Financing Options For Law Students
You can afford to invest in your dreams and help build a better future.
Investing in law school can put you on the path that leads to professional and personal success and Howard University School of Law is committed to helping you make this investment possible in assisting America and the Global Community future. Tuition and fees for this academic year are affordable. Financial assistance for law school comes as either merit-based scholarship or financial aid in the form of loans.
A student’s financial aid package or a combination of awards – including scholarships (both from the law school and from outside sources), loans, grants, and work-study awards, cannot exceed the total cost of attendance for a nine month academic year. The cost of attendance is determined by Howard University and includes an allowance for tuition, fees, books, and the basic living expenses. Students are required to inform the School of Law’s Financial Aid Office if they receive an award that is not reflected in the University’s financial aid award.
Financial aid awards are offered only to students who are officially admitted. Applications from candidates for readmission are not considered until the request for readmission has been approved. Financial aid awards may only be used to pay educational costs incurred during the academic year indicated on the financial aid award letter. Awards may not be used to satisfy a past year's indebtedness to the University nor to pay enrollment fees and deposits for University housing.
Ultimately, financing a legal education is the responsibility of each student and their families. Applicants are encouraged to explore all outside sources for assistance in meeting their educational costs. Students must apply each year to be considered for financial aid.
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is assistance provided to students and families to supplement what they themselves are able to contribute to cover the cost of higher education. It can cover tuition and fees, housing and food, books and supplies, transportation, and some personal expenses. These items make up the estimated cost of attendance. Most financial aid is based on need.
How is Need Determined? Who Can Apply for Aid?
The School of Law's Financial Aid Office determines a student's need for financial aid by subtracting the student's total expected family contribution, as determined by Federal Methodology need analysis, from the expense budget as established by the University for the student's year of study. The Financial Aid Manager/Officer may exercise professional judgment to adjust data that determines the student's family contribution and/or the student's expense budget when individual special circumstances (such illness or dependent care) indicate that such adjustments would be appropriate.
All graduate/professional, U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens students are considered to be independent and eligible for Federal aid. However, expected parental contribution, as determined by need analysis, must be considered in determining eligibility for certain loans and scholarships, including University Scholarships.
Financial aid resources available to assist international students are extremely limited. Therefore, it is imperative that international students make definite financial arrangements for their period in-school before arriving. The School of Law must be notified of these plans at the time of admission. An acceptable financial plan is a condition of matriculation for admitted international students. Obligations will include tuition and fees, books and supplies, room, board, travel and miscellaneous expenses.
What Aid is Available?
University Scholarships and Grants
The Law School has generous scholarship programs that reward academic achievement. Through the Merit Fellows Program, eligible students are awarded scholarships up to, and in some cases exceeding, the cost of tuition and fees. The Admissions Committee makes the initial award of a Renewable Merit Scholarship. The award is based on the applicant’s undergraduate academic achievements, including but not limited to LSAT score, undergraduate GPA (UGPA), letters of reference, and personal statement. Each year, approximately 75 merit scholarships, ranging from $5000 to $30,000 are awarded. Merit Fellow awards are renewable for two subsequent years of study, provided the student maintains the required class rank. International students in the J.D. program are also considered for these awards.
Students not awarded a Merit Scholarship at the time of admission are recognized for exceptional academic performance upon completion of two semesters of full-time course work. Depending on class rank or section rank, the student may be awarded a performance scholarship. The Admissions and Financial Aid Committee will determine the amount of the renewable performance scholarship awarded for a particular ranking. A list of Donor Scholarship Opportunities can be found here.
If the performance scholarship amount for a particular student exceeds the renewable scholarship amount for that student, the student will be renewed for the next two semesters at a higher amount.
The law school awards a very limited number of grants and College Work Study (CWS) funds to law students. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to be eligible. Given the time required to ensure adequate class preparation and a thorough understanding of the course material, first year students are not permitted to work. In accordance with American Bar Association and Howard University School of Law rules and requirements, second and third year students may not work more than twenty hours a week.
Howard University offers a limited amount of institutional loans to students in the School of Law. These resources are generally reserved for individuals who cannot procure funding from other aid options. We encourage students to investigate other resources before inquiring about the institutional loan program.
