Funding Law School
While there is some scholarship and grant money available for law school, most students rely on loans from the government or private lenders to finance part of their legal education. Some law schools offer financial aid (grants and loans) primarily on the basis of need; others offer their top candidates merit-based scholarships. Law schools themselves are the best sources of information on possible sources of funding and on procedures for applying for aid. To begin researching scholarships and grants independent of law schools that may be available to you, see Hunter's Grants Guide.
How do I apply for financial aid from law schools?
- You will need to file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA cannot be filed until after January 1st. Your income tax return for the most recent year must be completed before filling out the FAFSA application. Prepare your income tax returns as soon as possible and ask your parents/guardians/spouse to do so as well because some schools may require you to provide copies of their tax returns.
- In addition, many schools have their own financial aid applications or want you to submit a form from a central processor.
- Don’t wait until you have received offers of admission to begin filing financial aid forms. File the forms required by law schools along with your applications, or as soon as possible.
What loans are available for law school?
There are several types of loans available from the federal government through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP) or the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). The maximum Federal Stafford Loan amount graduate and professional students can borrow per year is: $18,500.
- Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan – This is a need-based loan.
Students able to demonstrate need may borrow up to $8,500 per year. The federal government pays interest on the loan while the borrower is a student.
- Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan – this loan is not based on financial need. Students may pay the interest on these unsubsidized loans while in school or request that the interest be deferred and capitalized_ (added to the principal balance)_.
- PLUS Loans – students who are eligible for Stafford Loans and have an absence of bad credit may be able to borrow up to the cost of attendance less other aid in PLUS loans. Law school financial aid offices and Stafford lenders are good sources of information on this new loan source.
- Perkins Federal Loan – these are only available for study at certain schools. The amount is determined on a case-by-case basis. The federal government pays interest on the loan while the borrower is a student.
Private lenders also provide loans to finance law school. Private lenders may charge higher interest rates than does the federal government. They may offer the service of coordinating both federal and private loans through the same lender, if the law school is not a direct lending school.
The financial aid offices of law schools can supply information on private loans offered by lenders such as Law Access (www.accessgroup.org), Law- Loans, or the Educational Resource Institute (TERI).