The Financial Aid Office provides professional guidance and complete transparency to assist students with the management of the cost of this professional degree program. Students are guided through the financial aid process from application to disbursement, and they are given the necessary resources to practice sound money management.
There are multiple options when it comes to financing your education:
To apply for aid, follow these steps:
Complete the free online application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). ASL’s Title IV federal code number for FAFSA is G35593. Returning second- and third-year students need only file a condensed Renewal FAFSA.
Review the award package sent to you by ASL’s Financial Aid Office.
If you need to borrow funds for your education, visit the Federal Direct Loan website and/or consult private lenders.
The Department of Education typically disburses federal student loans to ASL at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters each academic year.
Your student loans are a major responsibility, and they should be taken very seriously. First and foremost, stay in contact with your lender(s) (or holder/services of your loan) to take full advantage of the student loan benefits. The successful repayment of your student loans will prove to be very beneficial. This will help establish a good credit rating which, in turn, will allow you to borrow in the future for things such as a home.
You need to be familiar with the repayment process, your rights and responsibilities, and what benefits or options are available to you. Remember, even if you do not graduate, you are still responsible for repaying your loan.
If you have borrowed under the Federal Direct Loan program, you are required by federal regulation to complete an exit counseling session when you graduate, stop attending, or are enrolled less than half-time (5 credits per semester). Exit Loan Counseling reviews your rights and responsibilities as a federal student loan borrower and must be completed online.
You will need the following information to complete the Exit Loan Counseling session:
Repayment of your student loans begins once you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time. However, most loans have a six or nine month grace period from the point at which you become less than a half-time student to the point at which your first payment is due.
Both subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct loan borrowers are entitled to receive a grace period. A grace period gives you time to get your finances together before your first loan payment is due. Your grace period begins the day you drop below half-time enrollment status and lasts six months.
During the grace period, the federal government continues to pay the interest on subsidized Federal Direct loans. Unsubsidized Federal Direct loan borrowers, however, are responsible for payment of the interest from the first day funds are disbursed. Therefore, payment of the interest can be made in a couple of different ways. You can pay the interest on a monthly or quarterly basis, or allow the interest to accrue and be capitalized into the principal balance of your loan. During repayment your payment must be at least $50 a month and you have a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 years to repay your student loan. The exact amount of your payment and number of months to repay depends on the total amount you borrowed.
You have the right to prepay part or your entire loan at any time without penalty. This can help reduce the total cost of your borrowing. You may have the right to have your loan canceled in part or in its entirety if you: are unable to continue in your program of study because your school closed and no teach-out agreement was established; participate or participated in the National Service Trust Program; or become totally and permanently disabled or pass away.
You must notify your lender(s) immediately if any of the following occur: you change your address; you change your name; you change your telephone number; you change your Social Security Number; you change employment; your employer’s address changes; or you make any other changes that will affect your loan status.
If you do not repay your loan on time, it will become delinquent and possibly default. This has serious consequences and can be very damaging to your credit rating.
Defaulted loans are reported to national credit agencies, which can negatively affect your credit rating and your ability to purchase a car or home in the future. In addition, the following can occur:
If you are unable to make your scheduled loan payments, do not wait to ask for help – contact your lender(s) immediately.
If you qualify, you can receive deferment of payments. If your circumstances change such that they affect your ability to make your payments, contact your lender(s) immediately to see if you qualify for a deferment or forbearance. Letting your lender(s) know your situation can help prevent your loan from becoming delinquent or going into default.
A deferment allows you to postpone your payment (principal, and in some cases, interest) for a certain period of time for specific reasons recognized by the federal government.
Forbearance allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your principal payments for periods of up to one year at a time. Payment of the interest which accrues during forbearance is your responsibility. You have the option to either pay the interest on a monthly or quarterly basis, or have it accrued and be capitalized into the balance of the loan.
Many situations allow you to defer your loan payments. Your eligibility for a specific deferment is determined by the date your loan was disbursed. The most common reasons borrowers receive a deferment include returning to school or being unable to find employment of at least 30 hours per week. If you are currently making student loan payments, it is very important that you continue making payments until your deferment request is approved by your lender.
If your first subsidized or unsubsidized Federal Stafford or Federal SLS loan was disbursed before July 1, 1993, service in a volunteer organization may qualify you for a deferment. You will need to complete the borrower’s section of a deferment form, specific to the type of deferment you are requesting. Your lender or holder will provide you with the correct form. You may also be required to provide supporting documentation and/or certification, depending upon the deferment you are requesting.
If you are requesting an in-school deferment and applying for a new student loan for the same period of enrollment, you may request an in-school deferment on the application and promissory note.
If you become too delinquent in your scheduled payments, you will default and lose the option to defer future payments. In order to receive the deferment you may be required to provide supporting documentation and/or certification, depending upon the type of deferment you are requesting.
In the event you do not qualify for a deferment, you can request forbearance. Forbearance allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your principal payments for periods of up to one year at a time.
