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Best Law School Loans

Attending law school can be very expensive, and most recent college graduates simply don’t have the resources to pay for this without taking out a loan. But thankfully, there are many lenders that are willing to provide financing in order to get your legal career off of the ground.

Best Law School Loans
Jason Steel
Personal Finance Journalist

When scholarships, grants and other forms of public loans fall short, it can be vital to turn to the private sector in order to pay for law school. Private loans are available to a much wider range of applicants, as opposed to other types of funding that can be need based, merit based or only given out to veterans. In researching private law school loans, our team of financial experts reviewed and ranked more than 30 online lenders to help you get funded.

Our Top Picks for Best Law School Loans

 sofi_logo_sl
  • No maximum loan limit
  • Prequalify without a credit check
  • Unemployment protection
  • Flexible repayment terms
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 650
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $5K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years
 ascentfunding_logo_sl
  • Qualify with or without a cosigner
  • 0.25% to 1% autopay discount available
  • Get prequalified with no credit score impact
  • No loan application fees
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 680+
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $2K-$200K
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years
 salliemae_logo_sl
  • Loans for a wide variety of educational programs
  • Fund supplemental educational costs, such as books, housing, meals
  • Fewer fees than some of its competitors
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not specified
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 10-15 years

How to Choose the Best Law School Loan?

While there are many private lenders that offer law school loans, you have to examine many important factors to choose the best one for your needs. Thankfully, our experts used the following parameters to rank the lenders:

  • Loan Features: We looked at the loan terms, loan amounts, and loan use limitations for each loan.
  • Interest rates and fees: It’s important to consider all of the different types of fees, and the minimum and maximum interest rates that can apply. This is especially true now that interest rates are changing rapidly.
  • Application process: When looking for the best law school loans, consider the invasiveness of the application process. What are its information requirements? Will the application require a hard-pull or soft-pull of your credit score? What is the funding time and does this loan offer distinctively competitive offerings?
  • Qualification process- Examine the loans minimum credit score and income requirements. Does the lender offer co-signer or joint applications? Are there membership requirements?
  • Customer support - Does the lender offer live customer service representatives. To what degree does it offer multi-channel support, as well as the availability of supplemental information and tools?
  • Online user reviews - Examine reviews on independent sites like Trustpilot.
  • Perks and Bonuses - Consider extra service offerings like payment flexibility, advertising transparency, and advanced technology like a mobile app.

Best Law School Loans for 2022 - Full Overview

1. SoFi - Best For Perks and Bonuses

sofi review
Introduction
- When you’re looking for the best law school loans, you want to consider SoFi, which received our high rating for perks and bonuses. For example, SoFi offers borrowers career services, financial advisors, networking events, and other extras, at no additional cost. There are also ways to earn and redeem points that help you to pay down your law school loan. You can earn points by doing things such as logging into the SoFi app, checking your credit score or setting up direct deposit.

Pros
Strong loan features.
Lots of perks and bonuses that can help you pay down your loan.
Cons
No bi-weekly payment option with autopay.

Features - SoFi offers Fixed and variable APR options, and can accept applicants with credit scores from the mid 600s. There are no fees, and SoFi offers up to four ways to repay. This includes deferred payments while in-school, as well as interest only payments. You also have the option of partial payments of $25 per month while in-school, or to immediately start making payments and interest. Sofi also offers career services and unemployment protection.

Bottom Line

SoFi is a good choice for law school loans due to its many perks and features. It also offers several repayment options and has no fees.

Try Sofi

2. Ascent Funding - Best for Extending Payment

Ascent Student Loans
Introduction
- Ascent Funding offers law school student loans with fixed and variable interest rate options with several term lengths. But Ascent distinguishes itself by offering an extended in-school period of as much as 36 months, as well as a nine month grace period for law school students after graduation. This can be critical as recent law school graduates may need time to prepare to take the bar exam before beginning to work. Ascent Financial also offers excellent payment flexibility.

Pros
Nine month grace period to allow new graduates time to take the bar exam.
36 month in-school time.
Payment flexibility.
Cons
Must be enrolled half time or more to qualify.

Features- Ascent Financial offers repayment terms of 7, 10, 12 or 15 years on its variable and fixed rate law school loans. It also offers an extended in-school period of up to 36 months, giving students a little extra time to finish their degree. And after graduation, you can postpone your payment with a grace period of up to nine months. The minimum credit score is in the mid-500s and loan amounts can be up to $200,000

Bottom Line

When you want flexibility to spend a bit more time working on your degree, and have some extra time after graduation to start paying your loans, Ascent Financial is there for you. By offering numerous term lengths and a reasonable minimum credit score, Ascent financial is a good choice for law school students who need to extend payment.

