Getting into law school is a great accomplishment for any student. After studying to get in, you can finally get the degree you need to become a full-fledged attorney. Your legal education is an excellent investment for your future. With this great accomplishment comes the burden of financing your educational investment. Some law school educations exceed $150,000. Many students are overwhelmed with this cost; you’re not alone. Approximately 80 percent of students rely on education loans for financial aid, but this might not be the best case to finance for most students. Below are some helpful ideas on how to finance law school.
Earn Outstanding Credentials
One of the easiest ways to secure a law school scholarship is to perform amazingly on your entrance exam. Most schools accept the LSAT or GRE, but most only accept the LSAT. If you earn a phenomenal score, you can stand out. Also, during your time as an undergraduate, focus on building a great resume and high GPA. Working on the entrance exam and your undergraduate materials improves your odds of winning a scholarship!
Qualifying for Need-Based Aid
You might not have qualified for need-based aid in college due to your parent’s financial situation. But now that you’re older and maybe applying to law school on your own with your finances, your financial aid package is different.
Target Schools Where Your Scores Are above the Average
If you’re a standout applicant with scores above the average of other students, you are more likely to be given aid and scholarships. You might even be able to attend law school for free!
Traditionally, a JD degree takes three years to earn, but some law schools offer a two-year option that can be a money saver. This is now guaranteed, however, as you should research the prices of the programs before making any decisions.
The Art of Negotiating
Now that you’re going to law school, it’s essential to understand negotiating. A financial aid package may be awarded from different schools to which you’ve applied. If you get multiple offers, don’t be afraid to assess and negotiate your package based on other schools’ offers. Call the financial aid office of your dream school and use that other offer as leverage. This can help you get—a much more generous package from your dream school.
Work-study programs are an excellent idea for any JD candidate as they are a form of need-based financial aid. To be considered, you must submit the FAFSA; not all schools require that a work-study program is an on-campus or near-campus part-time job. The money goes toward paying for law school living expenses.
Graduate Student Aid
Now, as a graduate student, you must know your options for student aid as they differ greatly from undergraduate student aid. Grad students, unfortunately, cannot borrow federally subsidized loans and are not eligible for Pell Grants. For graduate students. The federal direct loan borrowing limit is higher, and you can access the Grad PLUS loan program. Before applying to any loan options, make sure you understand loan repayment options. In addition, as you’re older, your credit history might be stronger, which can help you get lower rates from lenders. Let’s break down loans:
Federal Direct Loans
Federal direct loans are the most favorable option as they do not require a credit check and are eligible for income-driven repayment. It’s wise always to exhaust your federal direct loans first. Interest on these loans accrues when your loan is disbursed, but payment is deferred while in school.
Federal Grad PLUS Student loans
The Federal Grad Plus student loan, also known as a Direct PLUS loan, can help you borrow up to the cost of attendance. This amount is determined by the school minus financial assistance.
Private Student Loans
Some people don’t like Grad PLUS loans because the interest rate is higher, so they use private student loans. Private student loans may be a great option, but you should always compare quotes and terms.
Ultimately, law school is expensive, but if it is your dream, you should do everything possible to make it happen. For loans, only borrow what you need and pay it back on time. Living expenses for law school can be very intimidating, but be sure to do your calculations, not the school’s estimated cost of living. The school calculates these expenses, including housing, food, transportation, and other living expenses, but you may not need as much as they estimate. Remember to take advantage of scholarships and grants first, as you do not need to repay them with interest like loans. Finally, you should be proud of yourself for working this hard to get into a great law school. Keep up the great work!