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10 Best Student Loans for Law Schools | Find the Best Loan for You

10 for Law Schools | Find the Best Loan for You

student loan

Law school can be expensive, especially if you plan to attend a private school. On average, you can expect to pay $51,268 annually on tuition and fees alone, according to U.S. News data. Public schools are cheaper, but even with in-state tuition, the average cost is $29,074. Understanding the best ways to pay for law school, especially with a student loan is key to minimizing your costs after graduation.

for Law Schools

Earnest

3.49% to 13.03% with autopay Fixed APR
$57,550 Max. Loan Amount
650 Min. Credit Score

College Ave

3.34% to 12.99% with autopay Fixed APR
No maximum Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Sallie Mae

4.25% to 12.59% Fixed APR
Not disclosed Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Discover

4.24% to 12.99% with autopay Fixed APR
No maximum Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

U-fi

3.59% to 12.34% Fixed APR
$125,000 Max. Loan Amount
680 Min. Credit Score

PNC

4.44% to 9.59% with autopay Fixed APR
$50,000 yearly Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

SoFi

4.23% to 11.26% with autopay Fixed APR
No maximum Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

CommonBond

3.74% to 10.74% with autopay Fixed APR
$500,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Ascent Funding

3.34% to 14.00% with autopay Fixed APR
$200,000 Max. Loan Amount
540 Min. Credit Score

Find the for You

Best for fair credit

Earnest is an online lender offering private to current college and graduate students and refinancing to graduates. The company was founded in 2013. Borrowers can choose their loan terms to fund up to the full cost of their education.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, co-signer, refinancing, Parent PLUS refinancing, MBA, law, medical
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 650
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Earnest doesn’t charge origination, application or late fees.

  • You can choose your monthly payment and loan term length.

  • You can use a co-signer on undergraduate or graduate , and refinancing is available.

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Best for customer service

Education Loan Finance, also known as ELFI, is a refinancing program offered by SouthEast Bank. Options are available in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to refinance private and federal , including undergraduate, graduate, parent and MBA loans, as well as loans for law, dental and medical school. ELFI also offers private loans for students at eligible institutions.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent loans, refinancing, parent refinancing, MBA, law, health care
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 680
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • There are no application, origination or prepayment fees.

  • All types of are eligible for refinancing.

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Best for instant approval

College Ave offers to borrowers in all 50 states. Undergraduate, graduate and parent loans are available. The lender specializes in simple applications with an instant decision.
student loans

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent loans, refinancing, MBA, law, dental, medical, career, international
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Loans are available from $1,000 up to 100% of the student’s school-certified cost of attendance.

  • Borrowers can make full payments while in school, or choose to pay interest only, pay a flat fee, or defer payments.

  • College Ave have no origination or prepayment fees.

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Best for product availability

Sallie Mae is a publicly-traded consumer bank that offers private to pay for undergraduate, graduate and specialty degrees. The company started in 1972 as a government entity that serviced federal . It went private in 2004 and has served nearly half a million students and families with its range of products. Beyond , Sallie Mae Bank offers savings products to help families plan and pay for college, and credit cards with incentives for using cash back reward to pay back .

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, career training, parent, K-12, graduate, MBA, medical, medical residency, dental, dental residency, health professions, law school, bar study
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • completely cover school-certified expenses such as tuition, fees, books, housing, meals, travel or a laptop.

  • Customer service is 100% U.S.-based.

  • Borrowers don’t have to pay a loan origination fee.

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Best for no fees

Discover Bank has been operating for more than 100 years, and since 2010, it has offered private to students attending more than 2,400 colleges and universities. Loans of up to 100% of education costs with fixed or variable rates are available.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent, refinancing, MBA, law, international, consolidation, health professions, residency, bar exam. International loans require a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Loans as small as $1,000 are available.

  • Discover has no origination, application or late fees.

