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Finances after Graduation

Graduating from California Western brings exciting new opportunities. Starting out a legal professional, you want to hit the ground running on this next phase of your journey. We’ve gathered some options and resources that can help graduates make informed decisions about their finances.

Loan Consolidation

A Federal Direct Consolidation Loan is not a refinancing tool, but it can help borrowers move their federal loans from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and/or Perkins Loan Program to the Direct Loan Program. Consolidation can also help borrowers who have multiple lenders. In general, we recommend that students strongly consider obtaining a Federal Consolidation Loan in the following six situations:

  • You have a Grad PLUS loan with an endorser (cosigner), and you want to make it so that the endorser is no longer responsible for the loan.
  • You have an FFEL Stafford Loan, FFEL Grad PLUS Loan, or FFEL Consolidation Loan (from a bank lender before 2010 – even if it was sold to ED), and you want the loan to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or income-driven plans other than Income-Based Repayment.
  • You have a Perkins loan, you don’t expect to qualify for Perkins cancellation, and you want the loan to qualify for PSLF and income-driven plans.
  • You have a variable rate Direct Loan (from before July 2006), and you want the rate to be fixed at its current level.
  • You have multiple servicers, or you would like a servicer you think would be better for you.
  • You are in default on a federal student loan, and you have decided that consolidation is the best way to get your loan out of default. (Be aware – there are other, probably better methods to accomplish this).

The Department of Education’s Loan Consolidation page is also a good source for more information about loan consolidation. 

Loan Repayment Assistance

Graduates who work for legal aid, legal services, or other nonprofit advocacy and policy organizations can qualify for loan repayment assistance. The Adrianne Baker Fellowship is California Western’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Each year, the program offers a small number of students one-time awards of up $5,000. To be eligible students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Graduates must apply in the five years immediately following their graduation from the J.D. program.
  2. Graduates must be employed or entering full time employment in a law or law-related position for a legal aid or legal services organization or a nonprofit advocacy or policy organization that qualifies for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Government employees are not eligible.
  3. Graduates must have more than $50,000 in certified law school debt.

To apply, students need to submit the following:

Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) Program Summary (PDF)

Loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) application (PDF)

Employment verification (PDF)

Authorization for release of information (PDF)

The Adriene Baker Fellowship committee considers the following when distributing awards:

  • Financial needs.
  • Commitment to the public interest.
  • The number of applicants.
  • The availability of present and future funds.
  • The need for continuation of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program in the future.
  • Any other relevant factors.
  • Previous recipients may re-apply, but their previous awards will be considered in the awarding process.
  • The ideology of the organization by which the graduate is employed will not be considered in determining eligibility.

Repayment Strategies

Here are some helpful questions and answers when thinking about loan repayment.

How much debt do I owe?

You can find a complete portfolio of federally-financed aid, including loan amounts and servicers on the U.S. Department of Education’s secure website.

Learn more about finding your loans

What loans should I consolidate?

While loan consolidation works for some recent graduates, it may not work for everyone. Direct loans taken after 2006 should not be consolidated. However, if you carry undergraduate debt or Federal Family Education Loans, consolidation may be beneficial. 
What repayment plan works best for me?

Learn more about consolidation

What repayment plan works best for me?

If you hold less than the equivalent of one year’s salary in loan debt, a regular amortized repayment plan, such as Standard or Extended repayment, may be right for you. If your loan amount exceeds your anticipated first-year salary, or if you intend to pursue a career in public service, PAYE, IBR, or REPAYE may be the way to go.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) is usually the best option for most borrowers. Students who were “new borrowers” prior to October 2007 are not eligible for PAYE and may need to choose between the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plans. Income-driven repayment plans such as these can provide much-needed relief in the early years of practice and for those who choose public service careers. An income-driven plan is needed in order to benefit from Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Contact your loan servicer to request an income-driven repayment plan. You must document your income each year. If you don’t complete the required annual paperwork, your servicers can temporarily place you into a flat 10-year repayment plan that may be more than you can afford to pay.

Learn more about repayment plans

Loan Repayment Assistance Program

If you are selected to receive an award, you will be notified during the fall. Contact William Kahler in the Financial Aid Office for questions about the program or application.

Contact Us


CWSL Financial Aid Office
Loan Repayment Assistance Program
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101