14.1 Financial Aid at the UW Law School

There are two financial assistance resources for UW Law Students: 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.

For questions about federal loans or other concerns about financial aid packages, students are encouraged to reach out to both OSFA and the Law School Admissions & Financial Aid Office. Current and admitted students are welcome to schedule an appointment with either office to discuss individual questions relating to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as questions regarding the acceptance, disbursement, and repayment of their federal student loans.

Office of Student Financial Aid 
333 East Campus Mall #9701
Madison, WI 53715

Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office 
975 Bascom Mall, Room 6210
Madison, WI 53706

14.2 To Apply for Federal Aid

To apply for federal aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You must specify the University of Wisconsin-Madison as one of the schools that has permission to access your data. To do so, enter our Federal School Code: 003895 or choose University of Wisconsin-Madison from the school search tool.

Once the OSFA receives your FAFSA, they will contact you with further requirements, such as reporting your graduate student aid and providing tax documents from prior years, if necessary.

If you would like to be considered for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan eligibility, you must also complete the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Request Form and PLUS Master Promissory Note. More information is available at the Office of Student Financial Aid website.

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. A link to the application will be sent to you after you submit your 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 the UW Law School Scholarships web page.

14.4 Award Letters and Processing of Financial Aid

Once your financial aid application is complete and has been processed, the OSFA will notify you of your financial aid award. If you are awarded a scholarship, the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office will notify you by email of your scholarship and how to accept it.

The OSFA will generate a financial aid award for you. This award will reflect any scholarship awarded by the Law School, as long as you have accepted the scholarship, 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); OR
  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, and where you can accept, reduce, or decline your award. 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 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan eligibility if you have filled out the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Request Form and PLUS Master Promissory Note as explained in Section 14.2. If you have questions about the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan application process, please contact the OSFA at 608-262-3060.

14.5 Fall 2023-Spring 2024 Tuition & Fees - Law School*

* Segregated fees are included in the resident, nonresident, international, and Minnesota reciprocity figures.
Credits Resident Nonresident International Minnesota
Segregated Fees
1 $1,501.75 $2,239.10 $TBD $2,044.28 $100.28
2 $2,965.08 $4,439.78 $TBD $4,050.14 $162.14
3 $4,428.41     $6,640.46 $TBD $6,056.00 $224.00
4 $5,891.74 $8,841.14 $TBD $8,061.86 $285.86
5 $7,355.07 $11,041.82 $TBD $10,067.72 $347.72
6 $8,818.40 $13,242.50 $TBD $12,073.58 $409.58
7 $10,281.73 $15,443.18 $TBD $14,079.44 $471.44
8 $11,745.06 $17,643.86 $TBD $16,085.30 $533.30
9 $13,208.39 $19,844.54 $TBD $18,091.16 $595.16
10 $14,671.72 $22,045.22 $TBD $20,097.02 $657.02
11 $16,135.05 $24,245.90 $TBD $22,102.88 $718.88
12+ $17,598.38 $26,446.58 $TBD $24,108.74 $780.74

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 or call the Residence Examiner's Office at the Office of the Registrar at 608-262-1355.

14.6 Estimated Student Expense Budgets

Estimated Standard Student Expense Budget

Updated for the 2023-2024 Academic Year

Expenses Resident Non-Resident
Tuition & FEES $35,196.76 $52,893.16
Required Course Material & Educational Supplies $2,450.00 $2,450.00
Housing & Meals $15,208.00 $15,208.00
Personal            $6,012.00 $6,012.00
Transportation $920.00 $1,500.00
Loan Fees $220.00 $220.00
Total: $60,006.76 $78,283.16

Part-time students are charged on a per-credit basis. For more information about tuition and fees for part-time enrollment, please see Section 14.5.

Estimated "Thrifty" Student Expense Budget

Updated for the 2023-2024 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.

