Funding Options

Funding Your Law Degree

Just as each law student is unique with a unique budget, there is a variety of ways that students can fund their law degree. Most Detroit Mercy Law students finance their education through a combination of graduate student loans and lines of credit (including both federal and private loan programs), scholarships (both Detroit Mercy Law Scholarships and external scholarships), and income from employment or savings.


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    U.S. Federal Loans

    The U.S. Department of Education offers low-interest loans to eligible students to help cover the cost of law school. Federal student loans are an investment in your future but we do encourage students to only borrow what they need. There are two types of federal student loans for which law students are eligible:

    • Direct Unsubsidized Loans eligibility is not based on financial need. There is both an annual limit and an aggregate limit. 
    • Direct PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate or professional students that pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify.

    Federal student loans offer many benefits compared to other options you may consider when paying for college:

    • The interest rate on federal student loans is fixed and usually lower than that on private loans—and much lower than that on a credit card!
    • You don’t have to begin repaying your federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time.
    • Federal student loans offer flexible repayment plans and options to postpone your loan payments if you’re having trouble making payments.
    • If you are employed in the public sector post-graduation while making qualified loan payments, you may be eligible to have a portion of your federal student loans forgiven.

    Federal Loan Comparison

    Students often take out both the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Graduate PLUS Loan. But we always start with the Direct Unsubsidized Loan as it has more favorable terms as shown in the table below.

    Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Graduate PLUS Loan
    Type Direct Unsubsidized Loan Graduate PLUS Loan<
    Annual Limit $20,500 Up to the cost of attendance minus other aid
    2021-22 Interest Rate* 5.28% 6.28%
    Current Loan Origination Fee** 1.057% 4.228%
    Accruing interest while in school Yes Yes
    Credit Check Requirement No Yes
    Endorser/Cosigner required No Sometimes, depending on credit history
    Repayment/Grace period 6 month grace period (no payments are required) after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half time (at Detroit Mercy half-time is 6-credits in fall & winter and 3-credits in summer). There is no grace period but you’ll automatically get a six-month “deferment” after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time. No payments are required during the 6 month deferment period.


    *Congress sets the yearly interest rates (July 1 – June 31) based on the 10-year Treasury note. This is typically set between May 1 and June 1 each year.

    **The origination fee is the processing fee that the Federal Department of Education deducts from your loan prior to disbursing the funds to the College/University.


    Private Loans

    Students can also apply for private, credit-based loans to cover all or a portion of their cost of attendance. Comparing the various loans can seem overwhelming, therefore, the University has an excellent tool called ELMSelect that helps students compare a few private lenders who have been reviewed by a University-wide committee. This comparison tool assists students in the information-gathering process. 

    This list is not exhaustive. You are not required to borrow from one of the lenders listed here. We acknowledge that you may be offered more favorable terms from lenders you find elsewhere. You may choose to borrow from any lender without penalty.


    Comparison of Federal and Private Loans

    Federal student loans are made by the government, with terms and conditions that are set by law, and include many benefits (such as fixed interest rates and income-driven repayment plans) not typically offered with private loans.

    In contrast, private loans are made by private organizations such as banks, credit unions, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations, and have terms and conditions that are set by the lender. Private student loans are generally more expensive than federal student loans.

    The chart below provides a summary of the differences.

    Federal Student Loans vs. Private Student Loans
    Subject Federal Student Loans Private Student Loans
    When payments become due Payments aren’t due until after you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time. Many private student loans require payments while you are still in school, but some do allow you to defer (put off) payments while in school.
    Interest rates The interest rate is fixed and is often lower than private loans—and much lower than some credit card interest rates. Private student loans can have variable or fixed interest rates, which may be higher or lower than the rates on federal loans depending on your circumstances.
    Credit check You only need to get a credit check for the Graduate PLUS loan. For PLUS loans, the Department of Education will check credit before determining eligibility. Learn how someone with an adverse credit history may qualify for a PLUS loan. Private student loans often require an established credit record or a cosigner.
    Tax benefits Interest may be tax-deductible. Interest may be tax-deductible.
    Consolidation and refinancing Loans can be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan. Private student loans cannot be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan but may be refinanced.
    Postponement options If you are having trouble repaying your loan, you may be able to temporarily postpone or lower your payments. You should check with your lender to find out about options for postponing or lowering your loan payments.
    Repayment plans There are several repayment plans, including an option to tie your monthly payment to your income. You should check with your lender to find out about your repayment options.
    Prepayment penalties There is no prepayment penalty fee. You need to make sure there are no prepayment penalty fees.
    Loan forgiveness You may be eligible to have some portion of your loans forgiven if you work in public service. Learn about loan forgiveness programs. Most private lenders do not offer loan forgiveness programs.

    US Loans for International Students

    Non-U.S. citizens do not qualify for U.S. Federal Financial Aid programs unless the applicant is also a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. (holder of a Green Card). 

    1. If you do not qualify for U.S. federal student aid we encourage you to check with your home country to see if loans to study in the U.S. are available.
      • Canadian students should contact their appropriate Provincial and Territorial Student Assistance Office for information on loans, scholarships, and bursaries for studying in the US.
      • Many of our students who are Canadian citizens take out a line of credit through one of the Canadian banks. For more information, visit the Government of Canada's page on Student Lines of Credit.
    2. Next, some U.S. lenders offer credit-based educational loans to international students if they apply with a credit-worthy U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen co-borrower. If you are able to secure a qualified co-borrower we urge you to do so and consider loans of this type, because approval and more favorable terms will be more likely. ELMSelect is a good place to start.
    3. If you are an international student seeking to borrow without a co-borrower you will find fewer lenders from which to choose. The lender listed below does not require a U. S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen co-borrower, however, their interest rates and other terms may be less favorable. Certain restrictions apply as noted.
      • MPower Financing: Offers loans to eligible international students, who are enrolled in a degree program and are within two years of graduation.

