Scholarships and Grants
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.
- Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan:Law students may borrow up to a total of $20,500 in the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program each year from the US Department of Education. Information about the interest rate and fee structure for this loan is available at studentaid.gov. Interest starts accruing as “simple” interest (it is not compounding while you are in school) once the loan is disbursed. This loan has a six-month grace period before repayment begins. Flexible repayment plans exist, including options based on your household income; payment relief (deferment or forbearance) is available when needed if you are experiencing financial hardship during repayment; and refinancing is possible through the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan program. This loan also qualifies for inclusion in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
- Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate Students (Grad
PLUS): Law students who do not have adverse credit may
borrow the Direct Grad PLUS Loan from the US
Department of Education to help cover their education
costs. If you do have adverse credit, you can apply with
an “endorser.” The endorser must be a US citizen or
permanent resident and cannot have adverse credit. You
can borrow the Direct Grad PLUS loan in an amount up to
the school’s Cost of Attendance (COA) minus the amount
of all other financial aid you are receiving (including
scholarships, grants, and all other loans). As with the
Direct Unsubsidized Loan, interest accrues as “simple”
interest once funds are disbursed. Repayment of the
Direct Grad PLUS loan is deferred while you are in school
and for six months after you are no longer enrolled in law
school. Flexible repayment plans exist, including options
based on your household income; payment relief
(deferment or forbearance) is available when needed if
you are experiencing financial hardship during repayment;
and refinancing is possible through the Federal Direct
Consolidation Loan program. This loan also qualifies for
the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
There are a number of private loan programs available to
credit-worthy borrowers who are not eligible for federal
student loans. Additionally, some lenders offer
postgraduate loans for bar-review study. Eligibility for
private 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. And
always borrow federal loans first, if available.
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 law 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, 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 Offices of Veterans Affairs on the campuses of the law schools to which you are applying.
All loan terms are based on current federal statutes/regulations, and are subject to change.