Law School Financial Guide
The Office of Financial Aid is here to help you explore your funding options. Questions? Contact John Garcia, Director of Financial Aid, at 517-432-6810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Developing Financial Strategies
- Budgeting for Your MSU Legal Education
- Applying for Loan Assistance and Other Forms of Aid
- Monitoring Your Financial Aid
- Receiving Your Aid
- Borrowing Wisely
Learn About Loans. Loans are a key part of most students’ financial plans for law school. Review the Law College’s Statement on Educational Debt when considering how much to borrow for your legal education. The amount of funds you borrow for law school should be guided by expectations you have regarding future earnings, current and anticipated educational debt, and your post-graduation financial goals.
Get Specific. Use online tools to familiarize yourself with the terms of loan repayment. The Salary and Debt Calculator will help you get an idea of monthly repayment options and loan duration. Make sure to calculate repayment with multiple hypothetical incomes ($40,000, $60,000, and $80,000 provide a solid starting point).
Think Thrifty. Having roommates can help you to save up to $10,000 over the course of your three years at the Law College, which will save you as much as $100 per month during a ten-year repayment period. Using East Lansing’s safe and efficient public transit system is another great way to save money.
Summer Reading. Law school is a significant financial investment. The Office of Financial Aid recommends that you prepare by about personal finance:
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez
The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman
Meet with an Expert. If you already have significant educational debt and you expect to rely heavily on loans to finance law school, we strongly encourage you to schedule a one-on-one meeting with the Director of Financial Aid.
The cost of your MSU legal education consists of direct costs (tuition and fees) and various indirect costs (housing, food, transportation, etc.). The College of Law expects that most students’ indirect costs will be within the “Thrifty Budget,” which assumes that students have chosen to have roommates and have taken other steps to minimize living expenses. Incoming students whose indirect costs are higher can request the “Standard Budget.”
Develop a one-year budget.
The Budget Worksheet can help you to create an annual budget, and the Office of Admissions provides assistance in finding a roommate. If you find that your projected living expenses are beyond those allowed by the Thrifty Budget, contact Mr. Garcia to discuss options.
Develop a three-year budget.
Identify the various forms of aid available to meet the costs of your legal education: savings, family resources, scholarships, loan assistance, and projected earnings from employment. Developing a three-year budget will help ensure that you have a good estimate of the total amount of debt that you will incur during law school.
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), listing MSU College of Law ( Federal School Code: G02254). You do not need to report parental information. You can use estimated information when you complete the FAFSA, but be sure to update the FAFSA once you have filed your federal tax return.
Explore external scholarship and grant aid.
If you plan to pursue a GradPLUS or private loan, review your credit for free to ensure your credit is as polished and accurate as possible before you apply for loans.
Establish your MSU online account promptly so that you can monitor your aid. The Financial Aid Office notifies students about their financial aid awards via an email to your MSU account. The office determines eligibility for Stafford and GradPLUS loans, as well as private loans.
In mid-March, you can log into STUINFO, MSU’s system for financial aid, grades, account balances and bills. You can complete all federal student loan requirements online. If the Financial Aid Office requests additional documentation from you, respond promptly! We may ask for a federal tax transcript or a copy of your Social Security card.
Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). It’s quick and easy. Stafford and GradPLUS loans require separate promissory notes. All students who complete the FAFSA are required to complete online entrance counseling, even if you've received federal loans in the past.
Funding from loans is disbursed at least one week before classes begin, and the Accounting Office refunds excess financial aid during the first full week of classes. Enroll in Direct Deposit (PDF) for your financial aid refund.
Only accept funds that you need for school-related expenses. You can initially decline Stafford and GradPLUS loans and reinstate them during the academic year if you need additional funds. You can also borrow GradPLUS in place of private loans if you need additional loans assistance. GradPLUS loans have a fixed rate and are eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Remember to return Stafford/GradPLUS funds if you realize that you’ve borrowed too much. To return funds, email the Office of Financial Aid (email@example.com) and include your student number (PID).