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Preparing for the bar exam can take months. During that time, many people choose not to work, instead opting for bar preparation courses to help maximize their chances of passing their exam.
Course fees, combined with a lack of income, can really add up. The good news is, bar loans are available to help.
Bar study loans—also called bar prep loans—are a form of financial aid that comes from private student loan lenders and provides the funding necessary to cover living expenses and bar preparation course fees.
In this guide:
- Bar Study Loan
- What is a Bar Study Loan?
- Benefits of Bar Loans
- Downsides of Bar Loans
- Alternatives to Bar Study Loans
Bar Study Loan
7.39% – 12.82%
4.52% – 9.58%
$1,000 – $16,000
LendEDU Rating: 4.4 / 5
Citizens Bank is one of the U.S.’s largest banks and offers a variety of loans online. One of these is the company’s bar exam study loan, available to recent law school grads or enrolled students preparing for the bar exam. Here is some information about Citizens Bank’s bar exam study loans:
- Soft-Credit Check: Personalized rate estimates are available after a soft credit check.
- Repayment Terms: 5 or 10 years
- In-school repayment options: Options include deferment, interest-only payments, and full payments.
- Deferment Period: 6 months
- Cosigner Release: After 36 consecutive on-time payments.
- Unique benefits: 0.25% autopay rate discount, 0.25% loyalty discount.
What is a Bar Study Loan?
Bar study loans are private student loans specifically intended for law school graduates who are preparing for the bar exam. These are offered only by private lenders—the Department of Education doesn’t provide any federal student loans for graduates who need time to study for the bar.
Applying for bar study loans will require you to submit a separate application with a private student loan lender. If you’d prefer not to do this, you could try to borrow more when you take out federal or private student loans during your last year of school.
If you budget to determine how much money you’ll need to live on—and pay for bar review courses—and you’re able to borrow enough to pay for these costs, you won’t have to apply for a separate student loan.
However, it’s not always possible to make your money stretch this far, and you might not want to take on additional interest-bearing student loan debt earlier than you need to. If you can’t cover the costs of studying for the bar with your other student loans or by working, you will have no choice but to take out a bar study loan.
Benefits of Bar Loans
Some of the big advantages of bar loans include:
- Bar study loans provide the flexibility to study for the bar without worrying about how you’ll pay for school or bar prep programs.
- You can apply for bar study loans even after graduation. This isn’t possible with federal student loans.
- You can borrow more money. Most federal and private student loans are limited to the school’s estimated cost of attendance. With bar loans, you can obtain access to additional funds you need while studying for this important exam.
Downsides of Bar Loans
There are also some downsides of bar loans you need to be aware of, including the following:
- Bar loans often have higher interest rates than many other kinds of student loans.
- You don’t get borrower protections that federal loans provide.
- You often can apply for bar loans only for a limited period of time.
Alternatives to Bar Study Loans
If you don’t want to take out bar study loans, you have other options including:
- Getting help from an employer: Some employers will pay for you to study for the bar exam if you are hired to come work for them after graduation. If your employer does this, you usually must commit to staying with the employer for several years.
- Working while studying: This is impractical for most people, but you could try to work while you are preparing for the bar so you don’t need to borrow money to live on.
- Using leftover student loans: If you have money left from federal or private student loans obtained during the school year, you could use it to fund your bar study expenses.
- Personal loans: You could take out a personal loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender to help fund your expenses. But you’ll need to be able to qualify.
>> Read more: How to Pay for Law School
Bottom Line: Bar Study Loans Can Make Studying for the Bar Possible
You don’t want to worry about money when you’re trying to pass the bar exam. Bar study loans can make it possible for you to focus on preparing for the test without working or stressing about how to pay for courses or educational materials you need to become a lawyer.
Just be sure to shop around to find the most affordable loan rates, and don’t borrow any more than you need because this will just turn into more debt you’ll have to pay back once you start working.
Author: Christy Rakoczy