Law School Loans
The case for flexible loan payments
A flexible law school loan with a budget-based repayment plan is here. Check your eligibility in 2 minutes.
Find a low rate
Look for a low interest rate on your law school loan. It won’t make taking the BAR any easier, but it could save you big in the long run.
How to customize your loan
Apply online and upload all documents on your phone
Most approved borrowers hear back within 72-hours
Choose a payment plan or pay nothing while in school
Get the FAQs on law school loans
Can you get student loans for law school?
All law school students should first use the FAFSA to apply for federal financial aid. After maxing out Federal Direct unsubsidized loans, students can consider Federal Direct PLUS loans (which have a flat interest rate and a mandatory origination fee) and private loans (which typically have no fees, and rates that depend on your credit history).
What federal loan options should I consider before applying for a private student loan?
Before applying for private student loans, it’s best to look at other sources of financial aid first. It’s recommended that you use a 4-step approach to get the funds you need:
- Look for educational funding you don’t have to pay back, like scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities.
- Fill out a FAFSA® form to apply for federal student loans. Most federal student loans don’t require a credit check or a cosigner, and offer federal programs if you’re struggling with payments.
- Consider asking a parent to look at federal parent loans. The Parent PLUS loan is issued directly to parents or guardians of current students.
- Look at a private student loan to cover any differences between your total cost of attendance and the amount not included in steps 1-3.
The best private student loans should give you a low interest rate that will complement your federal financial aid. Keep in mind that you will accumulate interest on both federal student loans and private student loans over time.
How much can you take out in loans for law school?
Grad students (including those working on a law degree) are eligible to take out up to $20,500 in Federal Direct unsubsidized loans each year. Federal Direct PLUS loans and private student loans do not have a cap.
What is the difference between Federal Direct PLUS loans and private student loans?
Federal Direct PLUS loans are offered by the government, while private loans are offered by private lenders. Federal PLUS loans are available through the FAFSA, and good credit history is not a qualification requirement. However, Federal PLUS loans do have a mandatory loan origination fee and a flat interest rate. Private student loans typically have no loan fees, and your interest rate depends on your credit profile or that of your cosigner, if you have one.
Who is eligible for Earnest Private Student Loans?
Eligible students must be:
- Attending, or enrolled to attend, full-time at an eligible 4-year Title IV institutions
- You live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV)
- The age of majority in their state of residence
- A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident or have a cosigner who is a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
View full eligibility details on our Eligibility page.
If you meet all of Earnest’s eligibility criteria, you may be approved for a loan as a solo applicant—but applying with a cosigner who has good credit may increase your chances of approval. Many students find that they can get a lower interest rate if they apply with a cosigner.
If you are not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, you may only apply with a cosigner who is. Please keep in mind our eligibility criteria for student loan cosigners:
- A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
- 3+ years of good credit history
- A minimum credit score of 650
- No history of bankruptcy
- Minimum yearly income of $35,000 (in USD)
- Both primary and cosigner must live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV), but they do not need to both live in the same state.
If you apply with a cosigner and later would like to do a cosigner release, we regret to inform you that we do not offer this option at this time. However, you can apply to refinance your student loans in your own name without a cosigner upon graduation. You can find our refinancing eligibility requirements here.
What are the advantages of private student loans vs. federal student loans?
Federal student loans offer borrowers certain protections that private student loans may not, such as income-based repayment or student loan forgiveness.
Law school graduates may qualify for federal public service forgiveness programs if they meet the requirements. This is a program created by the government to help law students who choose to work outside of high-paying law firms, to help them pay off their student debt. Taking out a private student loan means you will not qualify for any federal programs, including this public service loan forgiveness program.
Remember that income-based repayment or loan forgiveness programs are benefits of federal student loans, but a private lender may also offer you other perks, such as flexible payment terms or a lower interest rate.
Federal student loans have borrowing limits (similar to limits on credit cards). If the cost of attendance exceeds the federal loan amount, that means you will need to cover the leftover cost. Graduate students may apply for no-cap Direct PLUS loans from the government, but undergraduate students do not have this option.
Cost of attendance
Many students choose to apply for a loan with a private lender to cover their leftover costs. Earnest private student loans, in addition to covering the entire cost of attendance, also have rates that are based on the credit profile of you and/or any cosigner you have. This may mean higher or lower rates than those offered by federal loans, depending on the credit profile.
Grace periods and origination fees
A private student loan may offer a longer deferment period or grace period than a federal student loan. Some private loans, such as Earnest private student loans, don’t have an origination fee while some federal student loans do.
Auto Pay benefits
With an Earnest private student loan, you get a 0.25% APR reduction when you agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment.
Before looking for loans with private financial institutions, such as online lenders, credit unions or banks, explore all of your student loan options with the federal government.
Does Earnest private student loans offer flexible repayment options?
First, we have a deferment period that’s 3 months longer than most other student loans. That means you don’t have to make student loan payments up to 9 months after you graduate. However, if you choose to make interest or principal balance payments while still in school, you will not be able to defer your loan payment after graduation. To learn more about Earnest student loan repayment terms, visit the Help Center.
With Earnest private student loans, you can choose from different repayment plans to pay off your student loan.
To make in-school payments more manageable, We allow students to make $25 automatic payments while they are in school. Other in-school repayment options include paying for the accrued interest, deferring payment for 9 months after graduation, or making the interest and principal payment on your loan.
Also, we do not have any prepayment penalties, late fees, or origination fees.
What kind of interest rates does Earnest private student loans charge?
There are two types of interest rates – fixed interest and variable interest. A fixed rate will not change and tends to be higher. A variable rate loan tends to offer lower interest rates, but that interest can fluctuate, making your monthly payments less predictable. Before taking out a private student loan, make sure to compare interest rates and read the fine print on all of your loan applications.
Earnest private student loans offer both fixed and variable interest rates. If you choose a fixed interest rate for your Earnest loan term, that means the interest will not change. If you have a variable interest rate, it may change over time. After you graduate and begin working, you may want to consider refinancing your loan for lower interest rates. You can learn more about student loan refinancing with Earnest here and about loan products from Earnest partners.