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) which may be viewed at law.edu/admissions/financial-aid.html. 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 https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/interest-rates#rates
- Federal Programs
Direct Unsubsidized 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 Direct Unsubsidized Loan. The interest rate for borrowers changes each year based on the 91-day Treasury Bill. Applicable interest rates may be viewed at https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/interest-rates#rates 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 are Income-Driven Repayment options. Direct Loans are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
- Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate Students
Graduate and professional (e.g., law) students are eligible to borrow through the Federal Direct PLUS loan program. Terms are similar to Direct Unsubsidized Loan. The interest rate changes each year based on the 91-day Treasury Bill. Applicable interest rates may be at https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/interest-rates#rates 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-driven repayment plans are 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.
- Veterans Benefits
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.
- Work-Study Program
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, Direct Unsubsidized loans, Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate Students 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 law.edu/admissions/financial-aid.html.
- 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.