Financial Aid

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14.1  Financial Aid at the UW Law School

There are two resources for financial assistance at the UW Law School: the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA), and the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office. The OSFA, the University's main financial aid office, awards all federal loans as well as federal work-study funds. The Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office awards scholarships based on a variety of criteria.

Contact information for the Office of Student Financial Aid: 333 East Campus Mall #9701, Madison, WI 53715, or (608) 262-3060.

Contact information for the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office: 975 Bascom Mall, Room 4314, Madison, WI 53706, or (608) 262-5914. 

14.2  To Apply for Federal Aid

To apply for federal aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available online at You must specify the University of Wisconsin-Madison as one of the schools that has permission to access to your data. To do so, enter our Federal School Code: 003895. If you would like to be considered for Graduate Plus Loan eligibility, you must also complete the GradPLUS request form and Federal Direct PLUS Master Promissory Note, available at

Once the OSFA receives your FAFSA, they will contact you if additional forms are needed, including tax documents from prior years.

14.3  To Apply for Need- and Merit-Based Scholarships

Prospective students seeking need- and merit- based scholarships should complete the Law School’s Scholarship Application Form, which will be sent to them after they submit their law school application.

Continuing students should submit an updated scholarship request by the summer prior to the coming academic year. Details on the reapplication process are available at

14.4  Award Letters and Processing of Financial Aid

Once your financial aid application is complete and has been processed, you will be notified of your financial aid award. If you are awarded a scholarship, the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office will send you a letter, notifying you of your scholarship and explaining how to accept it.

The OSFA will then generate a financial aid award for you. This award will reflect any scholarship awarded by the Law School, as well as any federal loan eligibility.* If you would like to be considered for work-study, you can contact the OSFA and request any work-study eligibility to be included in your award. Once you receive your award notification, you can do one of three things: (1) accept all of it (meaning all loans for which you are eligible); (2) accept part of it (i.e. you may not need all the loans you are eligible for); (3) accept none of it. Remember that you retain this maximum eligibility throughout the academic year up until roughly one month before the end of the spring term.

Your financial aid notification will be sent by email from the OSFA. It will contain instructions on how to access your award information online. There you will accept or decline your award, and you must do so within 60 days or the aid offer may be cancelled.  To learn more about the process, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid website.   Please note, financial aid is offered on an annual basis.  You must apply each year, and you should complete the process by early summer.  

* Remember, your financial aid award will only include GradPLUS loan eligibility if you have filled out the GradPLUS request form and Master Promissory Note as explained in Section 14.2. If you have questions about the GradPLUS application process, or would like to apply for GradPLUS loans, please contact the OSFA at (608) 262-3060.

14.5    Fall 2014-15 Tuition & Fees - Law School*


* Tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 academic year will be announced by the Board of Regents in late July or early August.

**Segregated fees are included in the Resident, Nonresident, and Minnesota figures.

14.5.1   Residency for Tuition Purposes

For more information on the application of the Wisconsin Statutes governing residence status for tuition purposes and an excerpt of the statutes, you may consult the Registrar's Residence for Tuition Purposes website or call the Residence Examiner's Office at the Office of the Registrar at (608) 262-1355.

14.5.2  Minnesota Reciprocity

Students who are residents of Minnesota can attend the University of Wisconsin at a special reduced tuition rate under the Wisconsin-Minnesota Tuition Reciprocity Agreement

To take advantage of this rate, a Minnesota resident wishing to attend any public university in Wisconsin must be certified by the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office (MHESO). Applications are available from MHESO. For more information, visit or contact MHESO at:

Minnesota Higher Education Service Office (MHESO)
1450 Energy Park Drive, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55108-5227
Telephone: (651) 642-0567 or (800) 657-3866

Recertification by MHESO is required for each academic year. Benefits generally will be renewed automatically by that agency for students who were registered and remained enrolled in credit courses during any term of the previous academic year and paid reciprocity tuition for that term.

If you have additional questions about the reciprocity system, you may call the Residence Examiner's Office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at (608) 262-1355.

14.6  Estimated Standard Student Expense Budget

Estimated Total Student Expense Budget for the 2014-2015 Academic Year*



Minnesota Reciprocity

Tuition$ 21,372
$ 40,068
$ 39,720
Books & Supplies    2,450    2,450    2,450
    4,954    4,954
$ 41,048
$ 59,744
$ 59,396

* The estimated student expense budget for the 2015-2016 academic year has not yet been set. We expect these figures to be finalized by late July or early August.

Part-time students are charged on a per-credit basis.

"Thrifty" Student Expense Budget for the 2014-15 Academic Year**

Students whose personal circumstances allow them to cut expenses from the Standard Student Expense Budget should consider following the "Thrifty Budget" listed below. This budget assumes that you share a one-bedroom apartment with a roommate or spouse.