There are four types of forbearance: discretionary, administrative, mandatory and mandatory administrative. Contact your servicer to discuss the type of forbearance for which you may be considered.
Many students who graduate from ASL seek high-paying positions, but others choose to pursue a different path, despite the possibility of lower financial benefits. Only you can decide which path is appropriate for you, but as with most things in life, the choices you make now will affect you and your future.
The first step to determine your financial well-being is to examine your credit report. Everyone should be aware of the information contained on their credit report.
Most students finance their legal education through the use of education loans. As long as you know the costs associated with these loans, it is appropriate to use them.
To determine your financial well-being, you need to know the terms of the education debt. Finaid’s debt calculators provide a good way to analyze your debt burden.
You should also know who holds your loans. Some lenders sell the loans on a secondary market, so the company you borrow from may not be the same company you will send your payment to. Other lenders will still own the loan, but will contract with other companies to service the loan by processing payments, billing and correspondence. Your lender is required to inform you of any of these arrangements. Remember to keep copies of all documents which you receive in a safe place.
Once you know your long-term education debt, the next step to determine your financial well-being is to analyze your short-term debt. Short-term debt usually consists of credit card debt. Ideally you should reduce the outstanding balance(s) on your credit cards to no more than 30 percent of your available credit and have no more than three open credit cards.
Be a smart consumer. Sales are not a reason to charge your cards to the limit. Purchase items that you can pay off within a short period of time so interest charges do not eliminate the sale savings. Save your credit line for emergency use.
If you must use credit cards, reduce your credit expenses as much as possible. You can start by eliminating cards, which have an annual fee and offer no other benefits. Compare interest rates, and eliminate your cards with the highest interest rates, especially if you revolve your balance from month to month.
Don’t stop there; compare all terms, including grace periods. There are some cards that have an annual fee but low interest rates. These may actually be better for you if you revolve a balance from month to month.
If you want to force yourself into paying the balance in-full each month, you may wish to consider a charge card such as American Express instead of a credit card. Know your own credit usage pattern and choose the best card for you. Don’t use department store cards since most of them often have interest rates in excess of 15% – 20%.
Another step on your path to financial well-being is to know when you need help. Some people are fortunate enough to bypass this step throughout their lives, but if you do not, know that help is available to you.
If you are not sure where to turn, consider visiting Consumer Credit Counseling Services. CCCS is a nonprofit organization that can help you avoid even greater difficulties with your debts by possibly reducing your monthly payments and restructuring your consumer debt to allow you to pay it more quickly and on time. Through arrangements with many creditors, CCCS may be able to lower your interest rates and bring your accounts back into a current status. If you need assistance, don’t delay.
In addition to regular credit assistance, the Department of Education has Student Loan Forgiveness. You can find out more about the options available to students facing difficulties. If your loans have already gone into a default status, you can also obtain information on how to bring the loans current through loan rehabilitation and consolidation.
After you figure out where you are financially and how you got there, it is time to determine where you are going. The final step to determine your financial well-being is to create a financial plan and stick to it.
Determine what your income and your expenses for necessities (food, clothing, housing, insurance, etc.) are per month and go from there. Remember, the key word is necessities! Know the difference between a want and a need.
Do the same to project your post-graduation budget. Make a conscious effort to determine your luxuries allowance and try to reduce it as much as possible.
For example, if you have to borrow a commercial loan to pay for living expenses above your necessities, an $8.50 ticket to the movies is actually going to cost you $18.75 later. Avoid borrowing for lifestyle augmentation at all costs; it is too easy and too costly. If eligible, use Work-Study or other part-time employment to pay for your luxury purchases.
For additional information about personal finance, consider making an appointment to see someone in the Financial Aid Office.
Generally, a monthly payment for the Unsubsidized Stafford is approximately $145 per $10,000 you borrowed. If needed, various loan consolidation plans would allow monthly payments to be reduced by extending the repayment period. The longer the repayment period takes, the larger the total amount paid to the lender becomes.
To more accurately calculate your loan payments, you can use the Finaid debt calculators or contact your lender for more information.
When it is time to repay your student loans, several options are available to keep the process as stress-free as possible. You can select a repayment plan that’s right for your financial situation. Generally, you’ll have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan you choose.
View the slides from the Federal Student Loan Repayment presentation sponsored by the ASL Financial Aid Department and the Student Bar Association.
Repayment options include:
To find out which one of these repayment plans works best for you, visit the Federal Student Loan website.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage individuals to fill public service jobs. Under this program, you may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your eligible federal student loans after you have made 120 payments on loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers.
Federal student loan programs offer deferment, forbearance, or other forms of payment relief in limited circumstances. If you have trouble making loan payments, immediately contact the organization that services your loan to see if you qualify for relief. It’s important to take action before you are charged late fees. For Federal Perkins Loans, contact your loan servicer or the school that made you the loan. For Direct and FFEL Stafford Loans, contact your loan servicer. If you do not know who your servicer is, look it up in the federal National Student Loan Data System.
A consolidation loan allows borrowers to combine federal student loans, resulting in one monthly payment.