Southwestern Law School offers a variety of financial assistance programs, including scholarships, loans, and work-study.
At Southwestern, our goal is to provide personal financial assistance and design a financial aid plan that meets your needs—allowing you to focus on your law school education.
In addition to information found on the links to the left, Entering and Continuing Students will also find pertinent Financial Aid information, policies, and documents on the MySWLAW student portal.
Applicants can help ensure their financial aid applications are given maximum consideration by carefully reading the financial aid guide on this site, following instructions on all financial aid forms, and submitting all materials to the Financial Aid Office or the appropriate agency in a timely manner. The Financial Aid Office staff are available to assist current and prospective students
The Higher Education Opportunity Act conditions the eligibility of educational institutions to participate in Title IV programs on the development of and compliance with a code of conduct prohibiting conflicts of interest for its financial aid personnel [HEOA § 487(a)(25)].
A Southwestern student is eligible to receive federal financial aid if the student:
- is enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student;
- is a U.S. citizen or national; is a permanent resident of the U.S.; provides evidence from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that he or she is in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a permanent resident or citizen (a copy of the green card may be required); or is a permanent resident of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands or Northern Mariana Islands;
- has financial need (for need-based aid only);
- is maintaining satisfactory progress according to the standards and practices of Southwestern as outlined in the Student Handbook;
- does not owe a refund on a Pell Grant, Perkins Loan or SEOG;
- is not in default on any student loan
The Financial Aid Office will determine aid eligibility once the office has received the student's FAFSA and all required supporting documents (see details below).
How To Apply
To apply for Federal Financial Aid, you will need to know the Southwestern school code of GO1295 and complete the following 3 steps on the Department of Education's website at www.studentloans.gov.
- FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- Graduate Student Loan Entrance Counseling
- Master Promissory Notes: Unsubsidized and/or Graduate PLUS
Important Financial Aid Deadlines
The deadline to complete the financial aid application process is:
- March 15 for Continuing Students, and
- June 1 for Entering Students.
NOTE: The March 2 deadline listed on the FAFSA for California is for Undergraduate State Aid and does not apply to students attending Southwestern Law School.
How Often Do Students Need to Apply?
Students must apply for financial aid each academic year they are in school. Certain documents must only be completed once, while others need to be filled out each year. Please see the information below or contact the Financial Aid Office for details.
Southwestern Law School is an approved institution for veterans' benefits and for active duty, vets, spouses and dependents who have eligible educational benefits by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Southwestern Law School is proud to participate in the Veteran Affairs' Yellow Ribbon program and agrees to contribute $10,000 per year to eligible veterans pursuing their J.D. degree. Southwestern will offer this scholarship to a maximum of 10 veterans per academic year on a first-come, first-served basis.
Go to the Department of Veteran Affairs for details about the Yellow Ribbon program and eligibility requirements.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA should be completed online each year and is available on October 1st of each year. This form must be completed by students applying for Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Institutional Loans, Federal Work Study (FWS) and/or scholarships. Southwestern's school code (G01295) must be indicated on the form.
Southwestern Financial Aid Application
All J.D. Continuing Students must complete the Financial Aid Application online each year.
Southwestern's Financial Aid Code of Conduct
The Higher Education Opportunity Act conditions the eligibility of educational institutions to participate in Title IV programs on the development of and compliance with a code of conduct prohibiting conflicts of interest for its financial aid personnel [HEOA § 487(a)(25)]. Southwestern's officers, employees and agents are required to comply with this code of conduct. The following specific provisions bring Southwestern into compliance with the federal law [HEOA § 487(e)].
- Neither Southwestern as an institution nor any individual officer, employee or agent shall enter into any revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender.
- No officer or employee of Southwestern who is employed in the financial aid office or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans, or agent who has responsibilities with respect to education loans, or any of their family members, shall solicit or accept any gift from a lender, guarantor, or servicer of education loans. For purposes of this prohibition, the term "gift" means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, or other item having a monetary value of more than a de minimus amount.
