Preparing for Graduation and Loan Repayment

As you prepare to graduate and begin your legal career, you may have questions about managing your student loans during repayment. We hope the information below helps clarify the process and next steps but please contact the Office of Financial Aid with any questions, including post-graduation.

Bar Exam Funding

The Financial Aid Office can offer 3L students additional student loan funding to help cover the cost of registering for the bar exam or purchasing a new computer for the bar exam. The cost of attendance for 3L students will automatically include an allowance for bar exam registration expenses, which can be covered with additional Graduate PLUS loan funding. Reminders about this option will start being sent out to 3L students in the Student Services weekly newsletter beginning in January each year but students can always contact the Financial Aid Office at with any questions.

Some lenders offer alternative/private Bar Study loans to graduating 3L students to help cover the costs of studying for and taking the bar exam. However, students should first research outside scholarship or sponsorship options before using loan funding. Students going into a public interest role post-graduation can begin researching Bar Study scholarships using the AccessLex’s Scholarship Databank, though these options would most likely only cover exam and/or bar review course costs. Additional funding for bar review course expenses may be available through BarBriThemis, and Kaplan.

Bar Study loans are often made on the basis of credit and can range from $1,000 up to $15,000. Students will need to apply for bar loans directly through the lender of their choice and the funds are typically paid directly to the student during the summer post-graduation. UChicago Law students have used the following Bar Study loan lenders in the past:

You can find more information about Bar Study loan options online at and These Bar Study loan websites are external sites and are not an inclusive list of Bar Study loan options; the Office of Financial Aid does not endorse any particular loan over another and we encourage students to research lenders as well as terms and conditions to find the best fit.

Federal Exit Counseling

Graduating 3L students who borrowed a federal student loan while at the Law School will receive an email from the University a few weeks after the start of their final Spring quarter with more information about federally-required loan exit counseling. This exit counseling will review the terms and conditions of your loans as well as the various repayment options available. Finally, it will assist you with developing a strategy to repay your loans based on your future goals and individual circumstances.

Students who take a leave of absence or withdraw from the Law School will also be required to complete federal loan exit counseling. You will receive an email from the University soon after your leave of absence or withdrawal has been processed by the Registrar's Office.

Federal Student Loan Repayment

There are a variety of repayment plans available that can fit any financial situation. Alumni who have borrowed and are repaying federal loans should visit the Federal Student Aid website to review the terms and conditions of the various repayment options, as these options can change from time to time. 

Borrowers are defaulted into the Standard plan but you can change your repayment plan at any time based on personal circumstances and financial goals; contact your federal loan servicer for more guidance on repayment plans, due dates, payment methods, etc.

Fixed Payment Repayment Plans

These federal student loan repayment plans are based on the amount borrowed, the interest rate, and selected plan's repayment length. Federal Direct Consolidation loans may have a longer repayment period under the fixed payment repayment plans. More information about the fixed payment repayment plans can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

  • Standard 10-Year Repayment
  • Graduated Repayment
  • Extended Repayment

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans

These federal student loan repayment plans are based on your family income, family size, state of residence, and the selected plan's repayment percentage. More information and comparisons of the IDR plans can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE)
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE)
    • Not available for new borrowers after July 1, 2024
  • Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)
    • Not available for new borrowers after July 1, 2024

All of the IDR plans list above, except for Income Contingent Repayment (ICR), are qualifying plans for the Law School's LRAP.

When Does Repayment Start?

Once you have graduated, your loan repayment will typically start six months later, lining up with the expiration of your federal loans' grace period. For UChicago Law students, loan repayment typically begins the December following graduation but the actual due date will be determined by your federal loan servicer. Your servicer will contact you a few months after graduation to choose and set up your repayment plan. If you do not actively choose a repayment plan, you will default into the Standard 10-Year Plan. Remember though that you can change your repayment plan at any time.

Choosing a Repayment Plan

We recommend using AccessLex's Student Loan Calculator or the Federal Student Aid Loan Simulator to compare your various repayment plan options. Borrowers all have different financial goals based on personal circumstances and the federal student loan repayment options allow for an individualized repayment strategy. You may want to pay off debt as quickly as possible to reduce the total amount of interest, or pay more slowly to maximize your available income, or you may want the flexibility of a lower monthly payment on an income-driven repayment plan, with the option of making additional payments targeting your higher interest rate loans. All of these strategies are possible with the federal student loan repayment options available.

