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How Law School Financial Aid Works

Financial Aid for Law School: The Lowdown
Start your hunt for financial aid even before you get accepted.
Start your hunt for financial aid even before you get accepted.
Jim Arbogast/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Most people can safely assume three years spent at law school is going to mean they'll be departing with some level of loan debt, but there are a number of approaches to help bring down the eventual balance. Scholarships, grants, fellowships and work study programs are sometimes options, and they can be both need-based and merit-based.

It's a good idea to make a solid effort to see what's out there; at this point, every dollar counts. Some companies also offer tuition reimbursements, so if you think you can handle working a job with sweet benefits while attending law school at the same time, that could be a possible source of funding.

To get things rolling, file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form as soon after the first of the year as possible, and start to follow up on all the potential leads for financial aid you've uncovered at this point. There's one important thing to note about FAFSA before we move on: While attending undergraduate school, most students must include their parents' financial information on the FAFSA form because it's a deciding factor in determining how much financial aid they're eligible for. Although law students are considered independent from their parents, they may still need to provide that information for the school to evaluate and decide on the details of their entire financial aid package.

Once you receive your acceptance letters and decide which school you're going to attend, the ball really starts rolling. Find out what to expect on the next page.