3. Sallie Mae- Best for Loan Features

Sallie Mae
Introduction
- Sallie Mae offers law school loans with plenty of features. For example, it offers 100% coverage of expenses including not just tuition, but also fees, books, housing, meals and travel. You can even use your loan to pay for a laptop. Sallie Mae offers law school graduates 48 months of deferment during their clerkship or fellowship, and a nine month grace period at the start of their careers.

Pros
48 months for deferment for a clerkship or fellowship.
Online tutoring and free credit score monitoring.
Cons
No prequalification option.

Features - Sallie Mae offers loan amounts starting at $1,000 and going up to 100% of school-certified expenses. These loans are open to citizens and non-U.S. citizens alike, including DACA students who can apply with a U.S. co-signer. These loans also offer four years of additional deferment time, plus a nine month grace period when you begin your law career. You even receive 12 interest only payments for months when you’re having trouble making ends meet.

Bottom Line

There’s more to a law school loan than just rates and fees. Features matter, and Sallie Mae law school loans are one of the best ways to go when you’re looking for valuable features.

4. Earnest - Best For Low Rates and Fees

Earnest
Introduction
- Earnest offers law school loans with low rates and no fees. In fact, borrowers can even skip a payment once a year. Other benefits include a simple application, fast decisions and customized payments. There’s also a nine month grace period to give you time to study for the bar exam.

Pros
Variable rates starting at just 1.34%, including a 0.25% autopay discount.
Most approvals are within 72 hours.
Competitive interest rates offered
Cons
Minimum income of $35,000 required.
No prequalification option.
Loan origination fees may apply

Features - Earnest is best known for offering very low rates and fees, as low as 1.34% APR with an autopay discount. They offer terms lengths 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years and loan amounts starting at $1,000 and ending at the total cost of attendance. You do have to have a minimum income of $35,000. There are no late fees, an option to skip a payment every 12 months and a nine month grace period after graduation before you have to start making payments. This can give you time to prepare to take the bar exam.

Bottom Line

When the most important thing for your law school loan is rates and fees, Earnest might have the answer. By offering very low interest rates, low fees and the ability to skip a payment each year, this may be the flexible option that frugal law school students are looking for.

5. College Ave - Best for Long Payment Terms

College Ave
Introduction
- Attending law school can be extremely expensive, but it’s worth it if you plan to practice for decades to come. Yet many law school loans only have terms of up to 12 or 15 years. College Ave is different as it offers a law school loan with a 20 year term, which makes for smaller monthly payments. It also offers four different repayment options, a long grace period and deferral options.

Pros
Repayment terms of up to 20 years.
Nine month grace period
Deferrals for another 12 months during a clerkship.
Cons
Must pay off half your loan before you can get a co-signer release.

Features - College Ave offers competitive law school loans with interest rates starting at 1.99% It offers term lengths of 5, 8, 10, 15 or 20 years, which can give you a lower monthly payment and a longer time to pay off your loan. Loans start at $1,000 and can cover all of your attendance costs. Applications can be completed in as little as three minutes, but you need a credit score in the mid 600s to be approved.

Bottom Line

30 year home mortgages are common, but it’s rare to find a law school loan that gives you more than 12 or 15 years to repay. That’s unfortunate, as a longer repayment period means a lower monthly payment. A law school education is a serious investment, and College Ave gives you the time you need to pay it off.

6. MPOWER - Best for International Students

MPower Financing
Introduction
- The American higher education system is the envy of the world, and many will come to the United States to study law. But many of these students will need loans, just like U.S. citizens. MPOWER offers student loans for international students attending law school in the United States.

Pros
No co-signer or U.S. credit history required.
Loan options from $2,001 to $100,000
Visa support letters.
Cons
You must make payments while in school and during the grace period.
Only a 10 year repayment option.

Features - MPOWER loans are perfect for foreign law school students and DACA students. Borrowers receive access to a dedicated student loan advisor and receive free Visa support services. There’s no collateral or cosigner required and you don’t even need a U.S. credit history. In fact, MPOWER is a social benefit corporation that was created by international students for international students. Their mission is to make socioeconomic mobility borderless.

Bottom Line

If you’re a foreign national attending law school in the United States, there aren’t a lot of options for you when it comes to financing. By providing law school loans to foreign students, MPOWER offers a much needed service that helps people from around the world obtain legal degrees in the United States.

7. Discover Student Loans - Best for Good Grades Rewards

Discover
Introduction
- Children are often rewarded by their parents for getting good grades, but here’s a law school student loan that gives you a cash reward for finishing with excellent grades. Discover Student Loans offers law school loans of up to 100% of your school-certified costs. It also offers competitive interest rates and allows you to set your own terms.

