Best Student Loans for Law Students in the USA

Law student loans USA. Law school in the USA is known for its high costs, which can include tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. The American Bar Association reports that the average cost of tuition and fees at private law schools is $50,000 to over $60,000 per year. While public law schools charge an average of over $20,000 to over $40,000 per year for in-state students and over $41,000 for out-of-state students.

Best Student Loans for Law Students in the USA

Given these expenses, many law students rely on student loans to finance their education. Student loans are often necessary to cover not only tuition but also other costs associated with attending law school, such as housing, food, transportation, and study materials.

Furthermore, the average debt burden for law school graduates is $164,742, with the majority of that debt coming from graduate school loans. According to a 2021 survey, 90% of early-career attorneys took out loans to pay for their J.D. degree, with an average debt of $130,000. Another source states that the average debt for law school graduates in 2023 who incurred debt was a little more than $111,000.

Student Loans for Law Students in the USA

Despite the high cost, obtaining a law degree can open up a range of career opportunities and lead to higher earning potential in the long run. However, the financial burden of student loans underscores the importance of careful planning and financial management to ensure that graduates can successfully repay their loans and achieve their career goals.

In this article, we’ll talk about how law students pay for school, why student loans are important, the different kinds of loans they can get, and where to find the best ones. We’ll also look at scholarships for law students and other ways to pay for school. Learning about these options can help law students manage their money better and focus on their studies.

Challenges Law Students Face in Financing Their Education

Law students face several challenges when it comes to financing their education. Below, we’ll outline some of the challenges they face:

  1. High Cost: Law school is very expensive, and finding enough money to pay for it can be hard.
  2. Living Expenses: On top of tuition, students need money for things like housing, food, and transportation, which adds to the financial burden.
  3. Limited Scholarships: While some scholarships are available, they are often hard to get and may not cover all the costs.
  4. Limited Jobs: Law school is demanding, so students often can’t work full-time or even part-time jobs to earn money.
  5. Limited Access to Aid: Graduate students, like law students, don’t have as much access to federal financial aid as undergraduate students do.
  6. Career Impact: The high cost of law school can make students choose higher-paying jobs over jobs they’re more interested in, affecting their career choices.
  7. Overborrowing: Without careful planning, students may borrow more money than they can afford to pay back, leading to financial stress.
  8. Debt Burden: Many law students graduate with a lot of student loan debt, which can take a long time to repay and affect their financial future.

Importance of Student Loans for Law Students

Student loans play a crucial role in enabling many law students to pursue their legal education. Here are some key reasons why student loans are important for law students:

  1. Access to Education: Student loans help law students afford the high cost of law school, so they can attend and get their degree.
  2. Financial Support: Law school is expensive, and student loans provide the money needed for tuition, books, and living expenses while studying.
  3. Career Opportunities: A law degree opens up many job options, and student loans make it possible for students to pursue these careers.
  4. Investment in the Future: Even though student loans can be a lot of money, they are seen as an investment in the future, as a law degree can lead to well-paying jobs.
  5. Flexible Payments: Student loans offer different ways to pay back the money, including plans based on how much money you earn, so payments are affordable.
  6. Social Mobility: Student loans help students from different backgrounds move up in society and improve their lives.
  7. Economic Growth: By helping students get a law degree, student loans contribute to a skilled workforce, which helps the economy grow.
  8. Public Service Careers: Student loans make it possible for students to pursue careers in public service, even if these jobs don’t pay as much as other jobs.

Types of law student loans

There are two main types of loans available to law students: federal student loans and private student loans. Here are the two types of loans available for law students listed below with details on them provided:

1. Federal Student Loans for Law Students:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are available to graduate and professional students. They have a fixed interest rate and are not based on financial need. Borrowers are responsible for all interest that accrues.
  • Grad PLUS Loans: Graduate and professional students can borrow Grad PLUS Loans to cover the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. These loans require a credit check and have a fixed interest rate.
  • Federal Perkins Loans: Perkins Loans are low-interest federal loans available to students with exceptional financial need. However, this program has been discontinued, so only borrowers who already have a Perkins Loan can receive new disbursements.


  • Fixed interest rates for Direct Unsubsidized and Grad PLUS Loans.
  • Income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness options for federal loans.
  • Deferment and forbearance options for borrowers facing financial hardship.
  • Potential forgiveness options.


  • Borrowing limits may not cover the full cost of attendance.
  • Grad PLUS Loans require a credit check, which could be a barrier for some borrowers.
  • Perkins Loans are no longer available to new borrowers.

2. Private Student Loans for Law Students:

Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions offer private student loans. Lenders may offer various loan options with different terms and conditions. Here are some of the private student loans for law students:

  1. Earnest
  2. College Ave
  3. Sallie Mae
  4. Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
  5. Custom Choice
  6. SoFi

Interest rates for private student loans can be fixed or variable and may depend on the borrower’s creditworthiness. Private loans may also have origination fees and different repayment terms than federal loans. Private lenders often require a good credit score for approval. Some lenders may allow borrowers to apply with a co-signer, which can improve their chances of approval and potentially lower the interest rate.


  • Competitive interest rates
  • No fees
  • Autopay discount
  • Co-signer release options
  • Income-based repayment plans


  • Higher interest rates
  • Less flexible repayment options
  • Limited forbearance options
  • Credit score requirements
  • Co-signer requirements

It’s generally recommended that students exhaust their federal loan options before turning to private loans, as federal loans often offer more favorable terms, such as fixed interest rates and income-driven repayment plans.

