Various financial aid programs are available to law students and are divided into three categories: scholarships, loans, and employment. Scholarships come from institutional sources and are subject to fund limitations. Loans are generally unlimited in availability. Some loans are credit-based. Total financial aid received may not exceed the published cost of attendance (COA) of approximately $70,000 and $60,000 for day and evening programs, respectively, for the 2012–13 academic year. Eligibility for federal student aid requires half-time status. Half-time status, for the purpose of financial aid, is defined as six or more credit hours per semester. Half-time enrollment during the eight-week summer session is defined as three or more credit hours.
Students applying for federal student loans must first submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Application procedures are available online at http://law.cua.edu/finaid
Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan
Through this program students may borrow up to $20,500 per academic year. Information about the loan application process is provided in April by the law school’s Office of Financial Aid. Eligibility requires the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as the tool that establishes the applicant’s citizenship status. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for the Stafford Loan. The interest rate for borrowers is 6.8 percent. Interest begins accruing at the time the loan is disbursed — typically one half the amount requested is disbursed at the start of each semester. The repayment period begins approximately six months after graduation or the student ceases to be enrolled at least halftime. The standard repayment period is 10 years, but may be extended to 25 years, with options to use graduated repayments for both standard and extended repayment periods. Also available is an Income-Based Repayment option. Stafford Loans are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Graduate PLUS Loan
Graduate and professional (e.g., law) students are eligible to borrow through the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan program. Terms are similar to Stafford loans although the interest rate is fixed at 7.9 percent. Payment of principle and interest may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half time. The repayment period typically is 10 years, but may be extended to 25 years. Income-based repayment is also available. The maximum amount available is the school’s Cost of Attendance (tuition and fees, plus a living expense allowance for nine months) minus grants, scholarships, other loans, and Federal Work-Study awards.
Federal Perkins Loan
The Federal Perkins Loan is a federally based loan program administered by the University. Funds are available to students on a limited basis, and awarding is prioritized to students with high financial need as demonstrated on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The size of the award is determined by the University, and typically has been $2,000 per student. The interest rate for borrowers is 5 percent, with interest beginning to accrue nine months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least halftime. Repayment begins nine months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least halftime, and is based on a 10-year repayment schedule. Federal Perkins loans are not eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan program, but may be consolidated with Federal Stafford and Federal PLUS Loans, and therefore, the amount borrowed would be included with a “forgivable” loan. Federal Perkins loans do have independent forgiveness options such as teaching in a designated high-need area.
Often overlooked are many benefits available to veterans and children of deceased veterans, or those disabled in military service. In addition to the benefits offered directly by the Veterans Administration, others are available through various service organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Catholic War Veterans, and directly through the branches of the armed services. Any possible claim resulting from current or past military service of the student or a member of the family should be investigated.
On-campus employment through the Federal Work-Study program is available to law students on a very limited basis. Employment through this program is considered need-based financial aid and impacts eligibility for other resources such as Federal PLUS Loan amounts.
PRIVATE (COMMERCIAL) EDUCATION LOANS
Students may borrow private education loans that are credit-based. Financial need is not a criterion, but the lender conducts a credit review and may deny approval of the loan requested. Students who are unsure of their credit history should request a credit report from their nearest credit bureau for review prior to applying for private loans. Through a private loan program, a student may borrow up to the Cost of Attendance minus other aid (including institutional loans or grants, scholarships, Federal Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans, Graduate PLUS loans, and Federal Work-Study awards). The aggregate borrowing limit for the private loans varies depending on the lender.
The interest rate for these loans also varies according to the lender. Students may choose to defer payment of principal and interest while enrolled at least part time. The first payment is usually due nine months after graduation. Information on the loan application process will be provided by the law school’s Office of Financial Aid in April and is available online at www.law.edu/finaid.
Bar Study and Bar Exam Loans
Various lenders offer loans to graduating students to cover the cost of a bar review course and living expenses between graduation and the time of the bar exam. Terms and conditions are similar to those of other private educational loans.
LAW SCHOOL FINANCIAL AID
Scholarships Provided by CUA
First-Year Students. Upon review of an applicant’s LSAT scores, GPA, and other factors, the admissions office may award a scholarship to a first-year student. Most scholarships are renewable based on the student remaining in good standing.
Continuing Students. Students who achieve specified class ranks at the end of the year are awarded scholarships for the following year. These awards include, but are not limited to, the renewable scholarships awarded to first-year students.
Fanning Labor Law Scholarship
This scholarship has been established by the John Fanning Fund for Labor Studies in honor of Mr. John Fanning, former member and chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, to promote excellence in the pursuit of labor law study at the law school. The recipient is selected by the dean of the law school in consultation with the Advisory Council of the John Fanning Fund for Labor Studies. Eligibility is limited to second-year day- and third-year evening-division students who have demonstrated excellence in the study of labor law. Applications for consideration must be received by June 15 of each year.
SUMMER STIPEND PROGRAMS
Students for Public Interest Law Stipends
The SPIL organization raises money through an annual auction and other activities. Auction proceeds are matched by the law school. These funds are used for summer public interest externship stipends and are intended for use by students committed to returning to CUA the following fall semester.
Eric Weissman Endowed Scholarship Fund
This fund was established by family and friends to honor the memory of Eric Weissman, Class of 1994. Awards from this fund are part of the Students for Public Interest Law stipends. These stipends are intended for use by students committed to returning to CUA the following fall semester.
Charles and Louise O’Brien Fellowships
This fellowship was established by the Reverend Raymond C. O'Brien, a professor at the law school, in honor of his grandparents. Students completing the first or the second year of law school are eligible to apply for summer grants in conjunction with their work at a pro bono assignment during the summer. The fellows are chosen from essays describing their summer placement in the context of the interaction between their religious perspective and their legal careers. These fellowships are intended for use by students committed to returning to CUA the following fall semester.
Patton Boggs Public Policy Fellowship
In honor of founding partner James R. Patton Jr., Patton Boggs LLP provides an annual $5,000 grant to a CUA student spending the summer working on public policy matters for a nonprofit institution or a government agency. These fellowships are intended for use by students committed to returning to CUA the following fall semester.
Plato Papps Labor Law Scholarship
This scholarship is a stipend for a summer externship in labor law for students who have completed their first year of law school. This scholarship is intended for use by students committed to returning to CUA the following fall semester.