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Student Loans

In addition to scholarships, student loans are available to help students fund their legal education. 95% of students at American law schools take advantage of this form of financial aid. 

Types of Student Loans

Federal Direct Loan Program

Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. Some benefits of Federal Direct Loans include: low fixed interest rates; multiple repayment plans including several Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans; cancellation, discharge, and forgiveness of loans under certain circumstances; and postponement options, including deferment and forbearance of loan payments if you return to school or experience an economic hardship. Visit to find detailed information including current interest rates and loan fees and information on managing federal loans based on where you are in the process.

Before you receive your Federal Direct Loan funds, first time borrowers will be required to:

  • Complete entrance counseling for graduate or professional students, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan.
  • Sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan. Note, there are separate MPNs for Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS Loans.

The two types of Federal Direct Loans available to students at California Western are Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS:

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at a fixed interest rate. This loan can provide up to $20,500 per academic year. 

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are available to eligible graduate or professional students to help pay for educational expenses, up to the student’s cost of attendance, minus other aid offered. A credit check is required. Borrowers who have adverse credit histories must meet additional requirements to qualify.

Private Student Loans

Student loans can also come from private sources, such as banks or financial institutions. These are often called private student loans and may provide funds for students who do not qualify for federal loans, such as international students. Eligibility is based on your credit history and the lending institution’s willingness to lend. Terms and conditions vary greatly.

Private student loans are not an enhancement above a student's financial aid eligibility; the maximum a student is allowed to borrow is limited by their cost of attendance (COA), minus other aid offered. For information on the current COA, visit the Tuition and Fees section of the CWSL website. 

The California Western School of Law Financial Aid Office encourage students to weigh the benefits of federal educational loans compared to private student loans.  Private loans may cost less if you have good credit, but the benefits and protections of federal loans (many listed in the Federal Direct Loan Program information above) may outweigh private options.

If you are considering a private student loan ensure that you read and understand the following information: Truth in Lending Act. Finally, while it is the lender's responsibility to provide you with a Private Educational Loan Applicant Self Certification Form, if they do not you can find one here: Private Educational Loan Applicant Self Certification Form

If you decide a private student loan makes sense for you, apply directly with the lender of your choosing.  Request the total amount for the fall AND spring terms. Carefully read all application and promissory note materials provided by the lender.  Once the loan is secured, email the Financial Aid Office at JavaScript Required from your CWSL student email account to request school certification and include the lender name and amount requested.

Bar Study Loans

Bar study loans are private loans that can help cover your bar study and bar exam expenses. The Financial Aid Office does not provide recommendations on lenders. You may choose to research available lenders as you make your decision. Below are links to bar loan lenders for two lenders (in alphabetical order) we are aware of that offer bar study loans as of February 2024:

PNC Bank

Sallie Mae

  1. Financial Aid Office

    If you have additional questions about student loans please contact the Financial Aid Office.

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