$ 21,372
$ 40,068
$ 39,720
Books & Supplies
$ 36,917
$ 55,613
$ 55,265

**Miscellaneous includes $103 for the student's portion of renter's insurance and $194 for Direct loan fees. Health insurance and a computer purchase are excluded.  

14.6.1  Calculating Your Personal Expense Budget

In order to determine how much financial aid you will need to take (i.e. how much in loans and scholarship funds), you need to compare your personal nine-month school-year budget to the estimated student expense budget created by the OSFA. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the OSFA estimated that the average law student living in Madison will need an average of $1,959.33 per month to sustain himself/herself. This figure is obtained by adding the room/board, miscellaneous and books/supplies figures together and dividing by 9 (i.e. the number of months in the 9-month academic school year). As you calculate your monthly budget, keep in mind that you will be spending more up front for your books.  If you are interested in pursuing an unpaid internship over the summer, your monthly budget amount during the 2014-2015 academic year would have been $1,469.50 per month for a 12-month period. Each student then needs to determine whether her/his expenses total more or less than this budgeted figure. If your expenses are less than your estimated monthly budgeted amount, then you may not need to take all the loans for which you are eligible. If your expenses are more than that amount, you may need to speak with a financial aid advisor at the OSFA or Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office to discuss your special circumstances and complete a Budget Adjustment Form, if necessary.

Please note: The federal financial aid guidelines do not allow schools to incorporate expenses such as car payments or commercial credit debt into your estimated budget of expenses. If you will carry such expenses into law school, you will need to make other arrangements to have those costs covered, or reduce your expenses in another area to compensate.

14.6.2  Students Who Worked Full-Time During the Year Preceding Law School

If you worked full-time during the calendar year preceding the year you enrolled in law school, the FAFSA data used to complete your federal award letter is based on the preceding calendar year’s income. Generally, when students return to law school, they resign their full-time positions and thus are in significantly different financial circumstances than when they completed the FAFSA. Students in this situation should notify the OSFA of their change in level of income as soon as possible so that this special circumstance can be considered. 

14.6.3  What To Do If You Are Experiencing Financial Difficulties

In some instances, students’ financial aid awards are not sufficient to cover their tuition/fees and living expenses. This generally occurs for two kinds of students: (1) students who experience unexpected expenses during the academic year; and (2) students with expenses beyond the usual full-time graduate student budget.

If you find that you are having significant difficulty meeting your expenses with your financial aid funds, you should consult the OSFA to see if your situation warrants completion of a Budget Adjustment Form. In some cases, completing the form will increase your federal loan eligibility, solving your problem. Additionally, the OSFA may be able to suggest other forms of assistance such as an alternative private student loan.

If you have additional questions regarding financial aid, or if you continue to have financial difficulty, you should consult the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office at (608) 262-5914.

14.6.4  Short Term Emergency Loans

Short term loans are intended to assist students who need a small amount ($500 or less) of money for a short period of time. Short term loans are commonly used to assist students buying books or paying rent while they wait for their financial aid award to arrive. Please contact the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office for more information.

14.7  Reapplication Process for Continuing Students

As a continuing student, you must reapply for aid for the coming fall at the beginning of the Spring term each year. To reapply, you must follow the same steps detailed above. You can complete your FAFSA online at as soon after January 1st as you have the information to complete your federal income taxes.

14.8  Managing Your Student Loans During School and Upon Graduation

The majority of law students take out student loans to cover their cost of attendance. Because student loan debt can factor into your career choices upon graduation, it is essential that you manage your student loan portfolio both during law school and after graduation. We encourage you to manage your financial aid actively and intentionally, and to not avoid addressing realities of repayment until graduation.

The Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office will host regular seminars and presentations throughout your time in law school to help you understand your loan obligations as well as repayment options, and we encourage you to meet with Assistant Dean Rebecca Scheller to assess your loan situation and plan for managing loans post-graduation.

Keep in mind that financial aid legislation is always changing.  It's critical that you stay informed of changes as they might affect your repayment terms or provide you with different opportunities to lower your debt burden. 

14.8.1  Preparing for Graduation

As you prepare for graduation, you should ensure that you have a firm command of all of your student loan data. Much of this information is found at Make sure you have a comprehensive list of all your loans (from both undergraduate and graduate studies), as well as who the lender is for each, the different account numbers, and the type of loan (e.g. Subsidized or Unsubsidized). Generally, your federal loans will have a six-month grace period for repayment after graduation. You should ensure that you know when your first payment is due for each loan. If you are not contacted around graduation time regarding repayment, you should contact your lender(s). You should make certain that your lender(s) always has your most up-to-date contact information. Failure to receive the bill is not a valid defense against defaulting on your loans. You can contact either your lender or the Office of Student Financial Aid (608) 262-3060 for assistance in determining your full debt load.

