Western New England University School of Law is committed to making a legal education affordable for our students through a combination of:
Federal and private loans
Over the past three years, an average of 75% of Western New England University law students received scholarships and 90% received some form of financial aid overall. Law school is an important investment, and we will work with you to assure that you have the resources available to you to finance your legal education. This section provides information on scholarships, loans and work-study awards.
For information regarding the Scholarship Retention Data for Western New England University School of Law, please click here.
All applicants are automatically considered for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Academic Scholarships as part of the admissions process. However, there are some additional scholarship opportunities (indicated by an * below) through our Centers and Institutes that require the submission of additional materials in order to be eligible for consideration. Details about those requirements are listed in the application.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Scholarships -- The Holmes Scholars Program is a full-tuition scholarship program designed for students who have demonstrated academic excellence. These are students who typically score in the top twenty-five percent of the LSAT nationally and finish near the top of their undergraduate classes. This scholarship will automatically renew each year provided that the recipient remains in good academic standing.
Academic Scholarships -- Academic scholarships are partial tuition scholarships awarded to students whose academic accomplishments promise strong performance at law school and in legal practice. This scholarship is renewable each year. To retain the entire scholarship, recipients must remain in the top 70 percent of their class.
*Public Interest Scholarships -- The Public Interest Scholars Program is designed for students who are committed to pursuing careers in Public Interest law. Each year the School of Law awards significant tuition scholarships and one-time $3,500 summer stipends for qualifying public interest experiences to six entering students. The scholarship portion of the award is renewable each year provided the recipient stays in good academic standing. These students are assigned faculty advisors to mentor them in course selection, clinical and externship options, and career paths. To be considered for the Public Interest Scholars program, students must submit their resume, an essay addressing his or her interest in and qualifications for entering the Public Interest Scholars program, and may be asked to participate in an interview process. Apply for the Public Interest Scholarship via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via your admissions application.
*The Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholarship -- The Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies serves as a focal point for work in a broad number of areas relating to gender and sexuality, ranging from civil rights issues affecting women and sexual minorities to feminist and queer theory. The Center works to engage with the legal community, with the University, and with members of the School of Law on core issues of gender and sexuality across a broad spectrum of law, including criminal law, immigration, employment, family law, health law, discrimination, prisoners’ rights, legislation, leadership and business and international and comparative law. To be considered for the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholarship, you must submit a statement of interest explain why you believe you are a good choice for the scholarship program. This scholarship award may be renewed anually provided that the recipient remains in the top 70 percent of their class.
*The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs Scholarship -- The Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs offers students the opportunity to participate in activities relating to the legislative process. Through participation in the Institute, students engage in the practical application of law by assisting public officials in drafting legislation, exploring the codification and progressive development of laws, and examining recently enacted bills. To be considered for the Institute for Legislative and Governmental Affairs Scholarship, you must submit a statement of interest explain why you believe you are a good choice for the scholarship program. This scholarship award may be renewed anually provided that the recipient remains int he top 70 percent of their class.
While the scholarships listed above are for entering students only, all of our law students are also eligible to receive numerous other scholarships, some of which are awarded by the School of Law and some by other organizations. Please note that some of these scholarships are for returning students. Examples of scholarships made available by the generosity and support of alumni/ae and friends of the School of Law are:
Marjorie A. Sullivan Endowed Memorial Scholarship -- This endowed scholarship, named after a beloved longtime Registrar at the School of Law, can be granted to applicants who have demonstrated unusual determination in overcoming obstacles in order to pursue a legal education.
The Pellegrini Family Endowed Scholarship -- These scholarships, established through the generosity of Gerard L. Pellegrini L'57, can be awarded to both full- and part-time students with demonstrated financial need.
A complete list of these scholarships, with a full description of their terms and eligibility conditions, is here.
Several examples of scholarships supplied by outside organizations are:
New England Employee Benefits Council -- This scholarship is for graduate students pursuing a career in the employee benefits field and is a renewable award of up to $5,000 per year. Scholarships will be based upon an applicant’s demonstrated academic performance and employee benefit career aspirations and goals. Completed applications and supporting materials must be postmarked no later than April 1. For more information, please visit the Office of Financial Aid or contact the New England Employee Benefits Council at: (781) 684-8700 or http://www.neebc.org/.
Rhode Island Bar Foundation Scholarship -- This award, the “Thomas F. Black, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund,” is a one year, non-renewable award for full-time students who are Rhode Island residents entering their first year of law school. The objective of this scholarship program is to support high legal practice standards by providing financial assistance to students who show promise to become outstanding lawyers, who will adhere to such high level standards, and who demonstrate a need for financial assistance in order to study law at a quality institution. Scholarship awards shall be exclusively for tuition and related expenses for students who enroll in programs leading to the LL.B or J.D. degree offered by schools located in the United States or the District of Columbia and accredited by the American Bar Association. The awards will be made on the basis of demonstrated good character, scholastic achievement, and financial need. http://www.ribar.com/.
