Financial Aid: An Introduction
Columbia Law School awards grant assistance primarily on the basis of demonstrated financial need. However, there are a number of fellowships that are not based on financial need -- these are awarded by the Admissions Office at the time an applicant is admitted to the Law School. In general, there is no separate application for these fellowships.
If you are interested in grant assistance, please be assured that Columbia Law School annually provides need-based funds towards reducing tuition costs for students. While each year a portion of the entering class receives a Law School grant, which is in the form of a partial tuition waiver, by far the largest form of financial aid for all law students is educational loans. Most students borrow from a variety of programs in order to finance part, or all, of their educational expenses. Even if you receive large tuition grants each year, you may not be able to avoid substantial debt before you graduate, especially if you enter law school with loans from your prior education.
You will be investing in your future, clearly the best investment you can make. However, the investment for law school will be considerable. For every $10,000 borrowed, a student can expect to pay approximately $125 each month in debt service after graduation. So we urge you to be as prudent as you can be in the amount of debt you assume: how much you borrow now may affect your future choices in career and lifestyle.
Some students are able to limit their annual borrowing to the $20,500 that the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program currently makes available to eligible U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens. However, increasingly more individuals also need to borrow from credit-based educational loan programs in order to meet the student budget. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that loan providers require borrowers to be credit-worthy before approving a loan.
If you have had problems with any creditors over late payments, disputed debts, or defaults of any kind, this is the time to resolve them so you may have access to important sources of loan funds. Students with an adverse credit history may not be able to secure the loans necessary to finance their education. If this is the case, you will need to have others co-sign or borrow on your behalf, or find other means to finance your education.
Please keep in mind that Law School funds will not be available to replace unavailable credit-based loans. We advise you to review carefully the section on Credit, and to obtain a copy of your credit report. There you can also find a list of major credit reporting agencies.
If you need further information after you review this site, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.
Reservation of University Rights
This publication is intended for the guidance of Columbia students and faculty. It sets forth in general the manner in which the University intends to proceed with respect to the matters set forth herein, but the University reserves the right to depart without notice from the terms of this publication. This publication is not intended to be, and should not be, regarded as a contract.