Remember, you are ultimately responsible for repaying your student loans. Failing to do so in a timely manner may result in damage to your credit score and other long-term consequences.

14.8.2  Loan Repayment Plans

There are various federal loan repayment plans that may be available to you, depending on your individual loan portfolio. You can choose the option that best meets your needs based on your financial goals and what you can afford to pay each month. You can change your repayment plan by contacting your servicer. To see a full list of federal student loan repayment plans and associated calculators, visit If you have questions about your loan repayment options, you can contact the Office of Student Financial Aid (608) 262-3060 or the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office (608) 262-5914.

14.8.3  Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities

As a borrower, you have both rights and responsibilities, including the responsibility to repay your loans and the right to postpone repayment, if needed. If you have difficulty making your payments once your post-graduation grace periods have ended, you should speak to your lender about the following two options:  Deferment

A deferment is a temporary period during which no payments are made on your loan.  While you are in deferment, the government pays the interest on any subsidized loans, but interest accrues on your unsubsidized loans.  However, you do not have to pay the interest while in deferment; you can allow the accrued interest to be capitalized (added to the principal balance of your loan) when you leave deferment.  The lender adds the number of months during which a loan was in deferment to the repayment period. Find out more about deferment at

Five types of deferment are available for individuals with certain types of federal loans: 

  1. Education-related
  2. Economic hardship
  3. Unemployment
  4. Military service
  5. Post-active duty  Forbearance

Forbearance can help you meet your loan repayment obligations by allowing a temporary cessation of payments, an extension of the time available for making payments, or smaller payments than previously scheduled. A student can apply for a forbearance if they cannot make their monthly loan payments and they do not qualify for a deferment. There are several types of forbearance on federal loans. Your loan servicer may grant forbearance only if they believe that you intend to repay your federal loans, but that you are currently unable to make payments due to poor health or other acceptable reasons, including financial hardship.  Forbearance can be given up to one year at a time. Contact your loan servicer for more information and to obtain any needed forms to apply for forbearance.  Find out more about forbearance at

14.8.4  Repayment Incentives

Lenders and servicers may offer repayment incentives on federal and/or private loans to encourage on-time repayments.  These may include interest rate reductions to responsible borrowers who make a certain number of consecutive monthly payments, or who elect to have their payments automatically withdrawn from their checking or savings accounts. 

14.8.5  Consequences for Delinquent or Defaulted Loans

There are severe consequences if you do not make your loan payments on time or at all.  Remember, you are responsible for contacting your lender/servicer immediately if you anticipate having any difficulty making payments.  The potential consequences of delinquent or defaulted loans are listed below: 

  1. Information is reported to loan and national credit agencies.
  2. Your credit rating could be affected for as long as seven years.  This may affect your ability to obtain credit cards, mortgages, car loans and most types of federal loans. 
  3. Your wages could be garnished and your assets seized.
  4. You may lose the ability to establish a payment schedule or the ability to qualify for a deferment and/or cancellations.
  5. Your loan(s) may be referred to a collection agency, and you may be held liable for litigation and costs.
  6. Your professional license(s) may not be granted or renewed.
  7. Your federal and state income tax refunds may be withheld by the government to be applied to the balance of your loans.

14.8.6 Repayment Assistance Public Service Loan Forgiveness

In 2007, Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) to encourage individuals to work full time in public service jobs. Under this program, borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on their eligible federal student loans after they have made 120 payments on those loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers. To find out more about PSLF and other types of loan cancellation or discharge, visit The University of Wisconsin Law School Loan Repayment Assistance Program

The Law School sponsors a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), which provides small grants to students who accept permanent public interest jobs after graduation. Since its inception in 2002, the LRAP has provided from between two to six months of loan repayment in the form of a lump sum payment upon the student's acceptance of a "qualifying position." The size of they award may vary depending on the applicant pool and the applicants' debt obligations. "Qualifying positions" include legal positions at a nonprofit organization or government agency with a specific maximum annual salary.

14.8.7  Bar Loans

A bar loan can help with bar exam expenses, including bar review course fees, bar exam deposit and/or fees and living expenses. Bar loans are private, credit-based, and interest rates are usually variable. These loans are not eligible for federal loan repayment plans or public service loan forgiveness.

To inquire about bar loans, contact your local lender. Bar loan availability has diminished since 2008, but we are currently aware of the following lenders that continue to offer bar loans: CitibankSallie Mae, and there may be others.

14.9  Helpful Resources

Federal Sites:

Loan Repayment Calculators:

Financial Literacy and Personal Finance:

Credit Reports:

For more information and assistance with understanding your loans and repayment options, please contact Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid, Rebecca Scheller. The Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office is located in Room 4314, and you may call directly at 608-262-5914.

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