Pros
Earn 1% of your loan amount back when you have a GPA of 3.0 or above.
Choose fixed or variable interest rates and deferment options.
Cons
Loan terms are set at 20 years.

Features - With a Discover law school loan, you will get 1% of your loan amount back if you graduate with a 3.0 GPA or more. For many, this could be a 100,000 or more, since Discover will loan up to all of your school-certified costs. Discover offers a quick application process, and you can receive a 0.25% interest rate reduction when you enroll in autopay. Discover also offers several repayment and deferment options, with no penalty for repayment.

Bottom Line

If you’re a high achiever, then a Discover law school loan may be right for you. Bye earning 1% of your loan amount as cash back, Discover gives you the best incentive to get good grades while offering competitive rates.

8. ELFI - Best for User Reviews

ELFI
Introduction
- These days, the most accurate information about a company’s services can come from user reviews. ELFI is the Education Loan Finance Company, and rates highest among law school student loan providers for user reviews. That’s no surprise as the company boasts award winning customer service.

Pros
High user reviews and customer services ratings.
No origination and application fees.
Cons
$10,000 minimum loan amount.
No co-signer release

Features - ELFI offers law school loans with no origination or application fees. Terms are available from five to 15 years with competitive interest rates. And even though it’s ranked very highly from users, borrowers must have a 680 FICO credit score and borrow at least $10,000. There’s also no cosigner release available and no prepayment penalties.

Bottom Line

If high user ratings and strong customer service matter to you, then you should consider a law school loan from ELFI. While there are no application or origination fees, you need to take into account that the minimum loan amount is $10,000.

Try ELFI

Best Law School Loans - Feature Comparison

Fill in the table with the required features for each lender.


Company Name

Est. APR

Min. credit score

Loan Amount

Loan term

SoFi

4.75% - 12.70% APR

Mid 600s

$5,000 minimum

5, 7, 10 or 15 years

Ascent Financial

0.98% – 11.80%

Mid 500s

Up to $200,000

5, 7, 10 or 15 years

Sallie Mae

2.50% APR to 12.10% APR

Mid 600s

100% of expenses.

5, 10 or 15 years

Earnest

1.34-11.44%

650

$1,000 to total amount.

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years.

College Ave

1.99% - 10.45%

Mid 600s

$1,000 to total amount.

5, 8, 10, 15 and 20 years.

MPower Financing

7.52-14.98%

N/A

Up to $100,000

20 years.

Discover Student Loans

3.49% - 12.99%

Not disclosed

Minimum $1,000

15 or 20 years.

ELFI

1.86% to 11.52%

680

Minimum $1,000
5 to 15 years

What’s the average cost of law school?

Law school isn’t cheap. In the U.S. the average private law school costs $51,268 a year in tuition and fees, while public, in-state students pay $29,074 in tuition and fees. Out of state students pay an average of $42,143 per year in tuition and fees. Since law school lasts for three years, you have to triple these numbers to get a picture of your total costs. You should also add in living expenses such as food and housing, as well as technology expenses such as a laptop and internet access.

How Do Law School Loans Work?

How Much Can You Borrow In Law School Loans?

The amount of money that you can borrow for law school depends on the lender. Some have caps on the amount you can borrow while others will allow you to borrow up to the full amount of tuition and fees, as well as for food, housing, books and even the cost of a computer.

How Do You Get The Best Interest Rate On Law School Loans?

Getting the lowest possible interest rate on a law school loan is possible only for those with the highest credit scores. Having a credit score of 740 or above is considered to be excellent. Other than having a high credit score, it can help to shop around for the lowest interest rates.

Can Law School Loans Be Used To Cover Living Expenses?

Yes, some law school loans can be used to cover food, housing and other expenses. Some lenders even cover the cost of a laptop and books, so that 100% of your certified education expenses can be rolled into your law school loan.

What Is the Average Student Loan Debt for Lawyers?

According to the American Bar Association, the average law school graduate graduates with approximately $165,000 in debt. In fact, more than 95% of students take out loans to attend law school, and more than 55 percent of students report postponing buying a house. On top of that , nearly 30% reported postponing or deciding not to get married.

How Long Do Law School Loans Take to Pay Off?

While most law school loans are for 5 to 15 years, the average time it takes to pay off a law school loan is actually 20 years. That’s because students can refinance their loans, extending the time that they can take to fully repay them.

Can Law School Loans Be Forgiven?

Yes, but only in certain cases. For example, Department of Justice employees can apply for a forgiveness program if they have at least $10,000 in federal student loans and meet other qualifying criteria. Most federal student loans are eligible, and DOJ employees can apply for up to $6,000 in forgiveness per calendar year, with a lifetime maximum of $60,000.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a Law School Loan?