    Canadian Provincial Loans

    University of Detroit Mercy is an approved professional university outside of Canada. We suggest Canadian applicants contact financial aid/loan institutions in Canada their appropriate Provincial and Territorial Student Assistance Offices for information on loans, scholarships, and grants. 

    Please see the list of Canadian Provincial Financial Aid Departments listed on the Applying for Financial Aid page.


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    1L Detroit Mercy Law Scholarships

    For details regarding Detroit Mercy Law Scholarships for incoming students, please refer to the scholarship section of our page. These scholarships are made at the time of admission or by the admission committee at the time of or shortly after admission. The financial aid office is not involved in the initial awarding of these scholarships.


    1L External Scholarships

    There are external scholarships specifically for first-year law students. We will update this page as more scholarships are brought to our attention. In order to be eligible for most scholarships, applicants are required to submit an offer of admission. The scholarship funds are typically sent directly to the University to be applied to a student's tuition and fees unless otherwise indicated on the scholarship. 

    There are additional scholarships posted on the current student financial aid scholarship page. Some of these scholarships are open for graduating seniors, incoming law students, and current law students.

    Scholarships are listed by the application deadline.

    July Deadline

    • Dwyer Williams Cherkoss Attorneys, PC is pleased to announce a scholarship available to students anticipating law school in the Fall of 2022. The $1,000 scholarship is intended to help defray first-year expenses. Deadline July 1
    • Patrick Malone & Associates' "Representing Real People" Scholarship:  Patrick Malone & Associates is offering two scholarships of $5,000 each to law students committed to a career representing individuals. The goal is to make a dent in the high cost of law school for students who want to represent individuals, to make it a little easier to choose such a career path. Deadline July 1
    • Bey & Associates, LLC is offering a $1,000 scholarship to students who are planning to attend their first year of graduate school in the upcoming fall semester. To apply, you must submit a 500+ word essay in response to this topic: What does leadership mean to you and what are your personal goals regarding being a leader within your community? Deadline July 16
    • Sutliff & Stout is sponsoring a nationwide scholarship contest of $1,500 for minority students pursuing a legal career beginning in Fall 2022. To apply, you must submit an essay answering the following question: How will your law degree help your community?  Deadline July 29


    • Bennett Jones is offering a scholarship in support of Black, Indigenous and First Generation Law Students entering into their first year of law school. This is for first year of full-time study at a J.D./L.L.B. program at an accredited Canadian law school. The scholarship is $10,000 per year and is renewable throughout law school. Deadline August 1

    Please note that these sites are not affiliated with Detroit Mercy Law and therefore Detroit Mercy Law cannot verify the accuracy of their content.


    Detroit Mercy Upper Level Scholarships

    In upper-level years, there are additional scholarships (both Detroit Mercy and external) that are students are available. Detroit Mercy Law awards a variety of institutional scholarships to upper-level students each year, including Dean's Scholarships for academic excellence, leadership scholarships, and endowed scholarships.


    External Scholarships for All Law Students

    The financial aid staff members work closely with the Career Services & Outreach team and the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department to assist current students in applying for external scholarship funding. There are various external scholarships available for students once they have begun their first year of law school.

    External Scholarship Databases

    The following databases may be helpful to you in locating resources outside of Detroit Mercy that match your interests and background. Please note that these sites are not affiliated with Detroit Mercy Law and therefore Detroit Mercy Law cannot verify the accuracy of their content.

Student Employment Programs

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    Federal Work-Study Program

    Students who demonstrate financial need may be employed at Detroit Mercy Law through the Federal Work-Study program for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the regular academic year. Students desiring a work-study award are encouraged to submit their FAFSA before April 1 each year as funds are limited. Law students who qualify for work-study funds may find positions at the School of Law as a library assistant, office assistant, teaching assistant, research assistant, or clinic assistant or in law-related jobs with nonprofit agencies.

    Due to the study demands of the 1L curriculum, most first-year law students choose to decline their federal work-study. If a federal work-study position is declined, students may convert those funds into federal loans.

    The standard work-study award is $3,000 for the academic year or $1,500 per term.


    Non-Work-Study Employment

    For students who are not eligible for federal work-study, there are opportunities for employment as teaching assistants, research assistants, and clinical assistants. There are limited positions available for students in their upper-level years.

Payment Plans

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    Monthly Payment Option (CashNet)

    University of Detroit Mercy offers this payment option to help you afford your education expenses. You may enroll in the Interest-Free Monthly Payment Option, which allows you to maximize your savings and income by spreading your education expenses over interest-free monthly payments.

    The Interest-Free Monthly Payment Option allows you to choose 10 or nine monthly payments if enrolling for the academic year, or five or four monthly payments if enrolling in a semester plan. These convenient options eliminate larger annual or semester payments. Your only cost is a $60 enrollment fee for the full year or a $35 fee for each semester. You will have toll-free access to knowledgeable and friendly education payment counselors six days a week and automated account access every hour of every day. 

    Please note that credit/debit payments to Cashnet Payment Plans will be charged a 2.75 percent convenience fee.

    Detroit Mercy offers these services in partnership with Cashnet Payment Plans

    The payment plan can be accessed through My Portal