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Student Loans

Best Law School Loans

If you’re planning on joining the legal profession, chances are you’ve already considered your student loan options. With the incredibly high cost of a law school degree, just about everyone with aspirations of becoming a lawyer will need to take on student debt to make it a reality.

With such a high student loan burden, choosing the right type of loan becomes even more imperative. Let’s go through the options available to you so that you can pick the best law school loan.

Best law school loans

Incoming law school students can choose from either federal or private student loans. Federal student loans may have lower interest rates and extra benefits like income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs, and extended forbearance periods.

Private student loans may offer lower interest rates than federal loans if you have good credit and a cosigner. Borrowers can choose between a variable or fixed interest rate with a private loan.

Loan/lenderRates (APR)Loan amount
Unsubsidized Loan*5.28%Varies
Grad PLUS Loan*6.28%Varies
College Ave1.99%11.98%$1,000 – 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
Sallie Mae2.62%12.11%$1,000 – 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
Earnest0.94%10.99%$1,000 – 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
Ascent1.79%14.54%1$2,001 – $400,000

* This is a federal student loan.

Federal law school loans

The first step to paying for law school is to maximize all federal student loans. These loans tend to have lower interest rates, more loan repayment plans, and better borrower protections. You can also qualify for loan forgiveness options, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan.

To be eligible for federal student loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You must fill out the FAFSA by the deadline every year you want to receive federal student loans. The FAFSA will ask for personal and financial information to determine if you qualify for federal loans.

There are two types of federal student loans for law students: Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS loans. Both types of federal loans are eligible for the same types of repayment options and loan forgiveness.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

With Direct Unsubsidized Loans, you can qualify for $20,500 per year. The interest rate for Direct Unsubsidized Loans is 6.54% for graduate or professional students.

Direct PLUS Loans

If you reach the Direct Unsubsidized Loan limit and still need more money, you can take out a Direct PLUS loan to fill the gap. The annual limit for a Direct PLUS loan is the cost of attendance minus other financial aid. The interest rate for Direct Grad PLUS loans is 7.54%.

Best private law school loans

Some students turn to private student loans if they can qualify for a lower interest rate than what they’d find with a federal student loan. However, private student loans offer fewer repayment options.

If you plan to become a prosecutor, public defender, or work in a legal aid clinic, you’ll likely be better off with a federal loan because of its loan forgiveness plans. But if you plan to work in the private sector, then you may not need some of the benefits that come with federal loans.

Read below for our picks for the best private law school loans.

College Ave: Best overall

LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5

  • Choose from 20 different repayment schedules
  • Defer payments during clerkship
  • Apply in just 3 minutes

College Ave is an online lender offering various student loan products. Law school students can take out a graduate school loan from College Ave to cover tuition, fees, and living expenses.

College Ave allows graduates to defer their loans during clerkship, so they don’t have to stress about making payments. There is also a nine-month grace period.

College Ave stands out for having no application, origination, prepayment, or late payment fee.s A cosigner may be released if half of the original payment term has elapsed, annual income is greater than twice the balance of outstanding loans, and the borrower passes a credit review and is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

Earnest: Best for no fees

LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5

  • Skip one payment per year, if needed
  • No fees
  • Check your rate without impacting your credit

Earnest offers student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, including law school students. Their loans have low interest rates and nine-month grace periods.

Earnest allows law school graduates to skip one payment a year for free. Earnest also doesn’t charge fees to borrowers who make late payments.  Once per year, you can skip a payment for free.

You can prequalify with a soft credit check to see your estimated interest rate with a soft credit check. Loan amounts range from from $1,000 – 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. Earnest does not have cosigner release options

Sallie Mae: Best for cosigners

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Defer payments for up to 48 months during your clerkship or fellowship
  • Lower interest rates when you make interest-only payments while in school
  • Cosigners can be released after 12 on-time payments are made

As one of the biggest student loan providers on the market, Sallie Mae offers graduate school loans for law students with both fixed and variable interest rates.

One of the most unique benefits of Sallie Mae’s law school loan is that it includes 48 months of deferment during your clerkship or fellowship. Sallie Mae also offers a nine-month grace period and after that, you can make interest-only payments for 12 months. This provides even more flexibility than most other lenders offer.

Ascent: Best for eligibility

LendEDU rating: 4.3 out of 5

  • 1% cash back reward when you graduate
  • Postpone payments for up to 9 months after graduation
  • Check your rate without impacting your credit

Ascent is an online lender offering student loan products, focusing on borrowers who don’t have someone they can0 use as a cosigner. Borrowers with good credit scores can qualify for a law school loan by themselves.

Ascent’s law school loans have some of the lowest interest rates on the market and include various repayment terms and payment plans. They also have a nine-month grace period, longer than federal loans offer.

How to get student loans for law school

  1. Fill out the FAFSA. To qualify for federal student loans for law school, you must complete the FAFSA. Make sure to fill it out and send it by the school’s FAFSA deadline, which you can find on their financial aid website. FAFSA’s federal open enrollment begins October 1, and the deadline date is June 30. You must submit it for every school year.
  2. Wait for the results. It can take a couple of weeks to hear about your FAFSA results. The school should send you an award letter that shows how much you qualify for in federal loans.
  3. Look elsewhere. If you don’t qualify for federal loans, your next option is to take out a private student loan. Look through the lenders mentioned above and apply with a few of those.
  4. Compare offers. After you’ve applied for a loan, you should find out in a few days if you were approved and for how much. Pick the lender with the lowest interest rate and best repayment term. Make sure to compare other features like cosigner release and the grace period.

Law school loans FAQ

Taking out a loan for law school can be complicated, especially if you’ve never taken out student loans before. Keep reading to ensure you understand everything about law school student loans.

Do law school student loans cover bar exam costs?

Law school loans are intended to help you pay for tuition and expenses while you earn your degree. If you have finished school and need additional funding to cover exam-related fees or living expenses while studying for the bar exam, check out our guide to bar study loans

Which law school loan is the best?

Deciding which law school loan is best depends on your circumstances and which loans you’re eligible for. Federal student loans are often the best choice for those who qualify.

A private student loan is your only option if you don’t qualify for a federal student loan or you’ve reached the maximum amount available to you in federal loans. In that case, you should compare lenders and determine who will offer you the lowest interest rate and best terms.

College Ave was our choice as the best law school student loan.

Do I need a cosigner for law school loans?

You never need a cosigner for federal student loans, and most private lenders will not require a cosigner for law school loans. However, adding a cosigner can help you get a lower interest rate with a private lender.

The federal government will run a credit check if you’re taking out Direct PLUS Loans. There is no minimum credit score, but if you have an adverse event on your credit report, you may be required to add an endorser, which is like a cosigner.

Do law school loans cover living expenses?

Law school loans aren’t just for tuition. Most financial aid options for law school students cover a variety of expenses. This includes living costs like room and board, transportation, and other personal expenses.

Each school calculates its total cost of attendance, which includes tuition and living expenses like housing and transportation. The student loan money you receive will go toward tuition first, and you can use the leftover funds to pay for rent, groceries, bills, and more.

How much can I borrow with law school student loans?

The annual and aggregate borrowing limits depend on the type of loan and the specific lender. But most of the time, you can borrow up to the annual cost of attendance minus any other financial aid like grants and scholarships.

When does repayment on law school loans start?

Repayment depends on the type of loan. Federal loans and most private loans have a six-month grace period after graduation. You won’t have to make payments during that grace period, but interest will still accrue on your loan.

1 Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: Rates are effective as of 10/01/2022 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.  Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.