Types of Aid

The GW Law Financial Aid Office administers a variety of institutional scholarships, need-based grants, and loans that are awarded on the basis of merit or financial need. Your aid package may include different types of financial aid awards. The pages in this section describe the institutional, federal, and alternative types of aid available.

In no case may your aid package exceeds the total cost of attendance for your enrollment period, including all sources of GW Institutional Aid, Federal/Commercial Loans, and any/all outside sources of aid.

Need-Based Grants

Funding for the grants, which do not need to be repaid, is provided by Law School general revenue. Based upon your financial need and availability of funds, grant award amounts may vary each year; you must reapply annually. Grant renewal is not guaranteed.

Full- or part-time (enrolled at least half-time) JD candidates may apply for grant assistance. You must be eligible to borrow federal financial aid, i.e., be a valid U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and must not be in default on a prior federal loan. Transfer students, international students, students receiving GW employee tuition benefits, joint BA/JD students, and GW merit scholars receiving annual awards of $20,000 or more are ineligible for need-based grants.

Need-based grant eligibility is based upon your and your family’s financial circumstances, as demonstrated from the information you and your parents provide on the federal, private, and institutional need analysis forms we require. Amounts are determined by subtracting from GW Law’s cost of attendance: the institutional calculated family contribution, the full amount of the Federal Direct Stafford Loan, and any other scholarships/aid you may have for the academic year. Typical examples of other aid would be: GW Law merit scholarships, AmeriCorps awards, employee benefits, and any other external scholarships/grants.

With few exceptions, GW Law requires parental data from all applicants for assistance, regardless of age or marital status. JD students are required to exhaust the maximum available loan under the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program ($20,500) each year in order to be considered for a GW Law need-based grant.  Students who do not do so will have their need-based grant revoked.

If you are the recipient of a GW Law merit scholarship lower than $20,000 a year, you may still apply for a GW Law need-based grant. Your merit scholarship, need-based grant, and any external resources dedicated to tuition may not exceed the cost of tuition.  If the combined funds exceed the cost of tuition, your award will be decreased, first by need-based grant funds, and then by merit scholarship funds.

Apply for Financial Aid

Federal Direct Stafford Loans

The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan  ("Stafford") program is the most readily available of the federal loans for GW Law students. 

Quick Facts

  • Interest rate: fixed annually, currently 6.54% for loans disbursed between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023
  • Origination fee:  adjusted annually on October 1; currently 1.057%, deducted proportionately from each disbursement
  • Annual maximum: $20,500 per year. Aggregate maximum: $138,500 graduate and undergraduate
  • One lender: the Department of Education, for borrowing and repayment
  • No bank or guarantor involved
  • Servicer: an agent of the Department of Education; not sold to a third party.
  • At repayment, accrued interest is capitalized, i.e., becomes part of the principal amount borrowed
  • Standard repayment: ten years, unless payments are extended by loan consolidation or other repayment plan
  • Consolidation with Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Direct GradPLUS Loans, repayable over a longer time period, depending upon amount borrowed
  • Early repayment penalty: None
  • If you reduce your enrollment status, withdraw, or take a leave of absence from the law school, you may enter repayment sooner
  • Federal loans qualify for deferments and forbearance options as well as death and disability provisions

How to Apply for Federal Loans

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

If you are a U.S. citizen/permanent resident and do not have "adverse credit," you may borrow the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan to supplement the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan in an amount up to the total COA less all other financial aid.

Quick Facts

  • Interest rate: fixed annually, currently 7.54% for loans disbursed between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023
  • Origination fee: adjusted annually on October 1; currently 4.228%, deducted proportionately from each disbursement
  • Annual maximum: GradPLUS is COA less all other aid
  • Aggregate maximum: none At repayment, accrued interest is capitalized, i.e., becomes part of the principal amount borrowed
  • One lender (the Department of Education) for borrowing and repayment
  • Serviced by a Department of Education agent, not sold to a third party
  • Federal loans qualify for deferments and forbearance options as well as death and disability provisions
  • No bank or guarantor involved
  • Standard repayment: ten years, unless payments are extended by loan consolidation or other repayment plan
  • Consolidation with Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans: Yes, repayable over a longer time period, depending upon amount borrowed
  • Early repayment penalty: None
  • If you reduce your enrollment status, withdraw, or take a leave of absence from the Law School, you may enter repayment sooner
  • This loan requires a credit application*

*All GradPLUS loan require a credit decision. Your credit will be checked after you accept the loan in Banweb when the loan file is sent to the Department of Education.  It is not your credit score, but your recent credit history, which is scrutinized. You may complete the PLUS Request process at www.studentaid.gov if you would like to check your credit before the loan is transmitted. You and/or your endorser's credit report will be pulled by the Department of Education. Credit decisions are only valid for 180 days. If you apply for additional GradPLUS during the academic year but after your credit decision has expired, your credit will be checked again.

How to Apply for a GradPLUS Loan

Commercial Loans

Private education (also known as alternative) loans are offered by many private banks or lenders and are used for education expenses not covered by other sources of financial aid.  In general, federal education loans have better overall terms than private education loans, specifically in the area of loan repayment.  We encourage you to utilize all federal student loan eligibility before seeking an alternative loan.

