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Financial Aid for Law School
To obtain federal aid you must:
- Start the financial aid process in December to be well in advance of the school's particular filing deadline. You cannot wait until after you receive admission offers to begin the planning process.
- Obtain the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from your college or university financial aid office, from a law school to which you are applying, or at fafsa.ed.gov. FAFSA is a need-analysis tool developed by the U.S. Department of Education. As the name implies, there is no charge for the collection and processing of data or the delivery of financial aid through this form.
- When completing the FAFSA form, you will designate the names and school codes of all law schools to which you are applying. Information on school codes is available from any law school financial aid office or at fafsa.ed.gov.
- The FAFSA form asks for information about your income, assets, and other financial resources. Be sure to answer "yes" to the question: Will you be working on a degree beyond the bachelor's degree? All graduate/professional students are considered independent of their parents for the federal loan programs.
- Prepare your federal income tax returns as early as possible after the first of the year. Many schools will want to see a copy of your actual tax return, so be sure to keep a photocopy for your files. The FAFSA requires information that is derived directly from your tax return. While information packets (including the FAFSA) may be available from some law school financial aid offices in the fall, applications cannot be filed until after January 1. (They will be returned to you if received before the first of the year.) However, you can file any time after the first of the year—the earlier the better.
- The law schools to which you apply will determine your eligibility for federal financial aid. The amount offered by each law school will vary, and each student's financial need will be assessed individually because costs vary from school to school.
- Once you determine the school that you will attend, you may begin the federal loan application process.
- Many of the private education loan programs will make credit decisions on the telephone or online. Contact them for details.
Call, write, or e-mail the financial aid office of the law schools to which you are applying. Some schools may require you to submit information in addition to the FAFSA. You may be asked to complete an institutional financial aid application or an additional form from another agency such as Need Access or CSS Profiles. It is important to know which schools require additional information. Many schools have very early filing deadlines.