All students are encouraged to seek out and apply for scholarships from sources outside of the School of Law or University. Such sources include foundations, philanthropic organizations, legal organizations, churches and religious organizations, fraternities and sororities, and state and local service and community agencies. Information regarding outside scholarships can be found at www.finaid.org,www.collegeboard.org andwww.fastweb.org.
Any outside funding you receive must be taken into account when your eligibility is determined for need- based financial aid. If you have been offered funding from a source outside the University, you should notify The Office of Financial Aid at the School of Law of the amount and of the donor.
Federal Direct Student Loans
All new students (new freshmen and new transfer students) will be considered for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. The Direct Loan Program enables students to borrow from, and repay loans to, the U.S. Department of Education instead of to a bank or lending institution. No separate loan application is needed for the Federal Direct Loan Program. Your eligibility will be determined by the Financial Aid Office based on your FAFSA information and on documents that the university may request from you. If you are determined to be eligible, you will receive a financial aid award notice with the maximum loan amounts allowable.
Applicants for federally funded programs must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens. Eligible non-citizens will be required to submit evidence of this status. Additionally, all financial aid recipients must be making satisfactory academic progress as determined by Howard University policy.
Important terms and conditions for William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are as follows:
Annual Amounts Available: For unsubsidized loans, the maximum amount that will be recommended for a 9-month academic year is $20,500.
Aggregate Amounts Available: For subsidized loans, the aggregate loan limit for a graduate or professional student is $65,500, including amounts borrowed for undergraduate study. The overall aggregate limit for subsidized and unsubsidized loans is $138,000 for a law student. This aggregate limit includes loans received for undergraduate, graduate, and professional school enrollment.
Most law students rely on education loans as their primary sources of financial aid. Any enrolled or accepted student who is either a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen may apply for federal financial aid totaling 20,500. Students applying for federal student loans must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Eligibility: to receive a Direct Student Loan, as well as other federal student aid, you must:
- Demonstrate financial need
A student’s eligibility for a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is determined, in part, by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by federal need analysis methodology, plus all other sources of financial aid, from the cost of study. Eligibility for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan is the cost of attendance less total award resources received. The School of Law’s Financial Aid Office will assist students in determining their eligibility for Federal Direct Student Loans.
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
- Have a valid Social Security Number.
- Be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the school.
- Certify on the FAFSA that you are not in default on a federal student loan and that you do not owe money back on a federal student grant.
- Register with the Selective Service, if required.
- Certify on the FAFSA that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes.
- Answer the question on the FAFSA that asks if you have ever been convicted of possessing or selling drugs.
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a least a half-time student.
For Federal Direct Student Loans, there is a loan origination fee. This fee is deducted from each loan disbursement. Loan origination fees are retained by the federal government to help reduce the cost of these programs to the government.
Current interest rates on Federal Direct Student Loans can be found here. For unsubsidized loans, borrowers' interest will be charged beginning the day the loan is disbursed until the day the loan is repaid. Students have the option of paying the interest when it is charged while in school, during the grace period, and/or during deferment, or may choose the option of allowing the interest to accumulate until the beginning of the repayment period when it will be capitalized or added to the loan principal.
For more information, please visit the following websites:
Federal Student Aid
National Student Loan Data System
Federal Student Loans
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
Grad PLUS loans are available to students enrolled at least half-time in a graduate or professional program. Grad PLUS borrowers may borrow up to the cost of attendance for the period of enrollment, minus other estimated financial assistance received for that period. Current interest rates on Federal Direct Student Loans can be found here. Some students may wish to consider the Grad PLUS loan as an alternative to Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loans.
Grad PLUS loans are subject to credit review. A Grad PLUS applicant who has an adverse credit history may be able to obtain the loan with an endorser or co-signer who does not have an adverse credit history.
*Note that students are required to file a FAFSA for the year in which they plan to apply for the Grad PLUS loan.
