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.
- Federal Stafford Loans– As a graduate student, you can receive up to $20,500 each year in Federal Stafford Loans. There is no longer any deferred interest option, i.e. subsidy, on these amounts for graduate students; interest accrues from day one. The interest rate for Stafford student loans for graduate students is 6.8% fixed. For loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2010, the loan origination fee is 1.0%.
- Federal Graduate PLUS Loans– To borrow amounts above the Stafford limit, you can tap Federal Graduate Plus Loans, for which you need to demonstrate creditworthiness. For Plus loans, there are no set annual or aggregate limits. You may borrow up to your full cost of attendance (set by the law school), minus any other financial aid you receive. The interest rate for Graduate Plus Loans is 7.9% fixed plus an up-front fee of 4 percent of the amount borrowed.
- Private lenders also provide loans to finance law school. Private lenders may charge higher interest rates than those charged by 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 lenders.
Financial Aid, Grants and Scholarship Web Site Links
Law School Admission Council (LSAC): contains an informative section on financing law school including an on-line video. This is a good source for up-to-date info.