Law Students

6 Ways of Making Law School More Affordable
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Summary: There are options to help make law school more affordable so that students don’t build up more debt than necessary.

Figuring out how to pay for law school can be a challenging and scary task. No matter whether attending a public or private institution, there will be a high price tag. Student Loan Hero gives options to help students limit the amount of debt they graduate with. The best option for a student would be to combine methods to save the most money.

  
What
Where


  1. Lower cost law schools

Going to a prestigious or high-priced private law school may be nice but the debt may not always be worth it. Attorney Amber Masters explains, “I shopped for a reputable but inexpensive law school. Law school cost me less than $50,000, which is well under the national average of student loan debt, which still hovers at close to $140,000.

  1. Scholarships

There are countless scholarships out there. Even if just small amounts, every little bit helps and deducts from the total bill. Attorney Brenda Resendiz said, “To help alleviate costs, I applied for scholarships both within school as well as through outside programs.” Scholarships can be found through your school and online but you can also find them by networking. There are organizations and companies that provide scholarships that are not posted online. Those in your network may know about these and be able to direct you to them. Resendiz added, “Networking also gave me a huge advantage. Often, lawyers would refer me to organizations that were accepting scholarship applications.” She was able to get scholarships from individual law firms.

  1. Work

Attorney Jared Staver helped pay for law school by having a job. He said, “I got a job delivering newspapers in elementary school and haven’t stopped working since. However, I understand that working while trying to get through law school is a daunting task.” Masters added, “There are plenty of job opportunities for law students, ranging from becoming a research assistant to a professor on campus to working at a big law firm over a summer. Working during school and during the summers helped me quite a bit.” There are some jobs that may provide extra help by being in the industry already and having a job lined up after graduation.

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  1. Federal student loans

Even with all of the other options, most students are going to need some student loans to provide the remainder of the financial support. Grad students can borrow up to $20,500 a year with a 6 percent rate with the Direct Unsubsidized Loans. There are also Direct PLUS Loans that can provide additional money if tuition is more. These loans require a credit check and have an interest rate of 7 percent.

  1. Private student loans

Someone with good credit may be able to get a private student loan at a lower interest rate than the government loans. While this sounds nice, it is important to consider all options, especially if you still have federal loans you can take out. Staver notes, “Once you have finished law school, there are certain career paths that will aid you in repayment of your student loans. Working in public service can qualify you for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.” This program allows those who work at least ten years in nonprofit, government, or other public service positions to receive forgiveness on their loans if they have first made 120 on-time, qualifying payments. If you take out private loans, you cannot qualify for this program or for income-based payment plans. A student that plans on working in a big law firm could handle a big private loan, but students looking to work in less glamorous positions may struggle to repay the amount. Also, ensure the terms of the loan do not require you to start paying back the loan until you have graduated.



  1. Income-share agreements

Some students will be able to use an income-share agreement to pay for law school. These plans require the student to pay a percentage of their income for a certain time after graduation. Investors enter into these plans assuming they will see a strong return on their investment because the student will do a good job. Students considering this option should be careful. As Seton Hall University assistant professor Robert Kelchen says, “Students who think they’ll make a lot of money after college may not want to consider the ISAs. They can be an expensive proposition for students who do really well even if the terms are better than for other majors.”

What options did you use or would you use for law school? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about student loan debt, read these articles:

Photo: pixabay.com



 

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