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Types of Financial Aid

There are various types of assistance available to law students. It is common that students pursuing a degree in law will utilize a combination of scholarships, loans and other special programs.


As the name suggests, loans are financial aid funds which must be repaid. Applicants interested in seeking loans should initiate the financial aid process by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA.

Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program

Effective July 1, 2012, Direct Stafford Loans for graduate and professional degree students are unsubsidized which means, interest accrues while you are in school.

The Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is a non-need based loan and may be offered up to a maximum of $20,500 per academic year. Effective July 1, 2020, the interest rate is a fixed 4.30%.

Students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), meet federal eligibility requirements, and enroll at least half time in a degree-seeking program.

The maximum aggregate for Stafford loans is $138,500, of which no more than $65,000 may be subsidized.

All first-time students at St. Mary’s accepting the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan are required to complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling Session online.

Repayment of this loan begins six months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment.

Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan

Graduate and professional degree students can borrow a Federal Direct Plus Loan to help cover education expenses. Effective July 1, 2020, the interest rate is a fixed 5.30%.

A student can borrow up to the cost of attendance less any financial assistance received. The student must submit a FAFSA form to determine eligibility for this Federally regulated program. Additional eligibility is based on credit-worthiness.

The Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling for this program should be completed through the Department of Education’s Direct Loan website.

Repayment of this loan begins six months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below least half-time enrollment.  The remaining balance on Federal Direct Loans may be forgiven if the borrower works in public service for a period of 10 years and has made the 120 qualifying monthly payments required by the lender.

Additional Alternative and Private Educational Loan Programs

Alternative and private loans usually require credit approval. Sources can be federal, state, or private.

Federal Student Aid

Federal Student Aid (FSA) is the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) central database for student aid. FSA receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of ED programs. FSA provides a centralized, integrated view of Title IV loans and grants so that recipients of Title IV Aid can access and inquire about their Title IV loans and/or grant data. All loan information will be submitted to FSA and accessible by authorized agencies, lenders, and institutions.

Special Funds

Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation

A direct funding loan program through the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation is available for graduate and law students who meet Texas residency requirements. Loans up to $2,000 per semester are granted to eligible students. Students must apply for funding the semester prior to the one that they will use the funds. Information about this loan and other scholarship aid is furnished by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation.

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund

This organization provides scholarships for students of Hispanic-American background. For information, please contact Hispanic Scholarship Fund, 1411 W. 190th St., Suite 325, Gardena, CA 90248, 1-877-HSF-INFO.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

Latino law students with demonstrated financial need may apply for scholarship funds.  For information, please contact MALDEF, 634 S. Spring Street, 11th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90014, 213-629-2512.

The Earl Warren Legal Training Program

This program provides scholarship and internship opportunities to qualified African-American applicants.  For information, please contact The Earl Warren Legal Training Program, 40 Rector Street, 5th floor, New York, NY 10006, 212-965-2200.

Military Opportunities

By special arrangement, law students may take Advanced Military Science (ROTC) and earn a commission in the U.S. Army while in law school.  Successful graduates may compete for active duty in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.  Address inquires to the Department of Military Science, St. Mary’s University, One Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, TX  78228, 210-436-3415.

Study Abroad

Student enrollment in a program of study abroad approved for credit by St. Mary’s University may be considered enrollment at St. Mary’s University for the purpose of applying for assistance under Title IV.