Alternative #1: Try to Save Money on Living Expenses
I won’t suggest skipping bar study classes or working while studying because most law school graduates should know how much time they will need to study to pass.
Bar study should be a time of intense focus. Rather than living in an expensive downtown loft, look for quiet, less expensive options.
While studying for the bar, I found cooking at home relaxing. Going this route saved money and helped provide the mental breaks I needed from the stress of studying.
The key to saving money while studying for the bar is recognizing the typical monthly expenses that won’t be used during intense prep. The more money you can save, the less stressful life will be after the bar.
Alternative #2: Traditional Personal Loans
Calling a personal loan a “bar study” loan is nothing more than clever branding.
Though there may only be a handful of companies offering “bar study” loans, many lenders are offering personal loans.
More lenders mean more competition. More competition means better rates. This is part of the reason I like personal loans over most bar study loans.
Investigating personal loans means a bit more research will be required, but it can also mean dramatically lower interest rates and some repayment flexibility.
Alternative #3: Credit Card Introductory Rates
This approach is risky, but it can be a smart move in the right situation.
Many credit card lenders offer introductory interest of 0 percent. They offer these low rates because they still get the merchant fees on transactions and want to entice new customers.
The downside to using a credit card to pay for bar study is that the interest gets really expensive once the introductory rate is over. Many may see their 0 percent interest rate jump between 20 and 30 percent.
The steep penalty for not getting the credit card balance paid in full by the end of the introductory interest rate period means this option only makes sense for people with a well-paying job lined up. However, those needing a very short-term loan to study may find this option the best.
Creativity Can Make Bar Prep Less Expensive
To a law school graduate with six figures of student debt, adding a bar study loan to the debt may not seem like a big deal.
Many bar study loan lenders seem to bank upon this borrower apathy as they can get away with charging rather onerous interest rates.
The good news is that a bit of creativity can make bar prep much less expensive.