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Paying for Law School: Financial Aid

The University of Washington School of Law’s Commitment to Institutional Aid

The UW School of Law is dedicated to helping students meet educational expenses through loans, grants, and scholarships. The law school and the University of Washington's Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) are committed to offering a comprehensive financial aid package to help students achieve their educational goals while minimizing student educational debt.

Financial Literacy for Law Students

Incoming Students

Planning ahead and making informed financial choices can make a difference before, during, and after law school.  Following are some helpful tips for incoming students.

Cost of Attendance

Before you sign any promissory notes, you will want to determine what will be your total cost of attendance.  Consider expenses outside of tuition and fees such as how much your rent/mortgage payments, transportation, books and supplies, health insurance, and other living expenses such as food and entertainment.  The University has provided an estimate of expenses for law students here.  The cost of attendance determines a student’s financial aid budget for any given year and many students are able to attend law school that is below those amounts.  By planning ahead, students are able to offset significant costs and lower their student loan indebtedness.

Sometimes a student’s financial circumstance does not fit the ordinary incoming law student.  In those cases, students just need to submit the appropriate form so that the Office of Student Financial Aid counselors can review the student’s situation.

Don’t forget that the total cost of attendance is only for the academic year (September through June).  How you will cover costs incurred during the summer, whether it is through a paid internship, summer associate position, or otherwise, you will need to be sure to consider those costs as well.

Savings and Other Non-Loan Sources

Family members, friends, spouses, partners, student savings have all been great sources for students to limit the amount of loans they have to borrow.  We encourage students to explore alternate sources of funding if that is an option.

Limiting Other Expenses

Students should try to do as much as possible to limit other expenses such as credit card debt and car payments.  These costs just eat away a student’s budget during the academic year.  The more a student can pay off their consumer debt before law school, the better they will be.

Also, getting to know your credit score and reviewing your credit reports before law school will help prevent any problems that may arise when borrowing student loans.  Just click on the Resources tab for a listing of the different credit report agencies.

Understanding the Importance of Good Credit

Eligibility for the Graduate PLUS loan requires credit worthiness. A credit check will take place when you are awarded a GPLUS. We encourage you to check your credit report before you apply to law school as it may take several weeks or months to resolve an adverse history. We also recommend that you continue to monitor your credit throughout the admissions cycle and throughout your law school career to insure that you maintain eligibility.

Here are some links to the credit reporting agencies:

Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.

Learning to Budget

Creating a budget and sticking to one is one of the least favorite things any student wants to do, yet it is arguably one of the most important steps.  Itemizing how much rent, food, electricity, phone, water, gas, entertainment, and other living expenses will help keep you on track month-to-month.  Because your financial aid is only disbursed once at the very beginning of the quarter, you will need to stick to your budget so that at the end of the quarter you can avoid being short of funds at the end of each quarter.

One of the most useful tools for students is free web-based budgeting sites that allow you to create budgets and track spending.  These include: www.mint.com or www.budgettracker.com among other websites and services that are available.  Do your research and see which one best suits you.

Other Sources for Scholarships

Though we receive a large portion of scholarship information, post them on our website, and communicate them to students, we don’t always receive all scholarship notices.  We encourage students to look to their local bar associations, corporations, neighborhood and community organizations, and other sources for possible scholarships.

Current Students

Planning ahead and making informed financial choices can make a difference before, during, and after law school.  Following are some helpful tips for current students.

Double Check Your Financial Aid Award

Your financial aid award will be disbursed according to the University’s timetable for disbursement. You can find that information here.  When you receive your financial aid disbursement generally at the beginning of the quarter, you will want to double check that everything has disbursed—particularly those students who’ve received any scholarships and grants.

Additional Expenses during the Academic Year

Sometimes the cost of attendance and budget set by the University does not cover your individual financial situation.  In those cases, students can complete the necessary forms to request a revision for additional expenses or change in financial situation.  These costs may include:

  • Additional course fees
  • Books and supplies
  • Computer
  • Discover seminars
  • Cost of professional license
  • Student medical and/or dental expenses
  • Unusual transportation costs
  • Child care and dependent maintenance allowance

Certainly contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at osfa@uw.edu, 206.543.6101, or Schmitz Hall 129 with any questions to these forms as OSFA counselors will be able to walk you through this process.

Budgeting

Because budgeting is so important, we’ll emphasize it again here and just make a few more reminders. Don’t forget that the student budget only covers the academic year and does not include the summer term—so plan accordingly!  Are you planning to take summer courses or receive externship credit and thus need federal financial aid? Are you applying for a summer grant through PILA or another entity? Don’t wait to the very last minute!

Apply for Scholarships

Throughout the year we receive a large portion of scholarship information and post them on our website, and communicate them through the Docket, and sometimes personally notify students of specific opportunities.  We encourage students to apply to as many scholarships they believe they may qualify. Each year, funding gets left unused because of the lack of qualified applicants.

Emergency Short-Term Loans

Sometimes costs and expenses occur that are unexpected and unavoidable, or you may endure temporary cash flow problems.  OSFA has funds available through the Short-Term Loan Program.  Funds are generally available within 1-4 business days and are available only to students who are current attending the University, i.e., loans cannot be processed between quarters.  Repayment is due by the next quarter, or whenever additional funds arrive on the student's account, whichever is first.  Students may apply in their MyUW account.  For more details about eligibility and terms and conditions, please contact OSFA at osfa@uw.edu, 206.543.6101, or Schmitz Hall, room 129.

Graduating Students

Planning ahead and making informed financial choices can make a difference before, during, and after law school. Following are some helpful tips for graduating students.

Graduating Checklist

Cost of Professional License

The University may consider a one-time cost of obtaining a first professional license for a student who is enrolled in a program that requires such a license or certificate. Submit a Revision Request regarding Additional Expenses form for more details on the qualifications. Please note that bar prep classes do not qualify.

Bar Exam Loans

Please click on the tab above Bar Exam Loans for more specific information about bar exam loans.

We hope this information provides you with some guidance. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us at lawadm@uw.edu with specific questions.

Last updated 12/12/2014