National Federation of the Blind -- These awards are presented exclusively to persons who are legally blind. The Federation’s program will bestow 30 scholarships upon high-achieving legally blind students, in amounts ranging from $3,000 to $12,000. Please note that most scholarships will go to full-time students, but one may be awarded to a part-time student who is also employed full-time and who is going back to school to improve his/her professional opportunities. Applications are available on the web site listed below and must be postmarked by March 31. Visit the National Federation of the Blind on the web at: www.nfb.org/scholarships.
Law students are eligible for graduate student loans, and these loans are available to you in your individual capacity. As a law student, you will be evaluated for eligibility for financial assistance as an independent adult individual, not as a dependent student.
Although there are many options from which to choose, most law students currently use two types of loans to pay for their legal education: William D. Ford Direct Loans (often referred to as Stafford loans) and Grad Plus Loans. Because Western New England University School of Law participates in the federal government’s direct lending program for both loans, you will be able in most cases to obtain the loans directly from the federal government, with Western New England University acting as the approved agent for the government. See: www.studentloans.gov
William D. Ford Direct (Stafford) Loans -- These loans are available in amounts up to $20,500/year (less origination fees of approximately 1.073%) at a fixed interest rate of 6.21 percent.
Direct Grad PLUS Loans -- These loans are available to meet your remaining financial needs. Provided at a fixed interest rate of 7.21 percent, the maximum loan amount is calculated based upon your approved budget minus the amount of any scholarships and the Ford Direct Unsubsidized Loan. The budget amount for 2015-2016 is $62,802 for full-time students and $51,955 for part-time students.
While Direct Grad PLUS loans are credit-based, the credit standards for the Direct Grad PLUS loans are not as stringent as for private loans. Our experience has been that most law students have qualified for Direct Grad PLUS loans. You may complete your Grad PLUS application at www.studentloans.gov.
How To Apply?
Because these loans are need-based, the process starts with a determination of financial need by the Financial Aid Office and involves the following steps:
1) File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form – You submit the FAFSA to our Financial Aid Office as an individual, supplying your own individual financial information. As a law student, you do not need to fill out the parental information. Western New England University School of Law's FAFSA code is 002226. This form can be completed any time after January 1. However, it is important to note that applicants who file taxes are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the IRS data retrieval tool in order to efficiently populate your FAFSA form with verified tax information. In order to take advantage of this tool, you must file your prior year tax forms prior to filling out your FAFSA. Therefore, it will be beneficial to tax-filing applicants to file their taxes as soon as possible.
2) Determination of financial need -- Using the FAFSA, scholarship information and the calculation of expenses, the Financial Aid Office determines your financial need and provides you with a financial aid letter.
Income-Based Repayment and Loan Forgiveness
As a result of the University Cost Reduction Act of 2007, discussed in more detail here, repayment of all federal student loans is capped at 15 percent of your adjusted gross income and, if you work in a government or public interest position after law school, your loan balance is forgiven after 10 years of such employment (and 120 monthly loan payments). The income-based repayment and loan forgiveness provisions of this important law apply only to federal loans and thus become a major factor supporting the selection of federal direct, as opposed to private and state, loans.
To find out more information on Income-Based Repayment and for an Income-Based Plan Calculator, please visit the Federal Student Aid site.
Equal Justice Works and American University's Washington College of Law have produced an informative podcast: "How to Figure Out if You Benefit from the University Cost Reduction & Access Act - and How Much?"
Direct Grad Plus Loans and Private Loans
Law students enrolled at least half-time may borrow the remainder of their financial aid budget after the maximum Ford Direct Loan award is reached. These loans are credit-based loans. You should do comparison shopping, comparing the following features:
1. APR which balances fees and interest rates
2. Repayment Period
3. Interest rate capitalization frequency
You should also be aware of the fact that only the Direct Grad Plus loans are eligible for the income based repayment caps and loan forgiveness. Additionally, the credit standards for the Direct Grad Plus loan are less stringent than for private loans. However, some private loans may at some times have lower interest rates.
The federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan is credit history based with no debt to income test. With no negative credit references, the loan is approved. The fixed rate through the University is 7.21 percent with an effective origination fee of 4.292 percent. Repayment is deferrable while in school.
Visit ELM Select for more details regarding private loans. Many loan sites provide repayment calculators with various options from which to choose. These can be very helpful when deciding what type of loan and repayment is best for you.
Private and State Loans
Prior to the development of the direct lending program in 2006 and the enactment of the University Cost Reduction Act in 2007, most law students with loans in addition to the $20,500 Direct Loan took out loans from private lenders. However, the number of students with private loans has declined sharply in the past two years, due to these two developments. Most loans from private lenders are variable rate loans and, as mentioned above, they are not eligible for income-based repayment or loan forgiveness. However, private loans are the right choice for some students, and there are many good private lenders. We provide a list with contact information on private lenders that have worked successfully with Western New England University School of Law students and our Financial Aid office here.
In addition to federal and private loans, public and quasi-public entities in many states also offer graduate loans to residents of those states.
Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Educational Finance Authority (MEFA), offers graduate student loans
Many other jurisdictions have similar lending programs
Federal Work-Study Assistance
The School of Law offers federal work-assistance to law students who work in legal positions with approved entities during the summer after their first and second years of law school. Eligibility is need-based, and positions are limited. Students work with our Career Services Office to determine the best placement for them.
Administration of Financial Aid
Most aspects of financial aid (other than scholarships) are handled by the Financial Aid Office which, at Western New England University, is part of Student Administrative Services (SAS). You will file your FAFSA with SAS and receive your determination of financial need from them. You will consult with them about loan applications (whatever the type of loan), and loan proceeds (whether from a direct federal, private, or state loan) will be sent to and disbursed by SAS.
The contact information for SAS is:
Western New England University
Student Administrative Services
1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119-2684
Phone: 413-796-2080 or 800-325-1122 ext. 2080
SAS also is in charge of billing and payments, including online bill payment and handles the disbursement of financial aid funds to students. As a general matter, providing that all financial aid elements are in place, SAS will be able to generate refunds (of loan funds in excess of tuition and fees) for FALL loans for pick-up 5-7 business days after loans are disbursed. The Fall disbursements are held at SAS for pickup, since many local addresses are not established with sufficient certitude. SPRING refunds will be ready during the first week of classes of the Spring semester. The Spring semester disbursements will be held for two weeks after classes begin, at which time they will be mailed to local addresses.
SAS also operates a bank and cashes personal checks up to $75 and administers the food point system for food services on campus.
What does the first summer bill show?
The first bill for the upcoming academic year shows estimated tuition and fees. Any adjustments of tuition and fees due to changes in status will be posted in the next bill, after classes commence.
Why is there a Health Insurance charge?
Per Massachusetts law, any student who registers for more than an established minimum of credits must carry health insurance. The University, by default, will provide health insurance and charge the student on the first bill of the academic year. Students are given an interval during which they can waive the University's coverage and avoid the charge. To waive the insurance, you must go online at the Health Services Forms link.
Once the waiving period is over on August 1 and University coverage is initiated, the health insurance charges cannot be reversed.
How do we arrive at the Estimated Pending Financial Aid that shows on the bill?
The bill reflects aid that the School of Law has awarded and other external scholarships or loans of which we are aware. The School of Law's award may be tentative pending receipt of required documentation and may change prior to the start of the semester. Actual disbursement of the final scholarship and loan award may depend on completion of a number of steps, including signed award letters, completed promissory notes, loan interviews and completed verification worksheets. Students will receive notices from our office detailing any missing items.
What needs to be paid, and when?
The net balance due, after Estimated Pending Aid, is due by the due date noted on the bill, unless the bill reflects a Prepayment Plan. Bills for Plan participants indicate the monthly amount due. After the due dates, that portion of charges not covered by aid and loans is subject to a monthly finance charge of 1 percent.
What is the billing schedule?
Bills that reflect anticipated charges for the fall semester are mailed in June. Prepayment Plan participants are billed on a monthly basis thereafter. All others will not be billed again until after classes begin and aid is posted. Bills are printed on a monthly basis once classes begin. Bills for the spring semester charges are mailed in early December.
When will financial aid be posted to the account?
All financial aid and federal loans are posted once classes begin. The first bill generated after classes start should reflect all aid and loans posted to the account. These items will not appear in the Pending Aid section after posting to the account. Private loans are disbursed the week prior to classes beginning.
When will loan disbursements be available?
Refunds of excess financial aid and/or private loans are disbursed via checks at the SAS Bank on the following schedule. If all financial aid elements are in place, SAS will be able to generate refunds from for private loans for pick-up on August 25th, the first day of classes. These refunds will be processed automatically and held at the Bank for pickup, since local addresses may not be sufficiently certain at that time. Refunds from University administered aid (typically Grad Plus loans) will be generated automatically by September 5th and held at the SAS Bank for pickup. To request a refund at other times, call a Student Services Administrator (SSA) at 413 796-2080. Federal regulations require refunding, within 14 days, any credit balance due from Federal disbursements greater than the mandatory charges on the student's account, unless the student requests the credit remain on the account.
What if some aid does not post to the account after classes start and remains in the Estimated Pending Financial Aid portion of the bill?
Aid items will not post to the account and will remain listed as pending aid if a required step pertaining to a particular aid item is missing. Contact the SAS office to determine what must be done if aid items do not disburse.
What if the aid does not post to the account after classes start and disappears from the Estimated Pending Aid section of the bill?
If aid did not post, and the Pending Aid section is now blank, this indicates that the entire financial aid application process is incomplete. In this case, the University's awarded aid is suspended until the problem is corrected. Any portion of the bill not covered by a University Payment Plan is past due by the second bill, and may be subject to finance charges. Call the SAS office to determine what must be done.
Are there other payment options?
The Payment Plan spreads a year's payments over 10 or 12 months. The Early Payment Plan can be used to lock in the current year's tuition rate for future years. Use this link to Payment Plans for more information. If you need to finance a portion of the balance due, click here for a discussion of private loan options beyond the award letter. Remember that you need to plan for the entire year's charges, not just a semester's.