Loans from government and private sources at low and moderate interest rates are available to qualified students. Both federal and private loans are based on the university’s estimate of your need and the overall cost of attendance. Typically, the lower interest rates are associated with federal loans; private loans can have higher (and often variable) rates. The NDLS Loan Repayment Assistance Program can also be a powerful tool to help you manage repayment of your educational debt.
Student Loan Calculator
This student loan calculator from AccessLex Institute provides a clear understanding of the costs of a legal degree, as well as available federal student loan repayment options.
The amount you may borrow is normally the difference between total estimated cost of attendance and any scholarships awarded. This figure is the maximum loan amount the university will approve for a qualified student borrower through a combination of federal student loan programs. A student receiving no scholarship can borrow up to the full amount of the estimated cost of attendance, and a student receiving a scholarship can borrow up to the amount of the estimated cost minus any scholarships awarded.
Again, this is the maximum amount a student may borrow, not necessarily the amount a student actually needs. Many students live well beneath the maximum amount the budget allows, particularly with the low cost of living in South Bend. Use our Budgeting and Smart Borrowing Tips information on our Cost of Attendance page to identify ways you can save and reduce how much you borrow.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Applicants interested in applying for federal student loans must complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA is available October 1, and those who apply by February 28 receive priority processing and aid consideration. When completing the FAFSA, you will need to list Notre Dame’s Federal School Code: 001840.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Program
The terms of the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Program require that the student borrower repay, with interest, the loan. This program is referred to as “unsubsidized” because interest accrues (accumulates) while the student is enrolled in school. Interest on Unsubsidized Direct Loans begins to accrue after disbursement of the loan funds; however, the student may choose to have the payment of the interest deferred during enrollment and later added to principal (capitalized) at the time of repayment.
The annual borrowing limit is $20,500. The interest rate updates annually. For 2016-17, it is 5.31 percent. The maximum aggregate that a student may borrow during their educational career is $138,500.
For more information visit Federal Student Aid Unsubsidized Loans.
Federal Direct PLUS Loans
The Federal Direct PLUS Loan provides a borrowing option for law students. Based upon completion of the FAFSA and the borrower’s credit history, a graduate/professional student may borrow through this federally guaranteed, non-need-based loan program. Students must complete the FAFSA and receive a determination of Federal Direct Loan eligibility by the Office of Financial Aid before applying for a PLUS loan.
Eligible law students may borrow up to the cost of attendance less any other financial assistance. The Grad PLUS loan interest rate updates annually. For 2016-17, it is 6.31 percent.
For more information visit Federal Student Aid Direct Plus Loans.
Counseling for Understanding Student Loans
Students who borrow federal loans must complete entrance and exit loan counseling with the University. This counseling informs students of their rights and responsibilities about borrowing under various loan programs. All first-time borrowers at Notre Dame Law School who are utilizing any type of federal loan must complete Online Federal Stafford/Graduate PLUS Loan Entrance Counseling. will help you gain awareness of what student loans are available and what borrowing means both now and for the future.
As your time in law school nears completion and the due date of the first payment on your student loans approaches, federal regulations require students to complete Exit Counseling. It is important to know who owns your loans, when your payments are due, how to make payments, and your total amount of indebtedness, all of which will help you maintain a good credit history.
Students may also consider private loan programs, such programs typically have significantly higher interest rates and should only be considered after exploring all of the federally funded loan options. The terms and conditions of these programs vary, so students should carefully review the details of each before selecting a private loan program.
Before you apply for a private loan
If you expect to rely on a private loan, we strongly encourage you to refer to the credit section below.
Important Note: Private loans are not eligible for loan consolidation programs such as the Direct Consolidation Loan made available for federal student loans. Interest rates, fees (both at the time of borrowing and at repayment), credit checks, and annual and aggregate loan limits require careful evaluation by the student as a consumer.
Additional Loan Information and Guidance
If you plan to borrow from a private loan, you should obtain a copy of your credit report as soon as possible. This will enable you to identify and correct any inaccuracies or potential problems you may have in qualifying for the best rates possible. Credit reports may be obtained from any of the following credit bureaus:
Experian : (800) 682-7654
TransUnion: (800) 916-8800
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
You may also request a free credit report each year from annualcreditreport.com.
For all loans be mindful of your credit history because creditors will use this information to determine whether they will extend credit (and how much) to you based on your willingness and ability to repay the loan.
Credit cards (including timely bill payment, number of credit cards, total credit limit, and amount owed on accounts), consumer loans (such as an automobile or smartphone), and prior student loans may affect what you can borrow. Having multiple student loans and/or a large amount of education debt does not necessarily mean you will have a poor credit score, as lenders often look at how you have managed debt in the past.
These resources will help you review your credit and debt management:
- Federal Trade Commission
- Annual Credit Report
- Card Flash
Bar Study Loans
Many students apply for loans for expenses you will incur when applying to and studying for the bar exam.
Some bar loan providers are:
Loan Repayment Options
As a law student, you have many repayment options and the U.S. Department of Education and other groups have information on plans, servicers, loan consolidation, and loan-forgiveness programs, including:
- Understanding Repayment Plans
- Understanding Loan Servicers
- Understanding Loan Consolidation
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- FedLoan Repayment Plans
- Repayment Estimator
Important Note: These are the current programs and may be altered by Congress.
Various tax credits and deductions for student loans are available to students and their parents.
If you have questions about educational tax benefits you should visit:
Additional Loan Guidance