For most law students, federal government and private educational loans are the bulk of their financial aid.
Federal Loan Programs
Federal loan programs are available to all citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are in good academic standing. The awards go to the applicants who show the greatest need. Foreign students are not eligible for federal loan programs.
William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
USF makes available federal loans to its law students through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. All first time William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan borrowers at USF must submit a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete an online Debt Management Counseling Session. You only need to submit a MPN and complete the Debt Management Counseling Session once during your attendance at the USF School of Law.
Graduate aid applicants may be eligible to apply for an unsubsidized direct loan. Terms and conditions include a current interest rate of 5.41 percent which begins to accrue at time of disbursement. Payments of this loan is deferred while a student is in school enrolled at least half-time. This loan has a repayment grace period of 6 months that begins after a student graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment. Payment of interest may be deferred until repayment begins. Unpaid interest will be added to the principle borrowed and increase the amount on which future interest is calculated when repayment begins.
The annual loan limit for graduate student borrowers for the unsubsidized William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is $20,500. The Department of Education charges the borrower a loan origination fee of one percent (1.072%) of the principal amount of the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. If you accept the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and you have not previously signed a Direct Loan master promissory note, you will need to complete an on-line Master Promissory Note (MPN) at the Direct Loans web site https://studentloans.gov . Your on-line MPN will be available beginning early June and only if you have accepted the Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan at USF. Note: Master Promissory notes are only valid for up to 10 years since your first Direct Loan. New loan borrowers must also complete an on-line Debt Management Counseling session at https://studentloans.gov . You only need to complete these requirements once while in law school.
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS
Graduate and professional students will also be able to borrow from the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Program. The loan limit for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS is the borrower's cost of education less any other aid the borrower has accepted for the loan period. To be eligible, a student must be enrolled at least half-time, must apply first for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan by filing a current FAFSA application and must also complete and submit the Law Graduate Plus Loan Pre-Application form to the Law School Office of Financial Aid.
The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan features a fixed 6.41 percent interest rate, fixed monthly payments, a variety of payment plans beginning with a standard 10 year repayment, and the ability to consolidate PLUS with other federal student loans. The Department of Education charges the borrower a loan fee of 4.292 percent of the principal amount of each Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. The loans offered by Federal Direct Graduate PLUS are eligible for an automatic in-school deferment. This allows a borrower who is enrolled at least half-time to postpone payments until after the borrower graduates or drops below half-time status. PLUS Loans disbursed after July 1, 2008 have an automatic deferral of repayment for an additional 6 months after the borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.
Approval of a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is based on credit worthiness, and requires a separate promissory note than used for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, as well as completion of a Graduate PLUS online entrance counseling session. You only need to complete these requirements once while in law school. Graduate PLUS loan applications are processed by USF beginning in early June. Approval notice is sent to students from the Direct Loan Servicing Center. Once approved, new PLUS loan borrowers must complete a separate Master Promissory Note for the PLUS loan at https://studentloans.gov and complete an on-line Debt Management Counseling Session at https://studentloans.gov.
Students can submit their Graduate PLUS loan applications beginning May 1 but no later than July 15 for the upcoming fall and spring semesters. Applying after this date may cause you to miss the August 1 fall tuition deadline and delay receiving funds for living expenses as well as possible cancellation of your class registration if tuition is not paid in full on August 1 by personal funds and/or anticipated approved financial aid funds.
A student with additional or unmet financial need who does not intend to borrow from the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program may want to consider applying for a private loan. These credit-based loans are funded through private companies and are available to law students who are enrolled on at least a half-time basis. The maximum loan amount cannot exceed the total "cost of education" minus other financial aid offered and accepted. A brief summary on some of the lenders our students have used in the past is provided below, however, we recommend students read their applications in their entirety before choosing/accepting a private loan. Students may select from any private lender and are not limited to the lenders listed below.
Please note that private loans are
not eligible for the any of the federal loan repayment programs nor would they be eligible for USF’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
When requesting your loan amount, please indicate the amount you need for the entire school year. Your total loan proceeds will be divided into two equal disbursements and will be available to you at the beginning of each semester. If applying only for the fall and spring terms, students should apply for a private loan after June 1 and not earlier. To apply for one of the following loans, contact the lender directly by phone or online. You will usually know if your loan is approved within a few minutes. After completion and approval of a private loan, sign and return the promissory note to the lender. Lenders will then notify the Law School Financial Aid Office of your approved loan and request USF to certify your loan. In order to assure your compliance with tuition deadlines and to have loan funds available to you once school starts in the fall semester, please have your private loan completed with your lender no later than July 15. Applying after this date may cause you to miss the August 1 fall tuition deadline and delay receiving funds for living expenses as well as possible cancellation of your class registration if tuition is not paid in full on August 1 by personal funds and/or anticipated approved financial aid funds. Examples of private loan programs used by law students in previous years.
- Sallie Mae: Borrow up to the full cost of your education with Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Loan for graduate law students. The Smart Option loan has no fees and offers variable rates as low as LIBOR + 2.0% and fixed rates as low as 5.75%. Loans can be deferred while in school or you can save money and lower your interest rate by choosing a fixed or interest only repayment option. This credit-based loan is available to US Citizens or international students with a credit-worthy US co-signer. Check the information on Sallie Mae’s website for more details and all the additional money-saving options available on this loan at www.salliemae.com/law.
- Discover Student Loans: Discover
offers no fee (including no late fees or returned payment fees), fixed and
variable Law and Bar loans. Variable interest rates are as low as Prime
plus 0.00%. Fixed interest rates are as low as 5.49%. Students
must be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident. International students may
apply with a US Citizen or Permanent Resident cosigner. The
aggregate limit is $180,000. You can apply online at http://discoverstudentloans.com/ or
by calling (877) 728-3030.
- Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo offers the Wells Fargo Graduate Loan, a private loan for graduate students in business or law school. This loan has a no fee loan option for students looking to supplement their federal student aid. Interest rates are variable based on credit. You can apply for this loan online at http://www.wellsfargo.com/student/school/graduate2 or you can call a loan specialist at (800) 378-5526.
Wells Fargo, Discover and Sallie Mae offer credit-based Bar Examination loans to help cover living expenses during the bar exam study period immediately after graduation. Depending on the loan program and your total debt, you may apply for up to $15,000. Depending on the lender, graduating law students can apply as early as one year before their graduation date and as late as one year after their graduation date. Once you have been approved for a bar loan and have accepted the loan, USF will be notified electronically of your approved loan. All approved Bar Exam loan applications must be certified by the Law School Financial Aid Administrator before the funds are made available to you. Bar loan funds are mailed directly to the graduating student by the loan vendor. International students may be eligible to apply, depending on the lender. Please contact the private educational loan vendors for applications and for more information. Or drop by the Law School Financial Aid Office to pick up a bar loan brochure.