Best Student Loan Providers for Law Students

When looking for the best student loan providers for law students, it’s important to find ones with good rates and terms. Here are some top options:

  • Earnest: A fee-free private loan option with no origination fees and no late fees.
  • College Ave: Offers a solid all-around private loan product with a few unique features.
  • Sallie Mae: Offers loans from $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance with no origination fee or penalty for paying off your loan before its due date.
  • Rhode Island Student Loan Authority: Offers two different loan types for graduate students, which each comes with its own fixed interest rate.
  • Custom Choice: Offers private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students with competitive interest rates and no fees.
  • Ascent: Works to help underserved students access education loans. Offers loan options specifically tailored for law students.

Before choosing a student loan provider, compare options based on your individual needs and financial situation to find the best fit for you.

Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Assistance Programs:

  1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Available to borrowers who work in public service jobs and make 120 qualifying monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan.
  2. Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans: These plans cap monthly payments at a percentage of the borrower’s income and offer loan forgiveness after 20-25 years of qualifying payments.
  3. Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs): Some law schools and employers offer LRAPs to help graduates with their student loan debt if they work in public interest or low-paying jobs.
  4. State-Sponsored Loan Forgiveness Programs: Some states offer loan forgiveness programs for borrowers who work in certain professions or underserved areas.

Eligibility Criteria & Application Process for Law Student Loans

To qualify for student loans, law students must meet certain criteria and follow specific procedures. Here’s what you need to know about eligibility and applying for these loans:

1. Federal Student Loans:

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
    • Must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program at an eligible institution.
    • Must not be in default on any federal student loans.
    • Must meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid, including maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
  • Application Process:
    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Be enrolled or accepted in a law program (J.D. or LL.M.)
    • Meet credit requirements (varies by lender)
    • Meet income requirements (varies by lender)
    • Be of good standing in the current academic program (if applicable)

2. Private Student Loans:

  • Eligibility Criteria:
    • Eligibility criteria vary by lender but often include a good credit score or a co-signer with a good credit score.
    • Some lenders may have additional requirements, such as enrollment in an eligible program or satisfactory academic progress.
  • Application Process:
    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Be enrolled or accepted in a law program (J.D. or LL.M.)
    • Meet credit requirements (varies by lender)
    • Meet income requirements (varies by lender)
    • Be of good standing in the current academic program (if applicable)

Interest Rates and Fees

Student loan interest rates can vary depending on the type of loan and the lender. Federal student loans have fixed interest rates set by Congress and are the same for all borrowers, while private student loans have variable or fixed interest rates based on credit score and history. Federal student loan interest rates for 2024 are 4.99% for undergraduate loans, 6.54% for graduate or professional loans, and 7.54% for PLUS loans. Private student loans can have interest rates ranging from 1% to 13%.

Scholarships and Grants for Law Students

Paying for law school can be expensive, but there are scholarships and grants available to help. These financial aid options can cover tuition, books, and other costs, making law school more affordable for students. Here are some scholarships and grants specifically for law students:

  1. 7Sage 7K Law School Scholarship: $7,000 for pre-law and incoming 1L students within the next three years. It includes free access to 7Sage’s LSAT prep package and pro bono admissions consulting.
  2. ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund: Sponsored by the American Bar Association. With $15,000 over three years for diverse law students. It is awarded to racially or ethnically diverse students in their first year of law school.
  3. American Indian College Fund: Full Circle Scholarship Program for Native American U.S. citizens
  4. Attorney Ken Nugent Legal Scholarship: $2,500 for undergraduate law school applicants and current law school students.
  5. BARBRI Law Preview’s Course Scholarships: Full-tuition scholarships for entering 1Ls to attend Law Preview’s law school prep course.
  6. Robert A. McNew Law Student Scholarship: It is available to law student associate members of the Federal Bar Association.
  7. Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF): 5 to 15 scholarships of $2,000 to $10,000 each.
  8. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.: Scholarships for law students and/or law school graduates.
  9. The Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholar Program: $10,000 per year for three years for racially and ethnically diverse students.
  10. United Negro College Fund (UNCF): Scholarships for law students.
  11. One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship: It is eligible for first-year law students. It awards to 10 students: $10,000 for the first-place winner, $5,000 for the second-place winner, and $1,000 each for the next eight runners-up.
  12. Zelle Diversity In Law Scholarship: For law students who are members of underrepresented groups.

Application Process and Deadlines:

  • Application processes and deadlines vary for each scholarship or grant. It’s important for students to research each opportunity carefully and adhere to the specific requirements and deadlines.
  • Many scholarships and grants require students to submit an application, essay, letters of recommendation, and/or transcripts.
  • Deadlines for scholarships and grants can range from early in the academic year to several months before the start of the academic term.

Alternative Funding Options:

  • Employer Tuition Assistance: Some employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs for employees pursuing advanced degrees, including law school.
  • External Scholarships: Students can explore scholarship opportunities from private organizations, foundations, and community groups.
  • Work Part-Time: Consider working part-time while in law school to help cover expenses.
  • Federal Work-Study Program: Eligible students can participate in the Federal Work-Study Program, which provides part-time employment to help pay for educational expenses.
  • Crowdfunding: Some students use crowdfunding platforms to raise funds for tuition and other educational expenses.