External Student Loans
There are several private student loan programs available to law students. Private loans can be used to substitute for a student’s expected family contribution as determined by need analysis and to fill in gaps between other financial aid and the cost of attendance. In evaluating private loans, one should consider interest rates, interest capitalization policies, annual and aggregate loan limits, minimum loan amounts, fees, the grace period, deferment options, incentives given for on-time or automatic repayments, and the number of years allowed to repay the loan. Information on private student loans can be obtained from banks and other lenders; they cannot be obtained from the Office of Financial Aid. The University accepts loans from any alternative lender and does not recommend or prefer any specific lender. It is strongly suggested that students thoroughly research several lenders, including their own banking institution, before they select their lender of choice.
Private loans can be used as a substitute for a student's expected family contribution as determined by need analysis. In evaluating private loans, you should consider interest capitalization policies, annual and aggregate loan limits, minimum loan amounts, loan fees, the grace period, deferment options and repayment options.
Each lender conducts a credit check and usually the debt to income ratio must not exceed 40% including the loan being applied for. Lenders require a good credit report from the applicant and co-signed if applicable. The criterion for loan approval varies with each lender, however, most lenders agree that a credit report cannot include; bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions, charge-offs, open judgments, or excessive past due accounts within the past two years. Additionally, you cannot currently be in default on any educational loan.
Consider the following when researching an external loan:
There are several private student loan programs available to law students. Private loans can be used to substitute for a student’s expected family contribution as determined by need analysis and to fill in gaps between other financial aid and the cost of attendance. In evaluating private loans, one should consider interest rates, interest capitalization policies, annual and aggregate loan limits, minimum loan amounts, fees, the grace period, deferment options, incentives given for on-time or automatic repayments, and the number of years allowed to repay the loan. Information on private student loans can be obtained from banks and other lenders. The University accepts loans from any alternative lender and does not recommend or prefer any specific lender. It is strongly suggested that students thoroughly research several lenders, including their own banking institution, before they select their lender of choice.
Before a student signs an application for a loan or a promissory note, he or she should read it carefully, ask questions, and complete the following steps:
- Determine the maximum amount that may be borrowed per academic year, as well as the maximum aggregate amount;
- Determine the interest rate;
- Determine whether the interest is deferred until after graduation, subsidized, or payable while the student is in school;
- Determine whether the interest, if not deferred, is payable monthly, quarterly, or annually;
- Determine the fees that will be taken out of the loan for origination and insurance;
- Determine the policies governing capitalization or compounding of interest;
- Determine whether the loan may be repaid at any time without penalty;
- Determine if repayment of the principal can be deferred through residency training;
- Determine the maturity date, which is the date upon which the promissory note becomes due and payable;
- Determine the grace period;
- Determine the number of years allowed for repayment of the loan and the repayment options available;
- Determine whether the loan can be forgiven for practice in a physician shortage area;
- Determine what the minimum monthly payment will be during the repayment of the loan;
- Determine what benefits are offered during the repayment period, such as interest reduction for on time payments and/or automatic payments directly from your bank account; and
- Ensure that you are given a Disclosure Statement signed by the appropriate authority at the lending institution. A Disclosure Statement is a legal document and a record of the loan. All contracts between lenders and borrowers for loans are recorded locally or federally as standing legal obligations until terminated through repayment.
The most important thing to consider is how much you will need for living expenses in addition to Tuition and Fees!
Some students make arrangements with external organizations to finance their legal education. Upon entrance, The Office of Financial Aid must be notified of your arrangement. Third-Party Contracts must be submitted to the Office of Student Financial Services/Student Accounts by the appropriate sponsoring agency or organization. Should the sponsor not submit payment, the student is responsible for satisfying the student account.
How is Aid Used?
For each student who applies and is eligible for aid, a financial aid package will be recommended consisting of an expected family contribution, in some instances, scholarships, and/or loans. Students should realize, however, that all expenses cannot be met through financial aid. Every effort should be made to supplement financial aid through summer employment and earnings prior to law school. However, do not plan to work full-time during law school. Each student should be reminded that the primary purpose of financial aid is to assist in defraying educational costs.
Once mandatory fees are deducted from your awarded aid (re: Tuition, University-related fees, College-related fees, and if applicable, loan fees and books/supplies), any excess aid will be refunded to the student. The student may use their refunded award for living expenses. The amounts denoted for living expenses are estimates that are determined by the state and not by Howard University. Students must budget so that their living expenses are within the estimates provided by the state.