Expenses Resident Non-Resident
Tuition & FEES $35,196.76 $52,893.16
Required Course Material & Educational Supplies $2,450.00 $2,450.00
Housing & Meals $13,500.00 $13,500.00
Personal $2,438.00 $2,438.00
Transportation $920.00 $1,500.00
Loan Fees $220.00 $220.00
Total: $54,724.76 $73,001.16

14.6.1 Calculating Your Personal Expense Budget

In order to determine how much financial aid you will need, you should compare your personal budget to the estimated student expense budget created by the OSFA. During the 2023-2024 academic year, the OSFA estimates that the average law student living in Madison will need $2,732.22 per month (Resident)/$2,796.67 per month (Non-Resident) to sustain themself. This figure is obtained by taking the total cost of attendance, subtracting tuition and loan fees, and dividing by 9 (i.e. the number of months in the 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 2023-2024 academic year would be $2,049.17 per month (Resident)/$2,097.50 per month (Non-Resident) for a 12-month period. Each student should determine whether their 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, 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 Prior To Law School

The FAFSA data used to complete your federal award letter is based on your income two years prior to the year for which you will be seeking federal aid. For example, if you are applying for federal aid for the 2023-2024 academic year, you will submit 2021 tax information on your FAFSA. If you worked full-time during the tax year that you are reporting, but do not plan to work full-time during law school, you may be in a significantly different financial situation than that reported on your 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. To do so, send a written statement explaining your change in circumstances, along with supporting documentation, to the OSFA by mail, fax, or email, after you have submitted your FAFSA.

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 a budget adjustment. In some cases, doing so 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 federal aid each year. To reapply, you must follow the same steps detailed above in Section 14.2. You can complete your FAFSA Form online as soon as October 1st for the following fall. The priority deadline for completing your FAFSA is December 1st.

14.8 Managing Your Student Loans During School and Upon Graduation

The majority of law students take out student loans to cover at least a portion of 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 evaluate loan repayment strategies prior to 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. 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 a member of the Admissions and Financial Aid team to assess your loan situation and plan for managing loans post-graduation. You may contact the team at admissions@law.wisc.edu 

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 the Federal Student Aid website. Make sure you have a comprehensive list of all your loans (from both undergraduate and graduate studies), as well as your lenders, your account numbers, and the type of loan. 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 servicer. You should make certain that your servicer 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 servicer or the Office of Student Financial Aid at 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. View a full list of federal student loan repayment plans and associated calculators. If you have questions about your loan repayment options, you can contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at 608-262-3060 or the Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office at 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 after you have exhausted your options through various loan repayment plans (see link in 14.8.2 above). 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 interest while in deferment; if you do not pay the interest on your loan during deferment, the accrued interest may be capitalized (added to the principal balance of your loan) when you leave deferment. Find out more about Federal Student Aid Deferment.

Several types of deferment may be available for individuals with certain types of federal loans, including: 

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

If you are unable to make payments on your loans due to economic hardship, unemployment, or other factors, please contact the OSFA or your loan servicer to determine whether an income-based repayment plan may be an option for you. 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. During forbearance, interest will accrue on all types of federal student loans. You can apply for a forbearance if you cannot make your monthly loan payments, but do not qualify for deferment. There are several types of forbearance on federal loans. Your loan servicer will 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 Federal Student Aid Forbearance

If you are unable to make payments on your loans due to economic hardship, unemployment, or other factors, please contact the OSFA or your loan servicer to determine whether an income-based repayment plan may be an option for you.

14.8.4 Repayment Incentives

Lenders and servicers may offer repayment incentives on federal and/or private loans to encourage timely 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. Please contact your servicer for more information about repayment incentives.

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.  Some 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. Find out more about PSLF and other types of loan cancellation or discharge 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 loan repayment in the form of a lump sum payment upon acceptance of a "qualifying position." The size of the award may vary depending on the applicant pool and your debt obligations. "Qualifying positions" include legal positions at a nonprofit organization or government agency with a specific maximum annual salary. Please contact the Office of Career and Professional Development at 608-262-7856 for more information.

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. 

14.9 Helpful Resources

For more information and assistance with understanding your loans and repayment options, please contact a member of the Admissions and Financial Aid team. The Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office is located in Room 6210, or you may call directly at 608-262-5914 or email at admissions@law.wisc.edu 

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