Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home Pre-Law Advising Applying to Law School Paying for Law School - Planning can make it affordable!

Paying for Law School - Planning can make it affordable!

Law school is an investment in your future. The cost of attending law school can be expensive (private school tuition can be $60k+ per year), but there are ways to reduce and limit costs through careful planning in the application process. Many students will finance their degrees (i.e. use federal loans) and loan forgiveness may be an option in certain circumstances for those making a commitment to public service.

During the application process, consider how to minimize debt while meeting your goals through:

  • merit awards offered to you by law schools where your scores are at or above the 75th percentile
  • public schools with lower tuition
  • schools with loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) 
  • living with family to keep down housing costs
  • a part time law school program, if you wish to work
  • speaking with AccessConnex (a free service!) about loan financing options, including the rules for federal loan forgiveness

In anticipation of financing your legal education:

  • consider the kind of work and salary you plan for after law school
  • ensure a good credit record by paying your bills on time
  • pay off consumer debt, so that it is not an expense during law school

Using a student loan calculator can help you put the debt into context by providing you with a monthly payment estimate in light of your anticipated salary. Scroll down for other resources.

Sources of Funds

Grants & Scholarships

Grants and scholarships are offered by law schools based upon criteria set by the school. Most awards are made based on merit, reflecting considerations as GPA and LSAT score. However, awards can also be made on the basis of financial need, ethnicity, specific talents, residency or other qualifications. Check with each law school early in the application process for more information.

Law schools commonly offer merit scholarships to highly qualified applicants with an offer of admission, and are the source of additional scholarships as well. Be strategic in picking the schools to which you apply. Discuss your school targets with the Pre-Law Office.

If you are awarded a grant or a scholarship, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • Will it be renewed automatically every year? If so, will it be renewed for the same amount or will the amount be adjusted?
  • If the amount is adjusted, what are the criteria for making the adjustments?
  • If the award is not renewed automatically, can I reapply for this or another grant or scholarship next year?
  • Will my academic performance affect the amount of my award in subsequent years?
  • Does this grant or award have a service component?
  • Are there any special application procedures or deadlines of which I need to be aware?

Personal Savings/Family Support

If possible, set aside your own funds to help pay for law school. Talk with family members about whether they can help with law school expenses. Some students choose to live at home during law school to avoid paying rent.

Federal Loans, Repayment Options, & Forgiveness

Many students rely primarily on federal loan programs to finance law school. Total federal aid is available to cover (but not exceed) the law school’s student expense budget, which includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other expenses. Because you are applying for graduate study, you are considered independent of your parents for these loans. More detailed information on loans and loan repayment options are at the links below at the bottom of this page.

    • (Unsubsidized) Federal Direct Stafford Loan: Law students may borrow up to a total of $20,500 in Federal Stafford Loans each year. The interest rate for these loans is fixed annually and a 1 percent loan fee is deducted at disbursement. Interest starts accruing as soon as the loan is disbursed. These loans have a six-month grace period before repayment begins; they have federal forbearance and deferment options, may be refinanced through consolidation, and may be repaid under various repayment options. These loans may be eligible for inclusion under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
    • Graduate PLUS Loans for Law Students: Law students who do not have adverse credit may be eligible to apply for a Graduate PLUS loan. If you do have adverse credit, you can apply with an endorser. The endorser must be a US citizen or permanent resident that does not have adverse credit. The Graduate PLUS loan is federally guaranteed. You can borrow Graduate PLUS funds in an amount up to the school’s Cost of Attendance minus the amount of all other financial aid you are receiving (including other loans). Interest accrues while you are in school, and repayment begins following disbursement, but you are allowed to defer repayment until six months after you graduate. These loans have federal forbearance and deferment options, may be consolidated, and may be repaid under various repayment options. These loans may be eligible for inclusion under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
    • Options for various repayment plans and loan forgiveness will not become applicable until you graduate from law school, but you should explore those options now, so that you have an accurate set of expecations in connection with the amount of funds you are borrowing. Accessconnex is a free service to assist students in becoming familiar with these terms and programs.

Private Loans

Credit is an important factor in securing private loans. Interest rates, fees, and terms of repayment vary significantly. It is best to work with your law school financial aid office BEFORE making a decision about taking private loans for law school. Federal loans have far more favorable terms.

There are a number of private loan programs available to credit-worthy borrowers who are not eligible for federal student loans. Additionally, some lenders make available postgraduate loans for bar-review study. Eligibility for these bar 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. Private loans are more expensive than federal ones, so be sure to tap federal loans first.


The American Bar Association no longer sets limits on the number of hours a first-year law student can work per week, although some law schools may individually do so. Many law students obtain summer employment and part-time employment during the school year. This can help reduce the amount of money borrowed. Be aware, however, that working during the first year of law school while enrolled in a full time program will be very challenging due to the academic demands on your time.

A part-time law school program is more feasiblel for students who want to continue to work full time and there are a number of them in the NYC metropolitan area. Be aware, however, that full time work and part time law school is a very demanding schedule.


It is often said, “If you live like a lawyer in law school, you will live like a law student once you graduate.” Frugality can be your best friend

Veteran's Benefits

The Post-9/11 GI Bill can pay your full resident tuition at a public school.

The Yellow Ribbon program can help make up the difference between the cost of public school tuition and the cost of tuition at private schools

There is much on-line at the VA websites above. You might also want to check user friendly resources such as and other veteran's resources for simple explanations about how the programs work. Speaking with the law schools themselves will be important to understanding the details and the rules of making use of these benefits. 


Helpful Resources

Scholarship Database

AccessLex Law School Scholarship Databank


Loan Calculator

AccessLex Student Loan Calculator

LRAP Database

Loan repayment assistance programs ("LRAPs") provide financial aid to law school graduates working in the public interest sector, government, or other lower-paying legal fields. In most cases, this aid is given to graduates in the form of a forgivable loan to help them repay their annual educational debt.

The American Bar Association maintains a list of LRAP public interest repayment programs


Additional Financial Aid Information– Free annual credit report.

AccessLex -
Personal finance and other financial aid information. 

Equal Justice Works  Information on loan repayment and forgiveness options. – Standardized financial information about Federal loans, and – more information on federal student aid.–Financial aid search engine. – Student guide to financial aid. – Financial aid for law school section. Also refer to the Statement of Good Admissions and Financial Aid Practices at: -  Information on federal loan forgiveness.

Document Actions

Contact us:
Room 712, East Building | t: (212) 772-4889 | e:

Pre-Law Advising website feedback: email us
695 Park Ave
NY, NY 10065