When it comes time to apply for law school, many students also find themselves applying for a series of law school loans, grants, and scholarships. Law school student loans are offered both federally and privately to students who have completed an undergraduate degree, taken the LSAT exam, and are prepared to begin law school. Before applying for any loans, however, students may want to to exhaust all grant and scholarship options available to them, as law schools can be quite costly. Whatever isn’t covered by scholarships, grants, and financial aid can then be supplemented by law school loans.
Each loan program will have a set of requirements laid out for applicants; however, there are a few general criteria students should expect to come across. For Federal Direct Loans, students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for loan assistance. Considering the cost of tuition, board, and other fees, law schools ultimately determine how much assistance a student will need to seek through federal and/or private loans.
Repaying a Law School Student Loan
Law school graduates are required to begin paying back their loans after a certain grace period. Although this grace period differs with each loan program, a one-year grace period is the typical amount of time a student has before they must begin paying back their loans. With Direct Unsubsidized Federal Loans, students are allowed a six-month grace period, after which students will then be responsible for paying the interest for the time they were both enrolled in a law school program and using their grace period. If a student should find themselves struggling or unable to pay back their law student loans, they are urged to contact a loan provider immediately to decide how best to handle the matter. A common option students seek in these circumstances is loan deferment or forbearance.
Types of Law School Student Loans
- Federal Direct Stafford Loan: With this Direct Unsubsidized Federal Loan, students are able to borrow up to $20,500. The Direct Stafford Loan has an interest rate of 6.8% with a 1% loan fee that begins accruing as soon as the loan is distributed. A six-month grace period is what students are granted before they must begin paying back their loan; however, there are forbearance and deferment options available should a student absolutely need them.
- PLUS Loans: These U.S. Department of Education loans are given to graduate students who need to supplement education expenses that aren’t covered by scholarships or other financial aid. Students who receive these 7.9% interest rate loans must have a good credit history and be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible law school. For this loan, students are allowed to borrow up to the total cost of the attendance, which is ultimately determined by the law school they’re attending.
- Discover Law Loans: This private loan is available at a fixed interest rate of 6.79% to 7.89% APR to graduate students who are enrolled at least half-time. Students are not required to pay back their loan while in school and can receive a lower interest rate if they qualify for the Auto Debit Reward program. Students must pass a credit check to receive this loan, and if they aren’t in good credit standing, they’ll need to provide a cosigner to receive the loan.