- An officer or employee of Southwestern who is employed in the financial aid office or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans, or an agent who has responsibilities with respect to education loans, shall not accept from any lender or affiliate of any lender any fee, payment, or other financial benefit (including the opportunity to purchase stock) as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement or other contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans.
- Southwestern shall not:
- for any first-time borrower, assign, through award packaging or other methods, the borrower's loan to a particular lender; or
- refuse to certify, or delay certification of, any loan based on the borrower's selection of a particular lender or guaranty agency.
- Southwestern shall not request or accept from any lender any offer of funds to be used for private education loans, including funds for an opportunity pool loan, to students in exchange for the institution providing concessions or promises regarding providing the lender with:
- specified number of loans made, insured, or guaranteed under Title IV;
- a specified loan volume of such loans; or
- a preferred lender arrangement for such loans.
- Southwestern shall not request or accept from any lender any assistance with call center staffing or financial aid office staffing.
- Any employee who is employed in the financial aid office, or who otherwise has responsibilities with respect to education loans or other student financial aid, and who serves on an advisory board, commission, or group established by a lender, guarantor, or group of lenders or guarantors, shall be prohibited from receiving anything of value from the lender, guarantor, or group of lenders or guarantors, except that the employee may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in serving on such advisory board, commission, or group.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan Master Promissory Note
This form is required for all first-time borrowers applying for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan and must be completed on the www.studentloans.gov website. Students only need to complete the MPN once while in attendance at Southwestern.
Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note
This form is required for all first-time borrowers applying for a Grad PLUS Loan and must be completed on the www.studentloans.gov website. Students only need to complete the MPN once while in attendance at Southwestern.
For more information on the complete awarding policy, see Southwestern's Financial Aid Policy.
Funds are considered in the following priority:
- Federal Direct Stafford Loans
- Federal Work Study
- Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
- Private Loans
Notifications of Awards
All students who have completed the financial aid application process by the published deadline will be notified via email of their award package.
Entrance and Exit Interviews
Prior to release of any federal funds, students are required to complete an entrance interview.
The federal government requires all federal student loan borrowers to attend an exit interview shortly before they graduate, withdraw from school, or take a leave of absence. Exit interviews may also be completed online.
The federal government requires all colleges and universities to offer Entrance and Exit Counseling for federal student loan recipients. Students only have to complete each of these once (for each federal loan type) while in attendance at Southwestern.
Types of Entrance and Exit Counseling Available:
- Direct Loan Entrance Counseling for Grad Students
- Direct Loan Exit Counseling
Students must complete entrance and exit counseling for each of the various loan types they will receive.
Additional questions regarding Entrance or Exit Counseling may be directed to the Financial Aid Office.
Disbursement of Awards
Institutional scholarships and loans, as well as Federal Perkins Loans, are credited to the student's account as soon as possible, but may take up to two weeks after the term commences.
Federal Direct Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loans are disbursed at least twice a year by check or electronic funds transfer directly from the lender. Refunds are disbursed on the Friday before classes commence each semester.
Any tuition or fees due to Southwestern are deducted from these disbursements. The difference, if any, will be available within ten business days or as prescribed by regulation. See above for refund details. You may sign up for Automated Refund Direct Deposit through WebAdvisor (Need Link) (go to Financial Information > Bank Information).
Every student has the right to appeal to the Financial Aid Committee if the student believes injustice or unfair treatment has occurred (except in those matters set by federal regulations or Southwestern policy) and cooperative action has not been provided by the Financial Aid Office. The Director of Financial Aid can provide guidance regarding the appeals procedure.
All materials pertaining to financial aid are confidential. Student permission (in writing) is required to release any information concerning all aspects of the financial aid process, except as provided by state or federal regulations, to a third party, including spouses or parents. This complies with the FERPA amendments.
Applying for Aid
Q: How do I apply for Financial Aid?
