Estimated expenses (tuition, fees, room and board, books, transportation, and an allowance
for personal expenses) for a student enrolled in the School of Law for the 2015–2016
academic year are approximately $42,000 for a resident and $66,000 for a non-resident. See
Tuition and Fees for more details.
A variety of financing options are available to help students meet the cost of a legal education, including:
- scholarships awarded by the School of Law
- outside scholarships awarded by other organizations
- loan assistance through the Federal government or private lenders
- Federal Work-Study or outside employment (in the second and third years of law school)
How to Apply for Financial Aid
Prospective students applying for need-based scholarships and Federal or private loans must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Federal Code to designate the University of South Carolina as a recipient of your financial information is 003448. We advise applicants to complete the FAFSA early in the admissions season even if they have not yet received an admissions decision from the School of Law.
Types of Financial Aid
School of Law Scholarships
Through support from the University's Board of Trustees and the generosity of alumni and friends of the School of Law, merit scholarship funds are available to offer financial assistance to highly qualified applicants. Scholarships may range from a relatively small award to full tuition plus a stipend. Qualified non-resident students may receive a scholarship that includes a partial tuition waiver that reduces tuition significantly. We make a scholarship commitment to entering students that is maintained for all three years of law school; our scholarships are not conditional upon attaining a particular GPA or class rank.
Most scholarship awards are made in March of each year's admissions cycle. To receive priority consideration for a scholarship award, you are encouraged to complete your admissions application by March 1 and your FASFA no later than March 1.
Scholarships are also available from sources outside the law school, such as bar associations, churches, fraternal organizations, non-profit foundations, or your or your parents' employer. We encourage you to check with any membership organization with which you or your family may have a connection. An excellent web-based scholarship search engine is through FinAid, which charges no fee for its search service.
Federal education loans are the primary means of financing a legal education for most students. You can borrow loan funds to cover tuition and living expenses up to your cost of attendance, minus any scholarships received for the academic year. Federal education loans are guaranteed by the government, have interest rates fixed each year by Congress, offer flexible repayment terms tailored to your income after law school, and have loan forgiveness provisions depending on your choice of legal employment. Federal loans are borrowed directly from the Federal government through the U.S. Department of Education. Eligibility for Federal loans is determined by the information you provide in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are two Federal loan programs: the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Direct GradPLUS loan. The following requirements apply to both loan programs:
A borrower must:
- be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible degree program;
- be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible non-citizen (for the definition of an eligible non-citizen, see the FAFSA website);
- be registered with the Selective Service, if required;
- not be currently in default on a Federal education loan;
- not have eligibility suspended because of a drug conviction; and
- attain satisfactory academic progress (for the definition of satisfactory academic progress, see the Federal Student Aid website) by the end of each academic year.
You can borrow $20,500 per year in a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. The interest rate is set by the Federal government each year; for loans issued between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the interest rate will be 5.84% for the life of the loan. Interest is charged from the date the loan is disbursed to your student account. You may pay interest that accrues while in school or defer payment of interest; if you choose to defer interest, it is added to the principal and future interest will accrue on the higher balance. For that reason, you will save a substantial amount if you are able to pay the interest while in school.
There is a 1.073% origination fee charged by the U.S. Department of Education on all Direct Loans, which is deducted before disbursement. Loan proceeds will be disbursed in two installments at the beginning of each semester. There is a six-month grace period from the date you graduate or withdraw, and repayment begins at the end of the grace period.
You can borrow up to your remaining cost of education with a Direct GradPLUS Loan. The GradPLUS loan is credit-based and so has additional borrowing criteria set by the Federal government. A GradPLUS borrower must not have:
- a discharge in bankruptcy, repossession, wage garnishment, tax lien, foreclosure, or have executed a deed in lieu of foreclosure within the last five years;
- any unpaid accounts in collection;
- any accounts currently 90 days or more delinquent;
- any written-off Federal student loans;
- defaulted on a loan, even if the claim has been paid, or a lease or contract terminated by default.
Credit approval is valid for 180 days, and there will be a new check each time you borrow a new loan. We strongly advise prospective students who are concerned about their credit history to obtain a credit report before applying. You may be required to have a creditworthy co-signer or to correct any erroneous information on your credit report before you will be approved to borrow a GradPLUS loan.
The interest rate for a GradPLUS loan will be 6.84% for loans issued between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Interest is charged from the date the loan is disbursed to your student account. You may pay interest that accrues while in school or defer payment of interest; if you choose to defer interest, it is added to the principal and future interest will accrue on the higher balance. For that reason, you will save a substantial amount if you are able to pay the interest while in school.
There is a 4.292% origination fee charged by the U.S. Department of Education on all Direct Loans, which is deducted before disbursement. Loan proceeds will be disbursed in two installments at the beginning of each semester. There is no grace period; your repayment obligation will begin 30–60 days after graduation or withdrawal, unless you request a forbearance.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans and GradPLUS loans can be consolidated after graduation for participation in one of the income-based repayment programs or for public service loan forgiveness. There are several different options for income-based repayment; a good source of information about the programs can be found on the website of The Access Group, a not-for-profit borrower education organization comprised of 199 nonprofit and state-affiliated ABA-approved law schools.
In addition to the Federal education loans, there are private education loans available through lending institutions such as Discover, Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo, PNC Bank, and others. These loans are not guaranteed by the federal government, and interest rates and repayment terms are set by the lending institution and will depend on your creditworthiness. Just as with the federal loans, private loans require that the school certify your cost of attendance and academic eligibility as an enrolling or continuing student. Because rates, terms, and repayment options are not governed by federal regulation, you are encouraged to review all terms carefully. Please be aware that private loans are not eligible for consolidation with federal loans for income-based repayment or public service loan forgiveness. To borrow private loan funds, apply directly with the lender of your choice.