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Future law students weigh in on financial plans

Thursday, March 19, 2015
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Future law students weigh in on financial plans
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Money is often a major consideration to make before deciding to pursue grad school. While those with an advanced degree are likely to earn more in their careers, the initial expense of tuition and fees could be overwhelming without the right resources. There are scholarships, grants and loans available to students in need of financial aid. However, according to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey, those aren't the only ways students are planning to pay for their education.

"68% of students plan to rely on the financial help of a parent."

Parental guidance
The survey included more than 900 prospective law students from schools throughout the U.S. Of those students, 68 percent plan to rely on the help of a parent or guardian for at least some of their tuition. The percentage of those who plan to seek assistance from loved ones other than their parents is much lower — only 9 percent plan on receiving financial help from other family members, and only 6 percent expect assistance from their significant other.

While it's convenient to rely on support from family and spouses, there are many options available for financial aid. The survey found that a large number of students — 78 percent — plan on paying for the majority of their schooling with loans. Still, interest rates have others turning to merit-based and need-based scholarships — 61 and 42 percent, respectively. Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep, shared some cautionary advice for those expecting to pay for school predominantly with loans and grants.

"All too often the first move of matriculated law school students is to try to secure loans, which are often accompanied by burdensome interest rates that will challenge them for years to come as they begin their careers," he said. "Our advice is to actively seek other options first including scholarships, both needs-based and merit-based. We also advise students that as soon as they know they plan to attend law school, start putting some money aside, if possible."

Start applying for financial aid early on.Start applying for financial aid early on.

Securing aid
Debt.com explained that students can follow the same process of securing financial aid in grad school as they did while preparing for undergrad. However, the tuition and fees are typically close to double for grad school, meaning you'll likely need more grants and loans - as well as more time spent searching for them. Start as early as possible and scour the Internet for applicable scholarships, and devote some time each week to writing essays and applying for them.

The source also noted that, when it comes to law school specifically, the American Bar Association could be a great resource. It gives out 20 scholarships each year, at $5,000 each. Check early to see if you qualify. Aside from ABA, your school of choice is another helpful source of assistance. Speak with their financial aid office to see just how much you're able to receive.

By Monique Smith

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