codes of up to 10 law schools to which you are applying. Additional schools may be added once the FAFSA is processed. Information on school codes is available from any law school financial aid office or at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
- The FAFSA form asks for information about your income, assets, and other financial resources. Be
sure to answer “yes” to the following two questions:
All graduate/professional students are considered financially independent of their parents for the federal loan programs.
- Are you a graduate or professional student?
- Have you completed a bachelor’s degree by July 1 of the year you will be attending law school?
- The law schools to which you apply will determine your eligibility for federal financial aid. The amount offered by each law school will vary, and each student’s financial need will be assessed individually because costs vary from school to school. You will receive notification of your financial aid package once all information has been received, if you have been offered admission to the school.
- Once you determine the school that you will attend, you will need to apply for any loan funding you need to borrow. Follow the instructions provided by the school to complete the required loan application materials. Remember, you cannot borrow more than what the financial aid staff has determined you are eligible to borrow. Also, you should borrow the minimum amount possible to attend the school you have chosen.
If You Are Applying for Institutional Aid
Call, write, e-mail, or visit the website of the financial aid office of the law schools to which you are applying. Some schools may require you to submit information in addition to the FAFSA. You may be asked to complete an institutional financial aid application or an additional form such as Need Access or CSS Profiles. It is important to know which schools require additional information. Many schools have very early filing deadlines.