Skip to Main Content

Best law school loans in September 2022

As of September 30, 2022
Bankrate logo Why you can trust Bankrate
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity, this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for how we make money.
|
Filters

Get student loan refinance offers

Answer a few questions in two minutes or less to see which student loans you pre-qualify for. It's free and will not impact your credit score.

INCOME BASED REPAYMENT

INCOME SHARE AGREEMENT

4.6

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.75- 13.72%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

Cost of attendance minus aid

Term: 10-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.7

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.75- 13.35%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.15- 14.75%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $400k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.5

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.22- 13.95%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

Income Based Repayment - No Cosigner Required

Get approved in minutes. Pre-qualify without affecting your credit score.

Apply on partner site

4.3

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.22- 12.78%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.0

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.99- 9.74%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

BEST WITH CO-SIGNER

4.4

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.24- 9.93%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.2

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.20- 11.99%

Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

Income Share Agreement

Income shares range start as low as 1% of income over a 5 year period.

Apply on partner site

4.5

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.89- 14.75%

Loan Amount

$3k- $20k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Secure a great loan in 3 easy steps

1

Answer a few questions

Take just two minutes to answer questions about yourself and the loan you need. This service is free, and it won't affect your credit score.
2

Compare your offers

Get prequalified and compare loan or other product offers based on the things that matter to you, like APR and monthly payments.
3

Lock in your rate

Choose a lender and visit its website to complete the application process. If you're approved, you could receive funding within a few weeks.

The Bankrate guide to choosing the best student loan for law school

Why trust Bankrate?

At Bankrate, our mission is to empower you to make smarter financial decisions. We’ve been comparing and surveying financial institutions for more than 40 years to help you find the right products for your situation. Our award-winning editorial team follows strict guidelines to ensure the content is not influenced by advertisers. Additionally, our content is thoroughly reported and vigorously edited to ensure accuracy.

When shopping for a law school loan, compare APRs across multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting a competitive interest rate. Also look for lenders that keep fees to a minimum and offer repayment terms that fit your needs. Loan details presented here are current as of June 23, 2022. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The law school lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and more. For more information on how we chose lenders, see our methodology section above.

The best law school student loans in September 2022

LENDER APR LOAN TERMS MIN. LOAN AMOUNT MAX. LOAN AMOUNT BEST FOR
Federal grad PLUS loan Fixed: 7.54% Standard repayment term is 10 years Not specified 100% cost of attendance Overall loans
SoFi Fixed: 4.50% – 12.70% (with autopay); Variable: 3.69% – 12.13% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $5,000 100% cost of attendance Overall private loans
Earnest Fixed: 3.99% – 11.98% (with autopay); Variable: 2.70% – 9.89% (with autopay) Not specified $1,000 100% cost of attendance Flexible repayment options
Sallie Mae Fixed: 4.25% – 12.85% (with autopay); Variable: 3.87% – 13.47% (with autopay) 15 years $1,000 100% total cost of attendance Part-time students
College Ave Fixed: 3.99% – 11.46% (with autopay); Variable: 2.49% - 10.45% (with autopay) 5 to 20 years $1,000 $150,000 Competitive rates
Citizens Bank Fixed: 5.20%–9.39%; Variable: 3.90%-9.30% 5 to 15 years $1,000 $225,000 Multiyear funding
Ascent Fixed: 3.89% – 14.75% (with autopay); Variable: 2.52% – 12.87% (with autopay) 7 to 15 years $2,001 $200,000 Loans with a long grace period
*See offer details in rate table above

Best overall

Federal Grad PLUS Loans

Federal Grad PLUS Loans

See offers Arrow Right

Check with studentaid.gov

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.73% –6.28%
Loan amount:
$0–$500,000
Term lengths:
10 to 10 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Federal Direct grad PLUS loans offer loans up to the entire cost of attendance (minus any aid you receive) and a variety of generous repayment options.
Why federal grad PLUS loans are best overall: Borrowers should evaluate their federal student loan options before turning to private lenders, since these loans offer benefits like alternative repayment plans, extensive deferment and forbearance and the possibility of loan forgiveness.

Best overall private lender

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.75% –13.35%
Loan amount:
$5,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: SoFi offers competitive rates (both fixed and variable), no fees and myriad repayment options. The entire loan process happens online.
Why SoFi is the best overall private lender: With no fees, low rates and a plethora of member benefits, SoFi makes it easy for borrowers to get and repay law school loans.

Best for flexible repayment options

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.22% –12.78%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: Earnest is a private student loan lender offering flexible repayment options, no late fees and competitive rates.
Why Earnest is best for flexible repayment options: Earnest offers several ways to customize your repayment. Borrowers may postpone a payment once every 12 months and add that payment to the end of their repayment period, and they can choose to change their payment date or make payments biweekly.

Best for part-time students

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.75% –13.72%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
10 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Sallie Mae is one of the more well-known private student loan lenders that offers flexible repayment terms and minimal fees.
Why Sallie Mae is best for part-time students: Sallie Mae is unique in that it offers law school loans to students who are enrolled less than half time.

Best for competitive rates

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.22% –13.95%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: College Ave offers loans for U.S. residents and international students. You can check your rate without impacting your credit, and a co-signer release is available to qualifying borrowers.
Why College Ave is best for competitive rates: College Ave offers extremely low rates, plus an autopay discount, so it's a good choice for borrowers with good or excellent credit.

