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Paying for Law School: Everything You Need to Know

We know that paying for law school is daunting, and we're here to help! We put together this guide to help you find plenty of information and resources for paying for law school all in one place. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to!

Step One: Before you begin paying for law school, you have to pay for applications, exams, and more.

Applying to law school can be costly, especially when considering the required fees plus recommended support throughout the process. Here are some fees to keep in mind and opportunities for discounts if they apply to you:

LSAC-Related Costs:
Credential Assembly Service (CAS): $200
LSAT Exam: $222 per exam
CAS Report: $45 per school

The best way to offset these costs is by applying for an LSAC Fee Waiver through LSAC.

LSAT Prep can range in price from $50 to several thousand depending on the services that you're looking for. Some tutors or tutoring companies will offer discounts for those with an LSAC Fee Waiver. Check their policies or just ask!

If you're looking for LSAT prep books, go secondhand! Many students sell used prep books at a lower cost or give them away. Check online groups, Facebook, or with anyone you know who has applied in the past.

Application support and/or essay draft reviews can also have a wide range in price. We offer discounted application support and essay draft reviews and courses for BIPOC, first-generation, LGBTQ+ students, and more, as well as LSAC Fee Waiver Holders. 

Visiting law schools that you don't live near can be costly! Reach out to an admissions officer to see if the school offers a travel stipend to visit. If that doesn't cover the cost of everything (travel, housing, etc.), you can also reach out to student organizations (like BLSA) and see if a student would be willing to have you stay overnight with them.

Step Two: Learn about the different financial aid options that may be available to you.

It is essential to note that most law schools only offer merit-based aid. Merit-based aid is financial awards or scholarships that are provided based on something you've done, like your LSAT score, GPA, charity work, or something similar. Fewer schools offer need-based aid — although it is worth noting that several of the top schools are the most gracious with need-based aid. 

Merit-Based Aid: To get these kinds of scholarships, you should focus on your GPA and LSAT scores, primarily. They typically do not have applications associated with them; they are simply awarded based on your application materials.

Need-Based Aid: Your need-based financial aid package will rely heavily on the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA). More on this below! Some schools may also have individual applications for need-based aid.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs): These programs offer loans that can be forgiven if the law school graduate works in certain fields for a set period. LRAPs usually require new lawyers to work in government or public interest jobs for ten years. 

Fellowships: Post-graduate fellowships pay law school graduates an additional stipend if they work in a low-paying public interest job. These programs help new lawyers afford to take lower-paying positions without the long-term commitment of an LRAP. 

Pipeline or Pathway Programs: Pathway programs offer coaching and mentoring assistance that helps students and graduates build confidence and leadership skills. They can help participants make stronger applications to both law schools and post-graduate programs, which can help them qualify for funding opportunities. Some programs also offer law school funding directly. 

Note: Indigenous members of the legal community have asked that "pipeline" be changed to "pathway" for these programs. 

Outside Scholarships: You can apply for scholarships external to the institution and have many more prospects, particularly if you have lower scores. A few examples could be scholarships based on gender, race, single parenthood, a well-written essay, interest in a specific area of law, and more.

Law School Loans: There are several loan types available to you, both federally and privately. To qualify for federal loans, you must fill out the FAFSA. More on this below!

Step Three: Make sure your taxes are completed on time.

Complete your federal tax returns as early as possible each year because you will need your most current tax information to apply for federal or private loans.

Step Four: Fill out the FAFSA.

The FAFSA is essential if you are interested in earning any need-based aid, as well as getting access to federal loan programs. You should fill out the FAFSA as close to when it opens as possible; submitting early may give you access to more grant funding and need-based awards before they run out. 

Typically, the FAFSA opens on October 1 for the following year. (Submitting October 1, 2024 would qualify you for financial aid for the 2024-2025 school year.) It needs to be filled out each year that you are attending law school. 

For each school that you are applying to, you have to submit a code for that law school so they receive your financial aid information. This also helps the government determine what you can be eligible for based on the cost of attendance at each school. 

You can enter up to 10 schools at a time. Codes can be found on a law school's website — make it easy and just Google "Law School Name FAFSA Code" to find it! Once it processes for 10 schools, you can swap them out for any additional schools you're applying to.

Aside from potential need-based packages from law schools, filling out the FAFSA also qualifies you for federal loans.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Law students are not eligible for subsidized loans but can apply for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. They may borrow up to $20,500 each year. The loans start accruing simple interest while law students are in school. Law students have a six-month grace period after graduation before they have to start paying back Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

Grad PLUS Loans: Grad PLUS Loans are typically not the best options for law students, but they are an option. Recipients must have good credit and interest rates are typically higher than on Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

Step Five: Carefully read your acceptance letters as they come in.

Your acceptance letters should include information about need- or merit-based awards that you have been given. Make sure to keep all of your different packages recorded somewhere essential for comparison.

Follow any instructions given to claim your financial awards. This is also the stage where you can consider negotiating your scholarships with the law school you're interested in.

Step Six: Apply for additional funding, if needed. 

For Direct Federal Loans, you do not need to do anything special beyond filling out your FAFSA and accepting the loan.

If you want to take out a PLUS loan, you need to fill out a separate application. If approved, you must also complete a Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note that spells out the terms of your loan.

Apply for loans with private lenders if you do not get the funding you need or wish to borrow from a private lender instead of taking out a PLUS loan.

Our Scholarship Database

 We continuously try to update our blog with law school scholarships. This list is not exhaustive and should not be your only resource for the scholarship search, but it should be helpful to you as you start your search! Even if the deadline has passed, we suggest checking the page for other opportunities or updates on their next deadline.
General Scholarships
Demographic-Based Scholarships

More Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources

We highly suggest checking out AccessLex! They have a variety of public resources as well as services available for aspiring and current law school students.
Check out our Break Into Law School® podcast for financial aid advice!
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