The money you borrow to finance your legal education is an investment in your future. Please be assured that you are in good company. Nearly 80% of Cumberland School of Law students receive some form of financial assistance, and you have very helpful financing options available to you.
By completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, you are eligible to receive Stafford law school loans from the federal government in the amount of $20,500. To cover the rest of the cost of attendance, our students obtain the Graduate Plus Loan, which covers the full cost of your Cumberland School of Law education, minus any scholarship you may receive. With these two federal loans, you will be able to cover the full cost to attend our institution.
Important to the financial aid process is a financial budgeting commitment. It boils down to two simple rules. Rule number one, create a reasonable budget. Rule number two, stick to it.
First-year students are considered for scholarship upon application and will be notified of an award upon acceptance to the full-time program. However, the Jere F. White Jr. Fellowship, the top scholarship for entering first-year students, requires completion of a separate application and essay.
At Cumberland School of Law, there are many ways to turn your dream of attending law school into reality and manage your financial assistance, via internal and external scholarships and/or federal loans.
For more in-depth information on obtaining federal aid for law school, please read through the 5 Basic Steps for Securing Federal Financial Aid below:
Step One: Complete Your FAFSA
There are currently two federal loans that will cover the cost of attendance to law school, the unsubsidized Stafford loan and the GradPLUS loan. Your eligibility for both loans will be determined by the information in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Visit fafsa.ed.gov for the application and instructions. When completing your FAFSA, you should note the following:
- Completing your FAFSA will not affect your being considered for scholarship assistance from the law school.
- J.D. candidates are automatically considered “independent” for FAFSA purposes. Therefore, indicate that you are attending graduate school and are independent. You do not need to enter your parents’ financial information.
- If possible, the FAFSA should be completed by March 1 so that you can fully assess your eligibility for federal loans before your seat deposits and tuition are due. It typically takes one to two weeks for this information to be processed and forwarded to the schools you selected. Keep in mind that, at this time, you will only see your eligibility for the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. When financial aid packages are completed mid-summer, you will receive the full amount for which you are eligible. Typically, students are awarded up to the total student budget (also known as the Cost of Attendance) minus scholarship, if awarded.
- Include the “SAMFORD UNIVERSITY BIRMINGHAM, AL” federal school code 001036 to ensure that Samford’s Office of Financial Aid will receive your FAFSA information once processed. FAFSA forms are processed by the Office of Financial Aid (OFA) after the second seat deposit deadline.
- The academic year begins in August. Your FAFSA will determine your eligibility to receive federal funds for the school year starting with the fall term in August and the following spring and summer terms. If you are considering taking the 1L Summer courses that begin in May prior to your first semester of law school, you must additionally complete the previous year’s FAFSA to be considered for federal financial aid for summer school. If you already have a FAFSA on file for that school term, simply log into the FAFSA website to make a correction to it by listing your new school and grade level as a graduate student, indicate you are now independent, and add Samford’s federal school code (001036) to the list of schools that will receive your information.
Step Two: Watch for Emails from Samford University's One Stop Office
Completing your FAFSA is only the beginning. There are additional steps that must be completed before receiving federal student loans. Samford’s One Stop corresponds with students electronically. Updates on your financial aid award will be sent to you via your Samford email account. Please check your Samford email account regularly for instructions on how to complete the processing of your federal student loans.
Step Three: Review the Cost of Attendance
The cost of attendance (COA) is an estimate of your expenses for a given academic year. The items in that calculation include tuition, fees, room and board, books, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Step Four: Estimate Your Need
It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of creating your own budget. Tuition and fees are not the only fixed costs for which a student is responsible each academic year. The remaining items in the COA calculation can be used as a guide, but your particular financial need may vary from the amounts listed. For example, if you have a roommate while in law school, you might not need to borrow all of the amount listed for room and board. Or if your spouse or relative is providing living arrangements, you might be able to eliminate that expense.
Step Five: Confirm GradPLUS Loans Through Samford's OFA
A GradPLUS loan is a federal loan that will allow you to borrow additional funding in an amount up to the COA for a given academic year. This loan will automatically be awarded to you if needed. Therefore, there is no need to apply for this loan independently. You will simply confirm your need with the OFA as instructed in their emails to you. Loan funds, in the form of a refund, are available 8-10 days following the release of your financial aid. Therefore, students typically receive their loan refunds during the first week of classes. Students should complete a direct deposit form to avoid additional processing time for financial services to manually distribute checks. If you prefer a check refund, it will be mailed within a few days of processing. Therefore, be sure to update your address in Banner no later than two weeks prior to orientation. If you do not sign up for direct deposit in Banner, your refund will be mailed to the address on your application.
When can you expect your refund? View the student refund schedule here.