How do I get a Bar Exam Loan?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2020
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Getting a bar exam loan is usually as simple as choosing a lender and filling out an application. The costs associated with sitting for the bar exam are high, and the bar loan market is robust. Law graduates who are wondering how to pay for their bar studies should be careful not to jump at the first offer of money. There are many loan options, and some are much more favorable than others. Choosing the right bar exam loan is often more challenging than getting one.

A good first place to look when considering a bar exam loan is your law school’s financial aid office. In the United States, most federal financial aid packages do not cover bar exam expenses, but many can be extended for that purpose. Your school’s financial aid representative will be able to tell you whether any loans you already have can be applied to the bar exam, and will be able to point you towards other aid packages that you might be eligible for.


Many private foundations also offer loans specifically for bar exam expenses. Foundation loans usually offer very favorable interest rates and more generous grace periods than federal loans, but getting a foundation loan is usually much more competitive. The availability of foundation loans often depends on your law school, what sort of law you want to practice once you pass the examination, and where you live. Your bar review representatives and school financial aid representatives should be able to give you more information about foundation loans.

Most U.S. banking institutions also offer bar exam loans. Many of these loans can be applied for online simply by providing a social security number, contact information, and one to three references. The annual percentage rates, penalties for late payments, and loan durations vary from bank to bank, and depend on individual credit history.

Deciding how much you want to borrow will often dictate which bar exam loan is best for you. Most loans, be they federal, foundation, or bank, present in terms of the maximum borrowable amount. If you determine that your projected expenses will be less than the maximum amount, you may be able to negotiate better terms by borrowing less.

Borrowing less is always a good idea from a fiscal perspective, particularly when interest rates are high. Jobs in legal practice typically pay well, but it is important to remember that a law degree does not directly translate into a paycheck, and finding the right job can take time. Not everyone passes the bar exam the first time, either. Some bar exam lenders will toll interest payments or allot grace periods for payback if the borrower has not found a job, but not all will. It is important to approach the bar exam loan application with a realistic idea of how you will pay the loan back, and an understanding of the lender’s exact terms.



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