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Frequently Asked Financial Questions
1. When can I begin to apply for financial aid?
2. How do I apply for financial aid?
3. What is NIU's FAFSA School Code?
4. When should I start working on my FAFSA application?
5. Are financial aid applications accepted after the March 1st recommended deadline?
6. How do I make changes to my financial aid award?
7. What are the tuition and fees for NIU College of Law?
8. How much can I borrow for law school?
9. Which federal loans are available for me to borrow?
10. What is the current interest rate for the Federal Direct Loans?
11. What is the current interest rate for the Graduate PLUS Loans?
12. Are there any loans after law school to help with the costs associated with the state bar exam?
13. How many students usually obtain graduate or research assistantship positions?
You may fill out the FAFSA at any time. You may apply for financial aid once you receive your NIU z-id.
Step 2: Complete and submit the Free Application for Financial Student Aid at www.fafsa.gov. You will need your federal income tax return and W-2 forms to complete the FAFSA. You must have a Federal Student Aid personal identification number (PIN). Go to www.pin.gov if you do not already have a PIN. Be certain to select NIU (School Code 001737) as a recipient of your FAFSA.
Step 3: The U.S. Department of Education will send you your Student Aid Report (SAR). Review your SAR and, if necessary, make changes or corrections to your FAFSA.
Step 4: After you complete and submit the FAFSA, submit any other application or information requested by the SFAO. Your financial aid offer will then be posted to your myNIU account within a week, beginning around mid-March.
Step 5: If you are accepted to NIU College of Law, you will be sent directions that explain how to log onto myNIU.
Step 6: Log on to myNIU and view your financial aid awards.
Step 7: Decide how much to take out of each award type. Awards are broken down into three categories: scholarships, Federal Direct loans, and Graduate PLUS loans.
Scholarships: Because we place a strong emphasis on providing a quality legal education at an affordable price, we have a relatively small number of scholarships to award. Furthermore, if you have been awarded a scholarship, it will not appear in your myNIU account until later in the summer.
Federal Direct Loans: You may borrow up to $20,500 per year in Federal Direct Loans. The interest rate for these loans is 6.8 percent annually, and a 1 percent loan fee is deducted at disbursement. As of July 1, 2012, there is no longer a subsidized Federal Direct Loan available to graduate or law students: as soon as your loan is disbursed, interest begins to accrue. After you graduate, these loans have a six-month grace period before repayment begins. A Federal Direct Loan has forbearance and deferment options, may be consolidated, may be paid back under several different repayment plans, and may be eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Graduate PLUS Loans for Law Students: If you do not have adverse credit, you may secure the additional amount of aid for which you are eligible by applying for Graduate PLUS Loans. A Graduate PLUS loan is federally guaranteed, interest accrues while you are in school, and repayment begins following graduation. The interest rate is fixed at 7.9 percent, and a 4 percent loan fee is deducted from the disbursement. A Graduate PLUS loan has forbearance and deferment options, may be consolidated, may be paid back under several different repayment plans, and may be eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
The cost of attendance is re-calculated each academic year. For the 2013-2014 school year, the cost of attendance is $39,788 for in-state residents and $55,412 for out-of-state residents. This cost of attendance is the maximum amount of financial aid of any type you are allowed for a year, but it is by no means necessary that you take out the full amount. If you are an out-of-state resident, consider securing residency in time to become an in-state resident for your second semester. For information on residency requirements, please visit http://www.reg.niu.edu/regrec/residency/index.shtml. Also, you should carefully consider the cost of living and how much you will need. If you have received a scholarship, remember that this amount will be deducted from your total loan eligibility. Graduate PLUS loans will not show up on myNIU unless you decide to apply for them.
Step 8: If you choose to apply for a Graduate PLUS Loan, the application may be found at www.niu.edu/fa > Types of Aid > Loans. Complete and sign the application, and fax or email to the Student Financial Aid Office. Do not try to apply for a Graduate PLUS loan directly from the studentloans.gov website. After you apply for financial aid, the NIU Student Financial Office will send for a credit decision. It generally takes the office 2-3 business days to receive the credit decision. If your application is approved, the NIU Student Financial Aid Office will indicate your Graduate PLUS eligibility in myNIU.
Step 9: Accept or decline your awards. Your Federal Direct Loan eligibility amount will be viewable after you complete the FAFSA. Your Graduate PLUS Loan eligibility amount will be viewable about one week after you complete and submit the application.
Step 10: If you have accepted your unsubsidized Federal Federal Direct Loan eligibility, you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The link to the MPN can be found on the NIU Student Financial Aid Office web page at http://www.niu.edu/fa/fafsa/index.shtml, or you can access the link directly from the federal web site at https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/index.action.
Step 11: You must complete online entrance counseling for Graduate PLUS loans. The link to the entrance counseling can be found on the NIU Student Financial Aid Office web page. Additionally, you must complete an MPN for Graduate PLUS Loans.
Step 12: Your awards will be applied to your account. You will receive any excess aid in the form of a reimbursement during the first several weeks of classes. You will receive a refund check in the mail unless you have set up direct deposit.
The FAFSA is available each January at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Complete the form online as soon as possible. The priority deadline for completing the FAFSA is March 1st.
Absolutely. The online FAFSA is accepted until June 30th. The March 1st deadline is just a priority deadline.
All students can view and make changes to their financial aid awards on their MyNIU accounts at http://www.niu.edu/myniu/index.shtml.
Tuition and fees increase on a yearly basis. To help you determine the cost of attending NIU College of Law, use the NIU Bursar’s Tuition Estimator at http://www.niu.edu/bursar/tuition/estimator.shtml. In addition, NIU College of Law provides the estimate of tuition and fees here.
Qualified borrowers may borrow up to the cost of attendance as set by the Department of Education. The cost of attendance varies between universities and, for public law schools, it varies depending on whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. For an itemization of the student loan budget see Itemization.
Please see Types of Financial Aid.
For Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans disbursed after July 1, 2013, the fixed interest rate is 5.41%. Please see the various disbursement dates and attendant interest rates on our Interest Rates page.
For Graduate PLUS loans, the interest rate is fixed at 7.9%.
Loan assistance from private lenders is available to you for purposes of assisting with bar exam expenses, bar application fees, and associated living expenses. Bar loans are made payable directly to you and, because they are not a component of your financial aid package from NIU College of Law, you may choose to borrow from $500 to $15,000. These loans are commercial loans and are based upon your credit worthiness and, as such, the interest rate/fees will vary from lender to lender based upon your credit criteria. NIU does not recommend any particular lender; however, the following lenders have been used by other law students:
Law Student Loan Program
Citibank Law Student Loans
PNC Bar Study Loan
Wells Fargo Bar Exam Loan
As always, the NIU College of Law Office of Admissions & Financial Aid strongly encourages you to minimize borrowing. To this end, we encourage you to carefully think through the impact of borrowing additional money, because cumulative borrowing can significantly impact your post-graduation lifestyle for the ten or more years you will be in repayment.
Up to half of second- and third-year students have been known to have RA or GA positions.