Bar Study

Bar Information

Students are encouraged to set aside earnings throughout law school for their bar study expenses. Earn while you learn opportunities offered at AUWCL, in addition to external employment, may provide some or all of the savings needed to help off-set the additional expenses that cannot be covered by financial aid.

Saving throughout law school to minimize additional borrowing is an investment in your own future success. For those students who need additional financial resources, a limited number of private lenders offer bar study loans designed to assist graduating law students with financing expenses such exam fees, bar application fees and living expenses. While these loans are not part of your academic year financial aid, they must to be certified by AUWCL Financial Aid Office in order to verify your expected graduation date. Most bar study loans are capped at $15,000 and this figure may also be utilized by those planning to save for related expenses with an understanding that factors such as the location of the exam and where one lives may impact the funding needed.

Please note: Enrolled students should confirm that they have exhausted their financial aid eligibility for the current academic year prior to pursuing a private bar study loan. Federal regulations allow for an increase in the Cost of Attendance (COA) for bar exam fees in the final year of a student's JD program, however other bar study expenses cannot be added to the AUWCL COA. Only JD students/graduates of AUWCL can be certified by the Financial Aid Office; LL.M students must go through their JD institution.

What is the approval process for bar study loans?

Bar study loan approval is credit-based and at the discretion of each private lender’s criteria. General criteria include:

  • The borrower must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.

  • Borrowers must be enrolled in a law school program or have recently graduated.

  • The borrower must satisfy credit criteria. If the borrower does not have satisfactory credit, a creditworthy co-signer may be required.

  • Total indebtedness, including the bar loan, does not exceed the lender specified cap, if any.

How much am I eligible to borrow?

Bar study loan caps vary by lender generally ranging from $12,000 - $15,000. Many students find that borrowing $10,000 or less is sufficient to meet their expenses. Borrowing as little as possible in bar study loans is recommended as they are not eligible for loan forgiveness or consolidation, income-driven repayment, and the AUWCL Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP).  

Students are encouraged to set aside earnings throughout law school for their bar study expenses. Earn while you learn opportunities offered at AUWCL, in addition to external employment, may provide some or all of the savings needed to help off-set bar exam related expenses. Saving throughout law school to minimize additional borrowing is an investment in your own future success.

Will I need a co-signer?

If you do not meet the lender established credit criteria, you may be asked to add a co-signer to gain approval. Additionally, the lender may suggest adding a credit worthy co-signer to lower the interest rate on the loan.

When should I apply for a bar study loan?

Students typically apply for the bar study loan during their final year of the JD program. Since the loan is disbursed directly to the borrower, the borrower is able to set up the disbursement dates and number of disbursements for the loan. Borrowers are encouraged to take advantage of the multiple disbursements to assist with budgeting and reduce interest accrual.

What is the interest rate?

Since this is a private loan, the lender will set the interest rate. Interest rates may be fixed or variable.

How do I determine which lender is best?

The AUWCL Financial Aid Office does not recommend lenders. You are encouraged to review each lender’s website and determine which lender is best for you based on the terms of the loans and your personal financial information, including indebtedness and credit history.

I have completed the application and was approved. What do I do next?

Send an email to the AUWCL Financial Aid Office to notify of your approval. Please include your name, AU ID number and the lender.

When will the loan disburse?

Disbursement of bar study loans is based on the disbursement date(s) you select when applying for the loan. The borrower chooses the disbursement date(s) for the loan on the application and the loan check(s) will be mailed directly to the address you provide. In general, the process will take a minimum of two to four weeks from the time that you submit your application and are approved until the receipt of your (first) disbursement.

The AUWCL Financial Aid Office does not provide a preferred lender list for bar study loans. The list provided below in alphabetical order assists students in finding a lender and represents lenders from which AUWCL JD graduates have borrowed in the past. Loan criteria are subject to change without notice; therefore, it is important to contact the lender directly for the most accurate and up to date information. Follow the links below to view interest rates, borrowing limits, fees, and repayment terms.

PNC Bar Study Student Loan

Sallie Mae Bar Study Loan   

Many state or local bar associations offer awards to assist in defraying the cost of the bar exam or living expenses incurred during the study period. You are encouraged to research and/or contact organizations in the state in which you plan to take the exam, in addition to your state of residence, to determine if funding may be available.

Below is a list of bar study awards offered by external organizations to assist in off-setting bar-related expenses. The awards are subject to change at any time by the organization(s). The list is not exhaustive, and will be maintained and updated as needed. Please note that the application deadlines vary and some may not be available until next academic year.

AccessLex Scholarship Databank
The AUWCL Financial Aid Office partners with AccessLex, which provides a searchable scholarship databank for students pursuing legal studies. AccessLex is responsible for maintaining the accuracy of the scholarships posted and the awards are not affiliated with American University Washington College of Law. To access bar study scholarship opportunities from the link above, click "Scholarships," then filter for Scholarship Type: "Bar Study."