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Best for flexible loan terms

U-fi from Nelnet offers private and refinancing loans to borrowers in all U.S. states except Vermont. Undergraduate, graduate and refinancing loans are available. The lender specializes in offering flexible repayment options.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law, health professions, refinance
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 680
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Borrowers can get up to 15 years to pay off the loan.

  • The lender offers an interest rate discount for automatic payments.

  • Borrowers can make full payments or pay interest only while in school, or defer payments.

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Best for ACH discount

PNC Bank was established in 1845 and operates in all 50 states. The bank is engaged in a number of community efforts, including its Grow Up Great program in conjunction with Sesame Workshop and various financial literacy efforts. For students, PNC offers opportunities to win $2,000 scholarships toward education expenses. PNC provides a range of loans for students at all stages of postsecondary education, including professional training loans and refinancing.
student loan

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, refinancing, MBA, law, dental, medical, bar and residency
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • PNC offers a range of loans for undergraduate, graduate and professional education.

  • Loans are available in all 50 states.

  • Borrowers can receive an interest rate discount for automatic payment from a checking or savings account.

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Best for multiple repayment options and no fees

SoFi is an online lender offering refinancing, undergraduate, graduate and parent loans in all 50 states. The lender has served more than 375,000 borrowers with $30 billion in refinanced . Although SoFi focused on refinancing in its early years, the company has expanded to also offer its own undergraduate, graduate and parent loans.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent loans, refinancing, parent refinancing, MBA, law, dental, medical
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • All types of are eligible for refinancing.

  • SoFi’s lending process is completely online.

  • Loan terms are available from five to 20 years.

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Best for online preapprovals

Founded in 2012, CommonBond has funded more than $3 billion in . The lender offers undergraduate, graduate, MBA and refinance loans.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, refinancing, parent refinancing, MBA, dental, medical, law,
  • Minimum FICO credit score: Not disclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: A co-signer is required for the undergraduate and graduate products. No co-signer is required for MBA, dental or medical loans. The lender offers a co-signer release after 24 on-time, consecutive payments. Parent PLUS loans can be refinanced to the child’s name if they are eligible borrowers.
  • Better Business Bureau rating: B+

Best Features

  • Co-signers are accepted for all loans.

  • Borrowers can make up to full monthly payments while in school or choose to pay interest only, a flat fee or defer payments.

  • Online preapproval is available.

See full profile

Best for bad credit

Ascent offers to borrowers in all 50 states. Undergraduate and graduate loans are available. The lender specializes in providing opportunities for students to borrow loans in their own names.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law, dental, medical, international, health professionals, graduate Ph.D./general, DACA students with an eligible co-signer
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 540
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A

Best Features

  • Ascent offers a 1% cash back graduation reward with the satisfaction of certain terms and conditions.

  • Co-signed loans offer the ability to make full payments while in school and during a nine-month grace period following graduation, or choose to pay interest only, a flat fee or defer payments.

  • Ascent have no origination, prepayment or application fees.

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Find the for You

How Do Law School Loans Work?

Law school are available to help you pay for your education for a career in law. They offer higher loan amounts than undergraduate loans but also typically charge higher interest rates. Some lenders even offer loans that you can use to prepare for your state’s bar exam.

What Are the Different Types of Student Law School Loans?

There are a handful of different types of student loans you can get to pay for law school. Understanding each one will give you a better chance of getting the right loan features based on your needs.

Direct PLUS Loans

There is no set limit to how much you can borrow with federal Direct PLUS loans, making them worth considering if you’re planning to attend an expensive school. They also provide all the same benefits as other federal loans, including access to loan forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment plans.

However, Direct PLUS loans charge the highest interest rate among all federal . You’ll also pay an upfront loan fee and undergo a credit check. The credit check won’t affect your interest rate.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

This federal loan program limits the amount you can borrow every year and in total. Like Direct PLUS loans, you’ll get access to all the benefits federal loans provide. But these loans come with a lower interest rate and loan fee than the Direct PLUS loan program.

It’s often best to start with these and then consider other options once you reach your limit.

