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Tips on Getting Need-Based Financial Aid

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

According to one formerly needy law student, Georgetown Law rocks.

Jordan Rothman, founder of Student Debt Diaries, says Georgetown did him a solid on the cost of education. In his chronicle, he explains how he got through law school with need-based financial aid and work-study jobs.

His experience is also a study in how students can get need-based aid even at the priciest law schools. Here's how it works:

Need-Based Aid

Rothman says Georgetown, which ranks high and expensive among law schools, gave him 40 percent of the cost of tuition. Transferring up from another school, he went to Georgetown for two years.

"From my own experience, it seems that higher-ranked law schools are the types of institutions that typically have need-based financial aid programs," he said.

According to its website, Georgetown awards tuition grants to about one-third of the full-time J.D. class based on financial need. They are conditioned upon students also getting federal loans, and "a moral obligation for the student to repay the funds received."

The grants are funded by the law school's general fund and contributions from alumni, law firms, foundations and others.

Loans, If Not Grants

"Law schools generally provide most need-based aid in the form of loans rather than grants, and then determine financial need when a student graduates and is working," according to U.S. News & World Reports.

Those who later work in the public sector or lower-paying jobs benefit because repayment is also based on financial ability. Older students may also have an edge because schools typically look at the applicants' financial need, including parents' resources for those students who are 26 years old or younger.

On the other hand, Rothman said, you will have a better chance of qualifying if you go straight from college -- rather than from a well-paying job -- because your income will "essentially be zero."

In his case, he worked while in law school to pay for textbooks, food, and other basics. And Georgetown set up those jobs for him.

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