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FAFSA for Law School: What You Need To Know

October 16, 2023
6 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 10/16/23

Interested in learning about FAFSA for law school? Read on to uncover essential ways to secure financial support for your legal education.

Female student counting cash on notebook

Are you considering getting a law degree but concerned about the daunting law school costs? The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your gateway to financial support that can help alleviate the financial burden of law school.

This guide will break down the FAFSA process, outline eligibility criteria, required documents, and key strategies you can use to optimize your aid package. Let’s get started! 

How to Fill Out FAFSA for Law School

Here’s how to fill out the FAFSA application step-by-step.

Step 1: Gather Required Documents

Before you start, gather the necessary documents and information. Having these documents ready in advance will streamline the FAFSA application process and ensure that you have all the necessary information at your fingertips. We’ll provide a detailed list a bit later on.

Step 2: Create an FSA ID

If you haven't already, create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID for yourself and your parent(s), if applicable. This ID serves as your electronic signature and allows you to access and sign your FAFSA online.

Step 3: Choose the Correct FAFSA Form

Source: Federal Student Aid

Different FAFSA forms exist for different academic years. Ensure you're completing the form for the upcoming law school year. The 2023-2024 will be opened from October 1. It is best to start filling out the form immediately after it opens, even if your state and school deadline is still far away. 

When you’re done, create a save key. A save key is a temporary password that allows you and your parent(s) to “pass” the FAFSA form back and forth.

Step 4: Start the Application

Start the FAFSA application online. Provide your personal information, including your name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and contact details. Make sure the information matches official records.

Step 5: Add School Choices

List up to 10 of the law schools to receive your FAFSA information. This step is essential as schools use this information to determine your eligibility for financial aid.

Step 6: Dependency and Financial Status

Source: Federal Student Aid

The next step requires you to determine your dependency status and provide your parents’ financial information. If you’re an independent student, you’ll need to enter your own financial information—make sure it’s consistent with the information that’s been reported for your federal income tax returns.

You’ll also need to indicate the number of people in your household who are financially dependent on either yourself or your parents. 

Step 7: Sign and Submit

Before you submit your FAFSA application, make sure to review the information you’ve reported. If you provided your parents’ income in the last step, both you and your parents will need to sign the FAFSA application using your FSA IDs. 

About a week after submission, you'll receive a confirmation email and a Student Aid Report (SAR). Law schools will receive your FAFSA information and create financial aid packages accordingly. Be prepared to provide any additional documentation that schools may request.

Source: Federal Student Aid

Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible to maximize your chances of receiving financial aid. Also, keep track of federal and law school-specific financial aid application deadlines.

Requirements for Law School FAFSA

To be eligible for FAFSA, you must be either a US citizen or an eligible noncitizen. Eligible noncitizens include permanent residents, refugees, and individuals with asylum or humanitarian parole. While federal aid eligibility is not based on state residency, some state-based aid programs may have residency requirements.

After being eligible, the following documents and information are required:

  1. Social Security Number (SSN) or Alien Registration Number: When completing the FAFSA, you must provide a valid SSN. You'll need your Alien Registration Number if you are not a US citizen but are an eligible noncitizen.
  2. Federal Income Tax Returns: FAFSA requires information from your or your parent's federal income tax returns. You'll need your parents' tax information if you're a dependent student. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you to import tax information from the IRS to your FAFSA directly.
  3. W-2 Forms and Records of Other Income: You'll need to report income earned from work on the FAFSA, which includes W-2 forms and any other records of income earned.
  4. Personal Identification Information: Includes your full name, date of birth, and contact information. Make sure this information matches official records.
  5. List of Schools: You can choose up to 10 schools to receive your FAFSA information.
  6. Dependency Status Information: Dependent students need information about their parents' education levels, marital status, and household size.
  7. Assets Information: You must report assets such as savings, investments, and real estate (excluding the family's primary residence).
  8. Selective Service Registration: Male students aged 18 to 25 must register with the Selective Service to receive federal aid. Registration can be done on the FAFSA form.
  9. High School Completion Status: You'll need to indicate your high school completion status and provide information about the high school you attended.

Having this information and documentation is crucial before starting the FAFSA application. This will ensure a smoother and more accurate completion process. 

Remember that some law schools may also have their own institutional aid applications or additional requirements. Always check with the individual schools for any specific documentation they might need.

Calculator with cash and coins

Tips to Get Financial Aid for Law Schools

Here are some valuable tips to help you secure financial aid for law school:

Start Early

To set the stage for success, start early. As you embark on your law school application process, take the time to explore the financial aid options offered by the institutions you're applying to. Most law schools extend a wide array of financial aid opportunities, ranging from scholarships and grants to work-study programs and loans.

Check With the Law School

It's important to establish direct communication with the financial aid office at the law schools you're considering. They can provide you with detailed information regarding the various types of aid available, application deadlines, and the necessary documentation required for a seamless application process.