A: To apply for Federal Financial Aid, you will need Southwestern's school code (G01295) to complete the following 3 steps on the Department of Education's website at www.studentloans.gov.
- FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- Graduate Student Loan Entrance Counseling
- Master Promissory Notes: Unsubsidized and/or Graduate PLUS
Q: What is the deadline to apply?
A: The deadline to complete the financial aid application process is March 15 for Continuing Students and June 1 for Entering Students.
Q: Does the March 2 deadline listed on the FAFSA apply to me?
A: No. This deadline is for Undergraduate State Aid and does not apply to students attending Southwestern.
Q: What happens after I submit my FAFSA?
A: For students who have been accepted to Southwestern, the Financial Aid Office will begin processing financial awards in mid-February. Within 10 days of submitting your FAFSA, you will receive an email notification letting you know that your Award Letter has been processed and given instructions on how to view and "accept" your awarded aid.
Q: How do I sign my Master Promissory Note (MPN)?
A: You will complete and sign your Master Promissory note(s) on the www.studentloans.gov website. There are separate Master Promissory Notes for Unsubsidized Loans as well and Graduate PLUS loans.
Q: What if I already signed a Master Promissory Note in the past?
A: If you are a first-time Direct Loan borrower at Southwestern, you will need to complete a new MPN. You will only need to complete the MPN once during your attendance in law school.
Q: What if I already completed loan entrance counseling in the past?
A: First-time Direct Loan borrowers at Southwestern will need to complete a new loan entrance counseling. If you already completed entrance counseling while enrolled at Southwestern, then you do not have to complete entrance counseling again.
Q: How are my private loans handled?
A: If you are signing for a Private Non-Federal Loan, you will need to sign for this loan EACH year that you are requesting this type of loan. Prior to taking out a Private Loan, however, you should speak with the Financial Aid Office to see if you may be eligible for a Federal Grad PLUS loan instead.
Q: What is Verification?
A: Verification is a process in which students may be requested to certify the accuracy of information reported on the FAFSA. Students who are selected for verification will be notified about the required documentation and deadlines.
Disbursement of Aid
Q: What will my award letter include?
A: The award letter will identify all aid which a student requested to be considered for when they completed the FAFSA and for which he/she is deemed to be eligible.
The award letter will indicate eligibility for student loans (including both Stafford and Grad PLUS Loans), Federal Work Study and scholarships.
NOTE: If your Award Letter lists the Grad PLUS loan, it means that you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for the loan, but it does NOT mean that you've already been approved for the loan. Credit Approval is required for the Graduate PLUS Loan.
Students who wish to take advantage of the aid which has been offered must complete an acceptance process online (via the student portal) before their awards will be processed.
Q: What if I need to adjust my award?
A: During the award letter confirmation process, entering students should indicate any changes and/or reject any types of aid they do not wish to receive.
Continuing students who wish to make an adjustment to their aid package (either to cancel a particular type of aid or to reduce the amount of aid) should submit a Loan Change Form to request those changes. The Loan Change Form is available on the student portal or can be picked up in the Financial Aid Office.
Q: When will I receive my award?
Students will receive an email notification letting them know they can view their financial aid package approximately 7 days after they have submitted all documents to the Financial Aid Office. Students will be contacted when/if additional documentation is required.
Q: When are my funds disbursed?
A: Funds are disbursed the Friday prior to classes beginning. We must internally post the funds to your account once we determine you are eligible (registered, completed entrance counseling and enrolled in the minimum number of units). Once your tuition has been paid in full, the remaining balance will be disbursed to you in the form of a check, or direct deposit if you have elected that option.
Q: When will I get my refund?
A: Refunds are disbursed the first Friday before classes commence each semester.
Q: What happens if my funds get delayed
A: Should there be a delay in your financial aid refund, an interest free loan advance of up to $2,000 per term is available beginning on the first day of classes for that term. You must be registered and have submitted all your Financial Aid documents to be considered.
Q: What if I need more money?