Private Law School Loans

Some private lenders offer specifically tailored for law school students. Others may just offer a generic graduate school loan. Private terms can vary depending on the lender, but they usually don’t charge upfront fees like federal loans.

You can also expect to undergo a credit check to determine whether you qualify and what your interest rate will be. These can be worth considering if you can qualify for a lower interest rate than what the federal loan programs offer and don’t anticipate needing any federal loan benefits.

However, it’s impossible to predict the future, so getting federal loans first may be a safer bet, says Erika Kullberg, an attorney who paid off $225,000 in law school in two years. “If you have the choice between private and federal , I always recommend going for federal .”

student loan

How to Apply for a Law School Loan

Applying for for law school is a relatively simple process, but it’s important to take these steps seriously and early. Even if you’re sure you want to apply only for federal or private student loans, it’s a good idea to take both steps.

Fill Out Your FAFSA Information

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is required if you want federal student loans. The FAFSA asks about yourself, your finances and, depending on your situation, your parents’ financial information.

Once you submit the application, your school will put together a financial aid award letter, which spells out how much you can borrow and what the terms will be.

Look Into Private Loan Lenders

Private companies require you to formally apply to get a binding offer. But some also allow you to get rate quotes through a prequalification process. This process only requires a soft credit check, which won’t change your credit score.

The result will give you a good idea of the terms you’ll qualify for if you submit an official application. With this information, you’ll be able to compare options among private lenders, as well as with federal student loans.

“Be sure to evaluate the interest rate you actually qualify for and not the lowest rate they offer,” says Ashley Norwood-Struppa, Northeast regional director for AccessLex Center for Education and Financial Capability and former U.S. News contributor. “This can make a big difference in your overall payment amount. You should also consider the flexibility of the repayment options and how long the repayment options offered are.”

How to Choose the Right Law for You

It can be challenging to decide which type of law school loan you should choose. While federal loans are accessible with or without a credit history, private loans require a credit check, and lenders will deny you or charge you a high rate if your credit score is less than stellar.

And while private lenders can offer lower interest rates than the Department of Education, there’s no such thing as private forgiveness; there’s no way to pay a lower monthly payment based on your income if you end up struggling financially after graduation.

As such, you should take the time to research all of your options so you understand both the benefits and the drawbacks. Then use that information to decide the best path forward for you.

Alternative Ways to Pay for Law School

Student loans can be an easy and effective way to get the money you need for law school, but other methods don’t involve borrowing, which can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Scholarships

Depending on your school, you may be able to get a scholarship to help you pay your tuition. You can also search for scholarships from private organizations on websites like Scholarships.com and Fastweb.

Law School Grants

Some colleges offer grants to law students based on their financial needs. Check with your school to find out if grants are available to help you.

Work-Study Programs or Part-Time Jobs

Working while you’re in law school isn’t always the best decision because of the rigors of the program.

“Many law schools will encourage students against working, especially during their first year of law school if attending full time,” says Norwood-Struppa. “Law students can work during the summer and breaks to help lower the amount needed to borrow to cover their cost of attending law school.”

The work-study program is a needs-based federal program, so you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA to see if you qualify. During the summer you can work as a summer associate at a law firm or get an internship.

How to Pay Back a Law School

Repaying law school loans works similarly to other types of student loans. If you get federal loans, payments are automatically deferred until you’re out of school. With private lenders, you may have more options.

For example, you can choose to defer your payments as with federal student loans. Alternatively, you may be able to choose to start making full payments from the start or even just interest-only payments while you’re in school. You might also be able to consolidate your loans once you graduate.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how you should pay back your law school student loans. It’s important to consider your current financial situation and future goals to make the best decision for you.

Kullberg also suggests preparing yourself now for when you’ll need to start making payments. “Focusing on forming good money habits during law school will make it easier to pay off your student loans after you graduate,” she says. For instance, learn how to budget and track expenses. “Find a budgeting system that works well for you.”

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