Consider Other Financial Aid Options

FAFSA is a crucial tool for financing legal education, as it opens doors to various financial aid options. Here are some financial aid options you should consider:

Federal Grants

FAFSA makes you eligible for federal grants like the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). These grants provide financial assistance that doesn't need to be repaid, giving you a valuable head start in financing your legal studies.


Many law schools use the information provided through FAFSA to assess your eligibility for institutional scholarships. These scholarships can be merit-based, need-based, or a combination of both. By completing FAFSA, you increase your chances of accessing these scholarships, which can significantly reduce your tuition expenses.

Work-Study Programs

FAFSA also helps you qualify for Federal Work-Study (FWS) programs. Through FWS, you can secure part-time employment on campus or with approved off-campus employers. This provides you with a source of income and allows you to gain valuable work experience while studying.


While loans are a form of borrowed funds, FAFSA allows you to access federal student loans with favorable interest rates and flexible repayment options. Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans are some loan options available through FAFSA. 

These loans can bridge the gap between your educational expenses and available grants and scholarships. It's essential to consider your options by first exploring grants that offer non-repayable assistance, often based on financial need. Be sure to check your eligibility for federal, state, and law school-specific grants. 

Build a Strong Academic Profile & Competitive Application

To enhance your chances of securing scholarships and financial aid for your legal education, it's vital to focus on your academic profile and application. 

First, make sure to meet or exceed the specified GPA or class ranking requirements for your target scholarships. Strive for academic excellence, especially in relevant subjects. High grades not only show your commitment but also make your application more appealing.

Crafting a sincere and engaging personal statement is also key to developing a competitive application. Highlight your aspirations, achievements, and, if applicable, your financial situation. Be authentic and avoid exaggerations. Thoroughly proofread your statement, and seek feedback from mentors or advisors to create a compelling application. 

By combining a strong academic record with a well-crafted personal statement, you increase your chances of securing financial assistance for your legal education, demonstrating your dedication to your academic and career goals.

Show Financial Need

Certain scholarships and grants are awarded based on financial need. It's crucial to be transparent and honest when sharing your financial information on your applications. 

Accurate disclosure ensures that your need is genuinely conveyed to scholarship committees and aid providers, increasing your eligibility for need-based financial support.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate

When you receive multiple financial aid offers from law schools, don't hesitate to consider negotiation. Express your commitment to attending a particular school and inquire whether there is the potential for additional financial assistance. 

Negotiating can often lead to improved aid packages that better align with your needs and circumstances, making your legal education more financially feasible.

Consider Assistantship and Fellowship

Some law schools provide teaching or research assistantships that can cover your tuition and potentially include a stipend. It's worth considering fellowship programs that offer financial support in exchange for work or research contributions. These opportunities can significantly ease the financial burden of your legal education.

Try Part-Time or Online Programs

Part-time or online programs allow students to work while studying. This can ultimately reduce the need for loans. Consider this option if this path aligns with your goal or plan.

With these steps and exploration of several financial aid avenues, you can make your law school education more affordable and attain your career goals with a solid financial foundation.

FAQs: FAFSA for Law School

Below, you'll find responses to frequently asked questions about FAFSA for law school.

1. Can You Use FAFSA for Law School?

Yes, you can use FAFSA to apply for financial aid for law school. FAFSA helps determine your eligibility for federal student aid programs

2. Is FAFSA Different for Law School?

FAFSA itself is not different for law school. However, some law schools may have additional institutional aid programs or specific deadlines for FAFSA submission.

3. How Do You Negotiate Financial Aid for Law School?

Negotiating financial aid for law school involves contacting the financial aid office and expressing your interest in attending while discussing your financial situation. You can provide competing offers from other law schools to leverage better aid packages.

4. Is It Possible to Get Full Financial Aid for Law School Through FAFSA?

While FAFSA can provide you access to various federal student aid programs, getting full financial aid only through FAFSA is rare. Many law schools also offer scholarships and institutional aid, so it's advisable to explore multiple funding sources to cover the cost of law school.

5. Can I Submit My FAFSA Before Applying to Law Schools?

Yes, you can submit your FAFSA application before applying to law schools. In fact, it's recommended to complete your FAFSA as early as possible, as some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

6. What If I Have Special Circumstances That Affect My Ability To Pay for Law School?

If you have special circumstances, such as changes in income or unexpected expenses, that may impact your ability to pay for law school, you can contact the financial aid office of the respective law schools. 

They can guide you through submitting a "Special Circumstances Appeal" or a "Professional Judgment Review" to reassess your financial aid eligibility based on your current situation.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the complexities of securing FAFSA for law school may seem daunting, but it is an essential pathway to making your legal education financially feasible. It serves as a crucial tool in this process, providing access to various financial assistance programs.

By diligently completing and submitting your FAFSA application, you take a significant step toward making your legal education more affordable, gaining access to grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and favorable federal loans. 

This commitment not only eases financial obstacles but also reflects your dedication to your academic and professional aspirations, setting you on a path to a brighter future.

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