A: If a student feels that they will need more aid than what was initially offered to them, they should visit the Financial Aid Office to discuss a budget increase. In certain cases and with specific documentation, a student MAY be eligible to increase their Cost of Attendance.
Q: How do I sign up for direct deposit?
A: You may sign up for Automated Refund Direct Deposit through WebAdvisor (go to Financial Information > Bank Information).
Q: Can I get my books prior to the start of classes?
A: We suggest that you utilize a credit card to purchase your books. "Book Vouchers" may be provided to students who are receiving sufficient financial aid to cover the cost of books. This allows students to charge your books to your Student Account while you are awaiting financial aid for the term. Book Vouchers are available approximately 1 week prior to classes beginning. You must be registered and have completed all your financial aid documents to be considered for this option.
Q: What about my living expenses?
A: In creating the cost of attendance (budget) for all students, the Financial Aid Office considered what a typical student would spend on living expenses, including rent, food and utility expenses over the course of an academic year. These estimates are applied across-the-board to all students who apply for financial aid.
Q: Does the Cost of Attendance account for purchasing a laptop?
A: With proper documentation, students are allowed a one-time increase in their Cost of Attendance for the purchase of a laptop (Maximum of $2000). Students can pick up a Budget Increase Application in the Financial Aid Office.
Q: Do you have payment plans, and if so, how many different payments can it be split up into?
A: The school offers a payment plan option whereby students make 5 monthly payments per semester. The first payment in each semester would be due the month prior to the start of the new term. There is a fee of $50/semester to take advantage of the payment plan option. For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office.
Q: What types of scholarships are available?
A: The school offers a number of institutional scholarships, including the Wildman/Schumacher Scholarship Program for Entering Students, and the Dean's Merit Award for Continuing Students. Information is also available online regarding other scholarship programs and essay contents that a student may apply for to defray costs. This information is updated regularly to reflect opportunities as details become available. Questions should be directed to the Admissions Office regarding the Wildman/Schumacher Scholarship, and to the Financial Aid Office for all other scholarship opportunities.
Q: What if I receive Veteran Benefits?
A: Students receiving Veteran Benefits can utilize those funds to help cover expenses at Southwestern. Students will need to speak to the VA Certifying Official in the Financial Aid Office and complete additional forms in order to begin receiving their benefits.
Q: Is a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program available?
A: Yes, the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was established in 2007. Under this program, Federal student loan borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of their Federal Direct Loans after making 120 qualifying payments on those loans while employed full-time by certain public service employers. For more information about Public Service Loan Forgiveness contact FedLoan Servicing as well as through http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/PSLF.
Q: What if I have bad credit?
A: Credit checks are not involved when a student applies for Stafford Loans. However, credit checks are required when a student applies for a Grad PLUS Loan. Approval for Grad PLUS Loans is not based on the student's credit score. Rather, it's a much simpler review to determine whether or not a student has an Adverse Credit History (examples include recent bankruptcy, foreclosure, repossessions, etc.). The absence of these particular items means a student would be approved for the loan. In the event that a student is denied as a result of their credit check, they would be given an opportunity to secure an endorser (a.k.a. co-signer) in order to obtain loan approval. In some instances, institutional loan funds are available.
Q: Will I need a co-signer?
A: Students only need to obtain a co-signer if they are denied a Grad PLUS Loan. If so, the lender will contact the student and inform them of the right to secure an endorser (co-signer) in order to obtain loan approval. Once a co-signer is approved, the student will need to complete another promissory note that links to the co-signer's note and will also need to complete a mandatory PLUS counseling session. Students will not need a co-signer in order to obtain a Stafford Loan.
Q: What if I can't get a co-signer?
A: Institutional loans may be available in the event you cannot obtain a co-signer. Please note, however, that institutional loans are not federal loans and are not eligible for federal consolidation.
Q: Will you need my parental information?
A: All students enrolled in a graduate program are considered to be independent for purposes of completing the FAFSA application, so no parental information will be required.