How much does law school cost?
The cost of a law school education could exceed $150,000. Tuition alone can range from a few thousand dollars to more than $50,000 a year. Today, a majority of law school students rely on various types of financial aid to help pay for law school.
How do you afford law school?
When calculating the total cost of attending law school, you also have to consider the cost of housing, food, books, transportation, and personal expenses. Law schools will establish a Cost of Attendance (COA). It includes both the fixed costs of tuition and fees, books and supplies, as well as living expenses, transportation, and personal expenses. Consumer debt, such as credit card debt, is not included in your COA and should be paid before you attend law school.
The COA is set by the law school and will vary from school to school; it represents the maximum financial aid you may receive from any source for the academic year.
Am I eligible for financial aid?
You are eligible to receive financial aid, if needed, in an amount not to exceed the COA established by the law school you attend for the academic year.
The law school’s financial aid office will review your financial aid application materials and calculate your eligibility for the various forms of financial aid from all sources. It is important to carefully review your financial aid award and to understand the terms and conditions of all aid offered to you. All applicants for federal student aid (including loans) must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you plan on enrolling in law school at the beginning of the fall term, you can apply for federal financial aid using the FAFSA beginning October 1 of the prior calendar year.
If your financial circumstances change after you complete and file your financial aid forms, notify the financial aid office so that your financial aid award can be revised if necessary.
The financial aid office will notify you of your financial aid eligibility once all application materials have been received and processed if you have been admitted to the school. You may be eligible for several different types of aid, which may be available to bring the cost of attending law school within reach. The amount of aid you receive in each category will depend on your own resources, current federal regulations, and the financial aid policies and resources of each law school. But remember, the total amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive (including loans) cannot exceed—but can be equal to—the total COA for the academic year calculated by the school. So, funding should be available to attend whatever school you choose regardless of your current financial circumstances.
What is independent and dependent status?
All graduate and professional school students are considered financially independent of their parents for the purposes of determining federal aid eligibility. This means that for the purpose of applying for federal aid (including federal student loans), submission of parental information is not required.
Law schools, however, may require parental financial information for institutional grants and scholarships. You should be aware that the law schools have specific policies and procedures regarding independent status for the allocation of institutional funds. These guidelines will vary by school. You should investigate those guidelines for all the schools you are interested in attending.
How does my credit history impact my eligibility?
The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS and private loans are approved on the basis of your credit. If you have a poor credit history, you may be denied a loan. If there is a mistake on your credit report—and there are sometimes mistakes—you will want adequate time to correct any errors. It is essential to clear up problems or other discrepancies before you apply for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS or private student loan.
You can order a free copy of your credit report from one of the major credit reporting agencies online at annualcreditreport.com. You may also mail a request to
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