Q: Is Financial Aid Available?
A: The short answer to the above question is “yes, but…” meaning, of course, that financial aid is available in some form, but it probably won’t be a full ride. Keep the following in mind as general points: private schools’ tuition and fees run around $30,000 per year plus living expenses that could amount to another $12,000, while the public law schools run around half that.
On the average, a law student incurs between $30,000 and $150,000 in law school debt by graduation. About 75 percent of all students borrow money for law school. There is very little “free money” in the form of scholarships and fellowships.
In fact, the key phrase these days is no longer “financial aid,” it’s “financial management.” Law schools and LSAC urge applicants to think in terms of managing— not merely spending— the funding that students are awarded or loaned. This is a different way of evaluating your income. It requires you to prepare a budget, at least on an annual basis, and stick with it without deviation. It also requires you to forego acquiring some items that you may want such as a new car or better living accommodations. You should be prepared for this in order to have a realistic expectation of life after law school.
Q: What are the sources of funds?
A: The best sources are the schools to which you have applied. Every school has a
financial aid office, and you are encouraged to contact them early so you will be
well within their deadlines in applying for aid. These include both scholarship and
loan programs. More money is available for loans than for scholarships.
The first thing to do is to check the law school website for information and to download the correct financial aid applications. Veterans should look at the Veterans Educational Assistance under financial aid options. Do not wait for your letter of acceptance before you apply for assistance. It will be too late. Be sure to fill out all financial aid forms at the same time you apply for admission.
There are still some federally funded loan programs, known as the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans, and Federal PLUS Loans for graduate students. Read more about financial aid options on the LSAC website.
Q: How do I apply for financial aid?
A: Most schools will want you to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from
Towson University’s financial aid office or directly from Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You will be asked whether you are working for a degree beyond the bachelor’s. The answer is yes. Also, check out the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. Consult the GSL and SLS directly online for information. Look at Financing Law School for information about federal and private funding for graduate and professional education.
There are also private loan funds available. For incomes less than $25,000 per year, see Sallie Mae. For those from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, see the information at the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) of the American Bar Association.
Q: What can help?
A: Read the guide on LSAC website, one of the best sources on the subject. Remember that you must manage your finances responsibly. Paying for law school requires planning.