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
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 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.
Estimate of Expenses for First Year JD Students
Estimate of expenses for 2016-2017 for 1L students in the JD Program
|Estimated Other Budgeted Expenses*|
|Books and supplies||$825|
|Room and board||$14,625|
|Estimated Total Cost of Attendance for JD Students*|
*These figures are subject to change. For a detailed explanation of tuition and fees, please visit: opb.washington.edu/content/tuition-and-required-fees.
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:
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.
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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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 email@example.com, 206.543.6101, or Schmitz Hall, room 129.
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.
☐ Apply to graduate through your MyUW
- ☐ Complete the student loan exit counseling through the National Student Loan Data System
- ☐ Prepare yourself for loan repayment through AccessGroup
- ☐ Update your addresses for all of the following:
- ☐ Meet with your 3L career coach
- ☐ Complete the Graduation Exit Survey through Student & Career Services
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
Students who need additional financial resources to pay for their bar preparation studies and living expenses may consider taking out a bar exam loan. These loans are largely through private lenders and your eligibility will depend on your credit worthiness. Though the loans are not part of your annual cost of attendance, the University will certify your application and enrollment at the law school.
Discover, Wells Fargo, and Sallie Mae are some of the private lenders that offer bar exam loans. Because each lender has different eligibility requirements and loan conditions, we strongly encourage you to research thoroughly your options before deciding on a lender. Factors to consider include: borrowing maximum, origination fees, grace period (6 months or 9 months from the date of graduation), interest rate, and repayment incentives. UW Law does not endorse any particular lender.
For additional information on loan repayment, click here.
- University of Washington
- Office of Student Financial Aid - for questions regarding federal student aid including loans, work study eligibility, FAFSA processing, short-term loans, and requests to revise student budgets
- Student Fiscal Services - for questions regarding tuition payments and financial aid disbursements
- Veterans Center - for questions regarding VA Chapter benefits, tuition waivers, and other eligible programs
- Access Group - A great resource for law school budgeting, paying for law school, and repaying your loans
- Federal Student Aid - A another great resource for financing legal education that directly connects to your federal account
- Equal Justice Works - A great tool for students interested in public interest law and legislative matters regarding financial aid policies and initiatives