You have to be enrolled at least part-time in an accredited law school and have a credit score that meets the lender’s minimum. Some lenders will also require you to cosign with another person. Other lenders may require you to be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Types of Law School Loans

There are three main types of law school loans available.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal direct unsubsidized loans are available up to a total of $20,500 each year from the Dept. of Education. These loans have a six month grace period after graduation until repayment begins. There are also flexible rate plans

Graduate PLUS Loans

If you don’t have bad credit, you can apply for Graduate PLUS Loans, and those with credit problems can apply with an endorser who has good credit. You can borrow up to the amount of the school’s cost of attendance, minus other financial aid you received.

Private Law School Loans

Private law school loans are issued by private lenders, just like most other kinds of loans. They can have different payment periods, and different qualifications for borrowers. You can choose loans with fixed or variable interest rates, and some loans have grace periods and other features. Some even allow you to skip payments occasionally.

Pros and cons

Pros

For many, this is the only way to afford to attend law school.
Law school loans can cover living expenses such as housing and food.
Law school loans can offer competitive rates compared with other types of loans.
These loans can offer grace periods and extensions so that borrowers don’t have to repay while they are studying for the bar or working on a clerkship.

Cons

Law school loans can keep lawyers in debt for decades.
There may be other sources of funding available such as scholarship, grants and work-study programs.
Variable rate loans can go up to very high levels when interest rates rise.
Some students are able to avoid debt by paying their own way through law school or by taking loans from family members.

How to Apply for Private Law School Loans

There are several steps necessary to apply for a law school loan.

  • Shop around for the best loans. Consider rates, fees, benefits and customer service. You need to research the differences between federal private student loans. Federal loans are issued by the government, while private loans are offered by banks, credit unions and other institutions.

  • Collect the documents that you will need. Once you’ve found the loan you want to apply for, you’ll have to collect all the documents you need to apply. With Federal loans, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). But with private student loans, the application process will be much different. In fact, it will be much like applying for other loans, and you’ll need to supply information about your identity and income. You’ll also have to authorize the lender to check your credit reports.

  • Fill out and submit the applications. You can apply for one or more student loans, in order to shop around and see which one offers the best terms. Thankfully, multiple applications for student loans within 14 days will be treated as a single application on your credit scores, so price shopping won’t hurt your score.

  • Choose the loans you will accept. Once you’ve received a decision from the lenders, you’ll need to choose which loan or loans you would like to accept. There will be some paperwork to accept the loans, and you’ll need to specify where the money will go. Tuition will be paid directly to the school, while you might receive a check or direct deposit for other expenses.

FAQs

What’s the difference between bar study loans and law school loans?

A bar study loan isn’t a student loan, it’s a personal loan. Personal loans generally have higher interest rates than student loans. If you can find other sources to finance your living expenses during your bar study period, you can avoid these costly loans.

Can you get financial aid for law school?

Yes, many law schools offer financial aid for tuition, books, fees and living expenses. This aid can be need based, or based on other criteria. There are also scholarships and grants from various types of associations including local bar associations, fraternities, sororities, and other social clubs. Sometimes religious and business organizations can offer financial aid. There are even private companies that offer to pay part of their employee’s tuition.

How can you get a law school loan with bad credit?

There is no credit check required to get Federal student loans, including Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized loans. And while there are private student loans available to applicants with bad credit, you can expect to pay a much higher interest rate, and have higher fees. Having a cosigner with good credit can also be a way for law school students with bad credit to get a student loan.

What credit score do you need to get a law school loan without a cosigner?

There’s no single number, but it becomes much harder to get a law school student loan without a cosigner when your credit score is below the mid 600s. However, there is no credit check required to get Federal student loans, including Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized loans.

What alternatives are there to law school loans?

There are several ways to pay for law school without getting a student loan. For example, you can receive scholarships that are available to students based on their need or other factors. There are also grants from individuals and organizations that can provide funds for law school. Another option is a work-study program that allows you to pay for tuition as you go. You can also use your savings and employment income.

Is Going Into Debt for Law School Worth It?

Looking at it from a purely financial perspective, it may often be worth it to incur debt to go to law school. If you expect your income as a lawyer to vastly exceed what you would have made otherwise, then it can be easy to see how the additional financing costs of a law school loan can be justified. However, the finances is just one way of looking at it, and you need to take into account your desire to become a lawyer, and whether this is worth taking on the cost of a law school degree, including the financing costs.

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About the Author

Jason Steel

Jason Steel

Personal Finance Journalist

Writing about credit cards and travel rewards since 2008

More about me