Best Student Loans for Law School in March 2024

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Edited byAmy Wilder

Updated: March 22, 2024

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Law school can be expensive. On average, the cost of attending law school at a public institution is $28,480 per year for state residents and $40,680 per year for non-residents. Meanwhile, those studying in private institutions spend an average of $50,770 per year.

Law school student loans are necessary for many individuals to afford the steep cost of pursuing a legal profession. Generally, federal student loans are the best option as they typically have lower interest rates and flexible repayment terms. Law school students can also turn to private student loans for law school if federal loans don’t cover the costs. Exploring all options based on your eligibility can also help ensure you get the most favorable terms on a student loan.

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Federal Student Loans for Law School

Before getting private student loans for law school, it’s best to maximize federal student loans first since they typically come with lower interest rates. You can apply by completing the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Successful applicants will have to submit a FAFSA form every year.

There are two types of federal student loans for law school — Direct Unsubsidized and Grad PLUS.

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Undergraduate and graduate students can apply for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. The loan amount will be based on the cost of attendance and other financial aid the borrower receives. The current rate for graduate students is 6.54%. Should you get a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you’ll be responsible for paying all accrued interest.
  • Grad PLUS Loans: Also known as Direct PLUS Loans, the Grad PLUS Loan is available to graduate and professional students enrolled at least half-time. Borrowers must meet certain eligibility requirements to get a loan. The current interest rate for this type of loan is 7.54%, with the maximum loan amount being the cost of attendance based on the school minus other financial aid you’re receiving.

Depending on the borrower’s circumstances, federal student loans may be forgiven. It’s best to stay updated about the government's student loan forgiveness requirements and rules.

How to Find the Best Law School Loan

Choosing the best law school student loan can be challenging. Knowing how to apply for student loans can help you find a good lender and choose the best options for your needs.

1

Complete the FAFSA

You first need to see if you’re qualified for a federal student loan. You can start the application process by filling out the FAFSA form. Don’t forget to check the deadlines.

The FAFSA is necessary to receive any type of federal loan or financial aid. Some private scholarship programs may also require the FAFSA. Make sure you indicate in the form that you’re a graduate student to access higher borrowing limits.

2

Submit requirements

Aside from the FAFSA, you’ll need to submit a Master Promissory Note. This is an agreement to repay the loan amount plus all accrued interest. There may be additional requirements, depending on the school.

3

Look for private lenders (if necessary)

If you have already maximized federal student loans but haven’t met the costs of law school, you may consider private student loans to cover the remaining expenses. Narrow down your options by checking eligibility requirements.

4

Get pre-qualified

Some private lenders may offer pre-qualification. This will give you an idea of what loan limit, interest rates and terms you may be eligible to get without the lender conducting a hard credit inquiry.

5

Compare student loan offers

Once you get pre-qualification, compare loan offers, interest rates, repayment terms and other features to find the best loan for your needs. Check if your school has a list of preferred student loan providers.

6

Apply and complete the application

Determine which lender offers the best loan. Make sure you read the fine print. If you’re 100% sure about the loan, proceed with the application. Depending on the lender, you may apply in person, online or over the phone.

Lenders typically disburse the loan amount directly to the school. You may receive money if there’s a balance after paying off all law school expenses. You can either use this to cover other education expenses or return it to the lender.

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HOW WE REVIEWED STUDENT LOAN LENDERS

We reviewed more than 30 private student loan lenders using 35+ individual data points across six key categories: loan affordability, accessibility, consumer friendliness, customer service, flexibility and lender transparency.

Within each ranking criteria category, we considered several individual data points that carry the most weight when choosing a private student loan lender. These factors include APR ranges, available loan amount, minimum credit score, minimum income amount, application fees and disbursement time.

With the consumer in mind, we also factor in each lender’s customer support, business ratings and additional features that could make your experience easier and more accessible — like pre-qualification, payment options and mobile apps.

Frequently Asked Questions About Law School Loans

MoneyGeek answered some questions that potential borrowers frequently ask to help you better understand how student loans for law school work.

Law school student loans typically cover the total cost of attendance, including tuition, books, technology costs, transportation and living expenses. That said, it’s important to check the loan agreement to see if your lender has restrictions on how you can use the funds.

Most private lenders allow borrowers to take out at least $1,000, but the amount law school students need to borrow depends on individual factors, such as the cost of attendance. The average cost of attending law school is $28,480 per year for residents and $40,680 per year for non-residents at public institutions, and $50,770 at private institutions.

The maximum amount you can borrow for law school depends on your school. Many lenders will allow you to borrow up to 100% of the total cost of attendance minus any financial aid you’re receiving.

It depends on the lender. The government offers student loan forgiveness for federal student loans to qualified borrowers. Private lenders, on the other hand, typically don’t offer loan forgiveness.

No, a co-signer isn’t necessary to get a law school loan. You may need one if your credit history doesn’t meet the lender's requirements. In some cases, a co-signer may also help you access lower interest rates.

It depends on the lender. Lenders have different repayment plans, including immediate, interest-only, during enrollment or deferment until after graduation.

The American Bar Association reports that a law school graduate's average total student loan is $164,742. This includes all balances from undergraduate studies and law school.

The length of repayment of student loans depends on the agreed-upon repayment terms.

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