Law school is quite expensive. But there are several options available to help you fund your law degree. These financing options can help you cover the cost of tuition, pay for some textbooks and leave you with something to cover your living expenses. In this article, we will be taking a close look at the route you should take to finance your law degree with minimal debt.
Look for a Scholarship
Undoubtedly, the best means of financing your education is through a scholarship. Scholarships provide “free” money. Generally, you will be able to obtain two kinds of scholarships: merit-based or need-based.
The merit-based scholarships are awarded to you based on your previous achievements. This scholarship will usually offer you a fixed amount of money from some thousands of dollars to the full cost of your tuition.
On the other hand, need-based scholarships are given to students who have shown that their financial needs are greater than those of other candidates. Each law school usually offers this type of scholarship to students from low income families. To apply for this type of financial aid, you will need to go through a lengthy application process that requires filling of various forms including the FAFSA form and another form that is specific to each law school.
Apply for Federal Loans
Federal loans are better than private loans because of low interest rates and friendly repayment options. Hence you should explore all avenues to get one of the three federal government sponsored loans for graduate students before you opt for a private loan.
To apply for these federal loans, you must fill the FAFSA form first. Then you choose a lender. You can obtain your loan directly from the U.S. Dept of Education or through an intermediary such as Student Loan Corp, Sallie Mae or Chase under the family education loan program.
Stafford loans can be subsidized or unsubsidized. If you are given a subsidized loan, your interest will be paid by government while you are in school. However, unsubsidized loans require you to pay all your interest even though payment may be deferred until after graduation. As a law student, you may borrow a maximum of $20,500 per year and only $8,500 of this amount can be subsidized.
Federal Perkins loans are awarded to those who qualify by your law school not the Federal Government. You are allowed to borrow up to $8,000 under this program. The funds are released based on the discretion of your law school.
Grad PLUS loans don’t have any annual or aggregate cap. You can only apply for them after you have applied for a Stafford loan. This loan is usually used by students to cover the remainder of their tuition and other living expenses. To qualify for this loan, you must have gone through at least half of your program and have a good credit score.
Investigate Some Private Loans
Private loans are usually the last option for any law student to consider. They are available from private corporations, banks and credit unions. Their interest rates are usually higher and their payment options are less friendly. Before you take any private loan, make sure you shop around and do some research to discover the best option available to you.
Work in a Law Office
Seeing as you are wanting to work in a law office after law school, why not work in one while you are in school. Many offices hire interns or assistants to help out during the summer months or even during the school year. For example a personal injury law firm in Fort Lauderdale routinely gets assistants from a local law school in Florida. It is a win win for everyone. The student gets a chance to see first hand the trials and tribulations of being an attorney, while still learning the ropes in school. In some cases, the interns go on to work in the law firm the worked in part time once they graduate from law school. Send out some resumes to local law firms that in your area of interest. Who better to work for than someone who understands the life of a law student.