You can determine whether you need a loan and how much you need to borrow by adding up the total cost of your education (tuition, fees, room and board, etc.) and subtracting the number of scholarships, grants, and savings you have to contribute to those costs.

You should borrow what you need and consider the earning potential in your chosen profession to determine how easily you’ll be able to repay your debt.

Your student loan payments should be a small percentage of your salary after graduation. You can find salary estimates for various occupations in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook at

Federal Student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student loan program is the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan). Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender.

Federal student loans offer many benefits that don’t typically accompany private loans, including:

  • fixed interest rates
  • income-based repayment plans
  • loan cancellation for certain types of employment
  • deferment (postponement) options
  • interest rate reduction based on the repayment method

Also, private loans usually require a credit check, while most federal loans for students do not. For these reasons, students should always exhaust federal student loans.

Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loans

Students can receive Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans if they complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and has no prior federal student loan default or other disqualifying circumstance. There is a 1.057 percent fee for loans on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2022.

Students borrowing Unsubsidized Direct Loans may defer principal and interest payments while enrolled at least half-time and for a six-month grace period following a withdrawal, leave of absence, or graduation. Accrued interest is usually added to the loan principal when the loan goes into repayment.

Students may borrow an annual maximum of $20,500 in Unsubsidized Direct Loans. The interest rate updates annually. For 2022-2023, it is 6.54 percent. The maximum aggregate that a student may borrow during their educational career is $138,500. Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible to borrow under the Direct Loan program but may be eligible for alternative private loans.

The Federal Graduate PLUS Program is available to students at least half-time. Students must be U.S. citizens or registered permanent residents to apply for the loan. The Grad PLUS loan is credit-based, and every application for the loan will result in a credit history inquiry. Adverse credit history may result in a denial of the loan.

Eligible students may borrow up to the cost of attendance, less any other financial assistance. The Grad PLUS loan interest rate updates annually. For 2022-2023, it is 7.54 percent. Students will pay a 4.228 percent loan fee, deducted before the loan is sent to the law school on loans after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2022. Repayment begins within 60 days after the total disbursement of the loan. Still, students may request deferment of payments while enrolled in school at least half-time and usually match the Grad Plus grace period to the Stafford grace period.

To qualify for a Graduate PLUS loan, all students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have exhausted their Unsubsidized Direct Loan annual eligibility. Interest rates on federal student loans are set by federal law, not the U.S. Department of Education.


Federal regulations mandate us to furnish the following Plain Language Disclosures for Federal Direct Subsidized and Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans. These disclosures include details about the specific rights and responsibilities of borrowing these loans. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loans
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

Private Loan Programs

Many private lending institutions offer money to pay for educational expenses. They are not part of the federal student loan program and generally do not feature the flexible repayment terms or the borrower protections offered by federal student loans. Before selecting, students should carefully consider the program’s interest rates, loan fees, and conditions. Most lenders have an online application followed by a credit check. Some lenders may require a credit-worthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen. The law school discourages the use of private student loans unless necessary.

These loans generally have variable interest rates (though higher fixed interest rates may be available), which can increase significantly over the life of a loan, and loan balances that cannot be consolidated with federal loans, potentially increasing repayment to unaffordable levels. We recommend that students discuss their situation with the Financial Aid Office to ensure that a personal loan is the best option.

Bar Study Loans

Graduating students may apply for a Bar Study Loan in the final year of law school study. Bar Study Loans are credit-qualified private loans intended to help cover expenses incurred after graduation while you prepare for the Bar exam. You can borrow from only one lender and obtain only one bar loan. The covered costs include the following:

  • Living costs.
  • The fee for sitting for the bar examination.
  • A bar review course. Study materials.

It would help if you referred to the “Borrower Certification” section of the application for clarification about the purpose of the Bar Study Loan funds. Bar Study Loan applications must be certified by the Office of Financial Aid, and the lending institution mails the check directly to you. You should submit a Bar Study Loan application before graduation. A few lenders may accept applications after graduation, and some require a prior relationship.

The maximum limit of the loan varies from each lender. The minimum limit is $500.00, and the maximum is $16,000. To be eligible for the loan, you must have a satisfactory credit history and be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. Repayment begins six months after graduation. You can review the lenders that can provide you with the necessary funds to cover the cost related to the Bar examination. CUNY School of Law is not responsible for changes made by lenders, and we do not have any agreement with any lenders. Contact and online application information for bar study lenders:

Sallie Mae: or call 1-877-279-7172
PNC Bar Study Loan: or call 1-800-762-1001
Wells Fargo Bar Exam Loan: or call 1-800-378-5526

Consolidation Loan

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate (combine) one or more federal education loans into a new Direct Consolidation Loan to lower your monthly payment amount or gain access to federal forgiveness programs. Learn more about loan consolidation.

  • A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate multiple federal education loans into one at no cost and enable you to prepay your loan at any time without penalty.
  • By completing the free Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Application and Promissory Note, you will confirm the loans you want to consolidate and agree to repay the new Direct Consolidation Loan.
  • Once the consolidation is complete, you will have a monthly charge on the new Direct
  • Consolidation Loan instead of multiple payments on your consolidated loans.
  • Consolidation is available after you graduate and leave school or drop below half-time enrollment.
  • It carries an interest rate based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the consolidated loan, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of 1%.

Please note: It is important to borrow responsibly and only to the extent necessary to maintain a reasonable level of indebtedness.
If you have any questions, email us at or call 718-340-4284.