FAFSA Delay Update

If applying for financial aid is an important part of your choice of law schools, please read this update.

The Department of Education has announced opens in new window a delay in processing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It plans to send schools FAFSA data for individual students beginning in mid-March. This extraordinary delay is approximately five months behind a typical year’s schedule, so it will impact both students and schools.

What This Means for Law Schools

  • Schools require the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This includes Federal Direct Loans and Federal Grad PLUS Loans.
  • This nationwide challenge is affecting all undergraduate and graduate programs, so the financial aid offices will be balancing their efforts across student populations, including law.
  • School computer systems require updates and testing before they are ready to issue financial aid offers. Once the first batches of FAFSA data are received, it will likely be several weeks before the first financial aid offers are provided to students.

What This Means for Law School Applicants

  • Official financial aid notifications will be delayed — some schools may provide estimates, but this will not be the norm.
  • You should bookmark the financial aid pages for your target schools and check the pages periodically for school-specific updates.
  • As the FAFSA rollout occurs, schools may adjust deadlines in response.
  • As things unfold, schools will communicate any changes to you, likely by email, so it is important to make sure you are checking your messages. 

How You Can Prepare Yourself

  • This year, it is more important than ever to be ready for your first month or two of expenses. Delays in loan processing may create delays in accessing living expenses from student loans in your first term.
  • Understand your eligibility for the federal financial aid programs. The Department of Education has the basic eligibility requirements published online opens in new window. First-year students should pay special attention to bullets two and seven in the linked document. Review your expected cost of attendance (estimates for tuition, food and housing, books, etc.) for your target schools.
  • If you meet all federal eligibility requirements in the link above, the chart below will assist you in determining your eligibility for federal loans.

Financial Aid Eligibility Chart

 Sample Law SchoolMy Choice
Cost of Attendance
(Tuition + Other Costs)
Scholarships and Grants
Remaining Loan (and Work-Study) Eligibility
Annual Federal Unsubsidized Loan
-$20,500 (maximum) 
Eligibility for Grad PLUS or Private Loans

While this is not a guarantee of the aid you may be offered by your schools, it will give you a very good idea of your potential loan eligibility. The Department of Education posts updates to studentaid.gov opens in new window. Please check your schools’ websites for more details.