Public Service Loan Repayment Considerations

The Law School remains committed to public interest careers and loan forgiveness. Alumni who enter into public service, including clerkships, have additional institutional options available to assist with loan repayment.

Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)

The University of Chicago Law School's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is intended to help alleviate the debt burden of our graduates who work in public interest. The LRAP supports students in a broad range of public interest, government, and nonprofit jobs with a generous $80,000 salary cap, no consideration of spousal income or other assets, coverage of monthly payments on UChicago Law student loans being repaid under an eligible federal income-driven repayment plan, and annual forgiveness of the LRAP funding for up to ten years after graduation. In addition, our LRAP covers judicial clerkships - even if you do not continue in the public sector after your clerkship. Finally, we strive to keep the terms and conditions, as well as the application process, as straightforward as possible.

The Law School posts information about the LRAP application process on the Alumni Services website. The LRAP award year runs each calendar year and application for an LRAP award year is typically posted to this website the prior October. The Law School will follow up with potentially-eligible alumni in October and November each year about the LRAP application process for the following year, so it's imperative that you keep your contact information updated with the Office of Career Services, as well as by submitting the contact update form available on the Alumni Services website.

The Law School continues to evaluate our current LRAP program in light of any potential changes to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) program or federal repayment plans. 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

If you are employed by a government or not-for-profit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Department of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments (10 years total) under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. 

LRAP works in conjunction with PSLF but they are two entirely separate programs. The terms and conditions built into LRAP means that an alum participating in LRAP for the full ten years following graduation should be on track to receive forgiveness under PSLF at the end of that ten year period. However, certain LRAP-eligible positions, like international NGO's, may not be eligible for PSLF. Additionally, changes or pauses in your career during the ten years following graduation would not extend your eligibility for LRAP even though you may still be on track for forgiveness under PSLF. We recommend contacting the Office of Financial Aid if you have any questions.

Postgraduate Public Interest Law Fellowships

The University of Chicago Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Law Fellowships are awarded to a limited number of competitively chosen graduating JD students who develop public interest fellowship projects with public sector host organizations. Thanks to the generosity of alumni funders, each Fellow is awarded $60,000 to work full-time for one year following graduation at an eligible public service host organization on public interest legal issues such as welfare rights, affordable housing, domestic violence, immigration, workers rights, special education, environmental protection and juvenile justice.

Consolidation and Refinancing

There is a difference between the two. Consolidation is the process of taking some or all of your federal student loans and turning them into one, new Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. This is still a federal student loan and is eligible for all of the repayment plan options and federal deferment, forbearance, and forgiveness options. But there are some considerations when consolidating your federal student loans and it may not always be necessary. Some of the pros and cons are outlined on the above Federal Student Aid website.

Refinancing is the process of taking some or all of your federal student loans (and/or private student loans, should you have those), and turning them into one, new private student loan that you borrow through an outside organization or lender. Once this process is completed, you cannot move any refinanced federal student loans back into the federal student loan program because your new refinance loan would have paid off those federal student loans. Refinancing may be a great option for some borrowers but we encourage you to review the terms and conditions of the refinance loan and be sure that you no longer need the repayment and forgiveness options available under the federal student loan program. Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions.

There is currently no program to refinance federal student loans into new federal student loans with a lower interest rate. Additionally, private student loans, including refinanced student loans, are not eligible for the Law School's LRAP.

Private Student Loan Repayment

Repayment on private student loans is fully overseen by the lender through whom you borrowed the loan, or the servicer assigned to your loan by your lender. Contact that lender for more information on the terms and conditions of repayment, as well as to confirm when your first payment is due. Private student loans are not eligible for the Law School's LRAP.

Additional Resources

The sections below provide more information about additional loan repayment resources and other financial wellness tools. 

Additional Loan Repayment Resources

You can find a broad range of guidance and topics on loan repayment at the websites linked below, including the repayment options, refinancing versus consolidation, the timeline between graduation and the start of loan repayment, how to make a payment, and short-term relief through deferment and forbearance options.

Financial Wellness Tools

The Law School has a variety of financial wellness tools outlined on our website, including information about managing credit, student loan repayment calculators, and tax information.