Alford Excellence Award
The Delaware State Bar Association’s Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section will award a $3,000 scholarship to future practitioners planning to sit the Delaware bar.

BARBRI-WCL Preferred Provider Tuition
All WCL graduating students are eligible for the BARBRI/WCL preferred provider partnership rate of $1,095 for the Guided Pass course (plus the refundable book deposit of $250). Enroll online by April 1, 2024, and enter promo code “BAR1095” at checkout to secure this rate. To access the Ultimate Pass course, students may enter the promo code “AUWCL”  by April 1 online for a preferred provider partnership rate of $2,295.

Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers
Awarded to a deserving full-time or part-time law student who will take the Florida Bar Exam for the first time and who has promoted the CFAWL mission through CFAWL membership and/or volunteer work. This student will have demonstrated leadership and involvement on his or her campus and in the general community.

FMCBA Bar Study Scholarship
F. Malcolm Cunningham, Sr. Bar Association (“FMCBA”) awards scholarships to well-deserving third-year African American law students. The Association provides scholarships to offset bar examination preparation expenses, for economically disadvantaged students who demonstrate a commitment to excellence.

Northwest Indian Bar Association
NIBA offers bar stipends to Native law students who are: (1) set to graduate, or have graduated, from an accredited law school, (2) registered for the Winter or Summer Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, or Washington State bar exams, and (3) intend to work in the field of American Indian law or policy in the Northwest.  

Orange County Women Lawyers Association
OCWLA Foundation is pleased to provide the Bar Stipend Award to worthy law students about to take the bar exam.  Offered twice a year, the award is given to the student(s) that best exemplifies the mission of OCWLA, and a commitment to scholarship, community service, advancement of women or women’s issues, financial need, and to Orange County.

Orange County Women Lawyers Association Diversity Stipend
The Diversity Bar Stipend Award is given to a recent law school graduate with a minority ethnic background and achievements and contributions in scholarship, community service, and advancement of diversity or diversity issues. Financial need and connection to Orange County are also considered.

Oregon Diversity Bar Examination Grant Application
The grant is subject to qualifying for and taking the Oregon State Bar Examination. Applicants must possess a combination of the following: alignment with the Diversity and Inclusion Department Mission, academic achievement, and financial need.

Vernellia R. Randall Bar Exam Grant
The Vernellia R. Randall Grant (also known as the Bar Exam Grant) is available to parents with children under the age of 18. Recipients must be in their last year of law school and intend to practice law in Oregon. The grant honors Vernellia R. Randall, who made a lasting contribution to the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation and has played a significant role in the effort to give women and minorities greater access to the justice system.

WOW Bar Prep Scholarship Application
In 1993, the Women of WSAJ (WOW) section was established to encourage female-identifying members to exchange ideas and create mentorship relationships with other female attorneys to further the mission of WSAJ. To support aspiring female-identifying plaintiff's attorneys, WOW provides women law school graduates and APR 6 law clerk graduates with scholarships to help defray the costs of bar review courses. The applicant must also be preparing the take the Washington State bar exam in the next year.

Sarita and Claire Wright Lucas Foundation Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to a graduating law student preparing to take the Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland or Pennsylvania Bar Exam. SCWLF awards $5,000 scholarships to African-American female law students for bar application and preparation. The Scholarship program also offers a $5,000 incentive for scholarship recipients who secure employment as prosecutors.

WSAJ Diversity Bar Prep Scholarship
WSAJ is committed to implementing strategies that will result in significant and measurable progress towards increasing diversity in the plaintiff's bar. To help achieve this endeavor, WSAJ has pledged scholarship monies to assist diverse individuals in covering the tuition cost of a Themis bar preparation course. Diversity refers to individuals who self-identify with those groups historically discriminated against and/or those groups that are historically under-represented in the legal profession based on disability, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

WSAJ LGBTQ Bar Prep Scholarship
In December of 2016, WSAJ created its LGBTQ section, a group open to all WSAJ members to focus on LGBTQ issues in the law, as well as to provide a safe, open and honest environment for LGBTQ members to discuss and confront issues that arise in their day-to-day practices and legal communities. To support aspiring plaintiff’s attorneys from the LGBTQ community, the section raises funds from its membership to provide scholarships to help defray the costs of a Themis bar review course to law school graduates and APR 6 law clerk graduates who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise self-identify as a part of the queer community.

Federal regulations allow for an increase in the Cost of Attendance (COA) for bar exam fees. The COA adjustment results in increased loan eligibility and requires additional borrowing to cover the cost. This is a one-time adjustment during the final year of the JD program. While the cost of the Bar examination itself can be included in the cost of attendance, most other expenses including bar prep courses and summer living expenses are not included. For all related policies and requirements, please review the request form online here.

The AUWCL Financial Aid Office can assist with questions about bar study loans and budgeting. For questions about bar preparation, the exam and associated fees, please contact the AUWCL Office of Academic Excellence.