Best for multiyear funding

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
4.24% –9.93%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$12,000
Overview: Citizens Bank offers student loans through a completely online application process. Existing Citizens Bank customers may be rewarded with a rate discount.
Why Citizens Bank is best for multiyear funding: Borrowers who choose Citizens Bank may apply for its multiyear loan program, where borrowers are approved for several years of funding and do not have to go through a hard credit check each year.

Best for loans with a long grace period

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.89% –14.75%
Loan amount:
$3,000–$20,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Ascent is an online lender that offers competitive rates and puts financial literacy at the forefront. Its law school loans come with a variety of repayment terms and plenty of discount options.
Why Ascent is best for a long grace period: Ascent offers a longer in-school period and a longer grace period than most other lenders. For law school loans, borrowers may defer payments for 36 months of enrollment, and once enrollment ends they may defer payments for another nine months.

What is a law school loan?

Law school loans are a type of graduate student loan designed for students pursuing a JD. There are federal and private loan options, both offering varying APRs and terms. Loan proceeds are to be used for tuition or related law school expenses, and many loans can be taken out with or without a co-signer.

How do law school loans work?

When you accept a law school loan, your lender will send the funds to your school and you'll begin payments. Typically you have the option to defer principal payments until after graduation (or after the agreed-upon grace period). Interest will accrue during this period and will be added to your loan balance at the end of the grace period unless you choose to make interest-only payments while in school. Once you have graduated and you reach the end of your grace period, you'll begin making payments on both the principal and interest.

Law school loans may offer you the choice of fixed or variable interest rates. If you choose a fixed rate, your interest rate (and monthly payment) will be the same throughout your repayment period. If you choose a variable rate, the amount of interest you pay could change month to month based on market trends.

Best ways to pay for law school

There are many ways to finance law school — some of which you have to pay back and some of which are "free" money. Here are a few of the best ways to pay for law school:

  • Federal and state grants: The federal government, many states and some organizations have their own opportunities for grants that do not need to be repaid.
  • Scholarships: Like grants, scholarships do not need to be repaid. Some scholarships are based on financial need, while others are merit-based.
  • Personal savings: Some students may find it most convenient to pay for law school with their own savings. If you can, keep any funds designated for law school in a high-yield savings account before you need to withdraw them.
  • Law school loan: With high loan amounts and flexible repayment periods, law school loans allow you to pay off your degree over time, rather than upfront. Only take out loans once you've exhausted free aid opportunities.

Which type of law school loan is best for you?

There are two broad categories of law school loans: federal loans and private loans. The right choice for you depends on the rate you qualify for and any extra perks you want to pursue.

Federal student loans

Federal student loans are a popular option, since they come with a fixed interest rate and benefits like loan forgiveness programs. Federal student loans include Direct Unsubsidized Loans and grad PLUS loans. Unsubsidized loans tend to have lower fees and rates, although loan limits aren’t as high as those of grad PLUS loans. These loans may be a good option for you if you don't have much credit history or if you have poor credit, since your credit score won't factor into the interest rate you're offered.

What to know about the FAFSA

Applications for the 2023-24 FAFSA open on Oct.  1, 2022, and close on June 30, 2024. However, each institution and state has its own deadline, so make sure to check when yours is due. You can receive federal student loans through the FAFSA as long as you are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen — DACA students are not eligible at this time, though they can still fill out the FAFSA to be considered for state and institutional aid.

All graduate students are considered independent, so you won't need to provide any of your parents' details when filling out the form, only your own. Be prepared to share details about your income and assets. If you experience a major financial change after you've submitted, you may be able to correct your FAFSA later on.

Private student loans

Private student loan lenders typically offer high loan limits, and many companies brand their products specifically as law school loans. With these loans, you may be able to defer payments while you’re going through clerkship or fellowship in addition to while you're in school. However, private student loans lack some of the benefits of federal loans, such as loan forgiveness programs and forbearance options.

How to apply for a law school loan 

You'll apply for a law school loan in the same way that you'll apply for any other student loan. If you're applying for a federal loan to help with the cost of law school, you'll apply through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

If you're applying for a private student loan, you can typically do so on the lender's website. Lenders often provide prequalification, so you'll get an idea as to whether or not you meet the approval requirements before you submit a full application.

When applying for a law school loan, you'll need to provide details about your school, personal information like your Social Security number, proof of income, proof of employment and any relevant details about your co-signer, if applicable.

How to get a law school student loan with bad credit

Getting a law school student loan if you have bad credit is possible, but your options could be limited. Federal student loans are the best place to start. Direct Unsubsidized Loans don't do a credit check, and while grad PLUS loans do, there isn't a minimum credit score threshold you need to meet.

On the other hand, private lenders almost always have minimum credit score requirements, and the best rates go to borrowers with high credit scores. This means that if you do get approved, your rates may be higher. In other words, you’ll be paying more in interest throughout the life of your loan.

If you're having trouble getting approved or if you're seeing high rates, it may be worthwhile to use a co-signer. Co-signers are common for private student loans, since many students don't have enough credit history for a lender to determine their eligibility. On a co-signed loan, the lender takes into account the co-signer's credit profile, which can improve your chances of getting approved for a student loan with better rates and terms.

Frequently asked questions about law school loans