Private loans cannot be consolidated with federal loans, nor do they qualify for the many income-based repayment plans federal loans have. If you have excellent credit, you may qualify for a better interest rate than the federal loans’ fixed rates.  If you are not concerned about possible future changes to loan terms the lender might dictate, you might prefer this kind of loan.  The Law School does not include private education loans in its financial aid packages, so if you choose to borrow a private loan, let us know. 

Private education loans are available to those law students who feel they will need more than the $20,500 maximum available from the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program, or who are either ineligible, or do not want a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS--or any federal loans, for that matter.

Quick Facts

  • Maximum amount: cost of attendance less other financial aid received
  • Enrollment requirement: at least half-time, and be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, or provide a U.S. cosigner if you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Rates: variable or fixed interest rate determined by the lender; may change as often as every 30 days, and have no interest rate cap
  • Approval: based on your credit history, which may also affect the interest rate; depends on lender
  • Credit criteria, application process and maximum lifetime borrowing limits depend on lender
  • Deferment: usually only for six or nine months after you have withdrawn/graduated from an institution. If you were to enroll in another program, your loan would not be deferred again
  • Not automatically discharged upon death or total and permanent disability. Lenders collect from your estate or, if a co-applicant signed with you, your co-applicant
  • Loan subject to TILA (Truth in Lending Act) requirements
  • You must submit a completed Private Loan Self Certification Form to your lender
  • You must complete the Private Student Loan Counseling Checklist

Each commercial loan product has specific enrollment level requirements and prior balance coverage standards.  Make sure the lender’s enrollment requirements and other standards meet your specific needs.  The final approval and disbursement decision rests with the lender; school certification of the eligible amount is not a guarantee of loan funds delivery. Once approved, private education loans have a rescission period during which time you have the right to cancel the loan prior to its disbursement. Required lender disclosures to you and rescission period will slow down the disbursement of the loan. 

Due to recent changes in federal regulations, the Law Financial Aid Office is not allowed to offer recommendations on any lending program (see our Code of Conduct).  It is wise to shop around for different lenders and products to find the loan option that best suits your needs.  An internet search for "private education loans," "commercial student loans," and or "alternative student loans" provides a valuable starting point for both learning about the terms of the loans and reviewing the products available from various lending institutions.

Employee Tuition Benefits

Employees of GW and their spouses are eligible to receive tuition benefits to attend the Law School. If you are receiving tuition remission benefits, you are not eligible to receive any funds from GW Law, including Merit Scholarships or Need-Based Grants. More information on tuition benefits is available from the University's Human Resources website.

If you receive employee tuition benefits from GWU or any other employer, you must report the source and dollar amount for the academic year to Law Financial Aid on your GW Financial Aid Application form. The tuition benefit total amount will be counted as a resource which will reduce your overall financial aid need and may alter your eligibility for other aid.

Outside Sources of Aid

Financial Aid is unique for each student; we encourage you to investigate as many opportunities for funding as possible. Search the Internet often, as new awards appear all the time, and old ones may be discontinued.

Outside scholarships/loans are considered "other financial aid" which is counted against your cost of education for the academic year. If you are applying for a GW Law need-based grant, any other financial aid you receive is subtracted from cost to lower your unmet need. If, after receiving an aid package from GW Law, you later receive aid from an outside source, your GW aid package must be recalculated.

Typically, outside scholarships target populations based on region, race, religion, or employer. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for industries, civic organizations, lawyers’ wives associations, Bar associations, and the like for possible opportunities in your area.

Our office has compiled a list of outside scholarships and resources for law students. Disclaimer: The listing of outside scholarships is for informational purposes only. Inclusion in the listing does not constitute an endorsement by the GW Law Financial Aid Office or the George Washington University. All questions regarding the scholarships listed should be directed to the person or organization providing the scholarship. Neither the GW Law Financial Aid Office nor the George Washington University can guarantee the accuracy or the timeliness of information found at any of the links in the listing.

If you receive an outside scholarship, please have the foundation send the check to:

ATTN: Financial Aid Staff
The George Washington University Law School
Financial Aid Office
700 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

Merit Scholarships

At GW Law, merit scholarships are partially funded through the generosity of our alumni. The Admissions Office automatically considers all admitted applicants for law school merit scholarships on the basis of the information contained in your admission file; no additional information is required.

The law school begins awarding merit scholarships during the admissions decision process, and continues to make awards every few weeks until all merit funds are exhausted.  In order to accept a merit scholarship, the Admissions Office must receive your first seat deposit by April 15.

Merit scholarships are disbursed half at the beginning of the fall semester, the other half at the beginning of the spring. Merit scholarships are not available during the summer semester. The scholarship renews automatically in the same annual amount for your consecutive years of study as long as you remain in good academic standing in the JD program for which you were originally admitted (i.e. Full-Time, Part-Time) continuously with no leaves of absences or suspensions. Please note that you are not eligible for any scholarships or need-based grants if you are receiving benefits via the GW tuition remission plan. Details on academic standing are available under the Dean of Students.

If you receive a merit scholarship of $20,000 or more, you are ineligible to receive need-based grants. If you already have been awarded a GW need-based grant and are later awarded a merit scholarship, your level of need will have changed.  Therefore it is more than likely that the need-based grant may be adjusted or even revoked.

The Admissions Office awards scholarships to incoming 1Ls only. If you do not receive a merit scholarship for your first year of law study, you are ineligible to receive one as an upperclassman.