A Breakdown of Aid & Contribution Calculations
Students are expected to exhaust their savings and other financial assets (determined at the beginning of Law School) by contributing one-half in their first year and the remaining half in their second year. Students must conserve the assets anticipated for use in the second year; the Law School’s second year financial aid calculation will assume that these assets are available. This schedule of expenditure (as opposed to one requiring all assets to be consumed before any grant aid is offered) is designed to lessen the financial impact of withdrawal from the Law School after the first year. It is also designed to back-load loans and thus reduce the interest that accrues. Additional assets acquired during Law School are considered to be fully available to meet Law School expenses.
The determination of the expected summer contribution for continuing students is based on the following steps:
1. The calculation of gross earnings based on the weekly rate of pay applied to the number of weeks worked:
- Gross earnings for students who split compensated employment between two employers will be derived by calculating an average weekly income for all weeks worked then applied to the actual number of weeks worked up to the 12 week maximum.
- Gross earnings for students who work beyond twelve weeks will be derived by calculating an average weekly income for all weeks worked applied to the maximum of 12 weeks only.
2. The calculation of net earnings based on a 30% adjustment to the gross to account for federal, state, local income tax and FICA.
3. The exclusion of the first $7,500 of net summer earnings to be retained by the student to meet summer living expenses.
4. Net income in excess of the $7,500 exclusion will be considered as available to meet academic year expenses and will be termed the summer employment contribution.
Summer contributions of $2,500 are imputed to students in all classes who choose not to work during the summer. We expect that students entering the Law School will contribute the higher of a summer contribution calculated by the formula above or $2,500.
Continuing students interested in summer public interest and government employment should consider the Law School's programs of direct support for such work through Summer Public Interest Fellowships (SPIF). Students who participate in SPIF generally do not have a summer contribution as their SPIF grant is less than or equal to the $7,500 exclusion.
Term-time income in excess of $1,000 will be considered as an asset to meet financial need. Seventy percent of net income in excess of $1,000 will be applied first to replace any unmet summer contribution expectation, parental contribution that is not in fact available, or to meet expenses in excess of the basic budget. If no such shortfall exists or if the net income exceeds the shortfall, the income (or that portion in excess of the shortfall) will be used to reduce loan and/or grant eligibility. Net income less than $7,200 will be used to reduce loans; income in excess of $7,200 will reduce grants.
- For current 1Ls and 2Ls-adjustments for any term time employment completed during the current 2015-2016 academic year will be factored into your next academic year (2016-2017) aid award. Students will report their term-time income on the 2016-2017 Need Access application (Note: those students who opt not to complete Need Access (i.e. loan consideration only) will be asked to supply this information separately on an addendum to their Notification and Confirmation form. Students whose income exceeds the parameters outlined in the policy above will see a calculation for term time income on their 2016-2017 aid award letter in their student contribution (along with any existing assets and summer earnings contributions). As such, students should plan accordingly knowing that any income derived in 2015-2016 may affect their 2016-2017 aid award.
- For 3Ls-students will receive an e-mail at the beginning of the Spring 2016 term requesting that they report term time employment for the current academic year 2015-2016. Based on this data, students will be informed if a term time adjustment of their aid is required. If so, 3L students will have the choice of 1) having funds adjusted directly off their student account or 2) having the adjustment made in the amount of COAP eligible loans they have incurred while enrolled. By offering two options, students who cannot afford to lose direct funds in their spring term have the option of the COAP adjustment.
Please Note: The American Bar Association law school accreditation rules limit term-time employment to twenty hours per week. The Law School strongly discourages first term students from taking jobs. All students must complete a Term Time Employment Verification form during the school year as requested by the Financial Aid Office.
Need more information and examples?
For those students applying for grants, the Law School will take into account all resources available to meet the cost of their education, including, to some extent, family resources. (Please note: for students applying only for loans, parental resources are not considered) The Law School considers family resources on a sliding scale, based on the age of the student:
- If the student is 26 or younger on December 31st of the academic year for which the student is applying for financial aid, a parental contribution (as described below) will be expected. Parents’ information must be submitted to Need Access and to the Law School.
- If the student is 27 or 28 on December 31st of the academic year for which the student is applying for financial aid, the expected parental contribution will be decreased by 50%. Parents’ information must be submitted to Need Access and to the Law School.
- If the student is 29 or older on December 31st of the academic year for which the student is applying for financial aid, no parental contribution will be expected. Parents’ information does not need to be submitted to Need Access or to the Law School.
Expected Parental Contribution Calculation
The expected parental contribution is calculated based on the information in the Need Access application. The Need Access methodology for measuring parents' relative financial position is based on the concept of "available income." Available income is defined as that income available to the family to meet its economic needs after deductions from the parents' total taxable and nontaxable income for the following: U.S. income and social security (FICA) taxes; state and other taxes; medical and dental expenses; employment allowance (if appropriate); elementary and secondary tuition expenses; and minimum living expenses.
The remaining income is considered available for the family's discretionary use, and a percentage of this available income is calculated as a reasonable contribution toward educational expenses. This calculation of available income also takes into account a number of factors like parental income, age, retirement needs, home equity, assets, family size, and whether both parents are working. As the amount of available income rises, the percentage considered available for education expenses also increases. This amount is then divided among family members enrolled in full-time higher education programs to determine the expected parental contribution.
Students who actually receive only part or none of the expected parental contributions may increase the amount that is being borrowed (generally through the GradPLUS loan) to make up the shortfall. These loans to support the parent contribution will generally be covered by COAP.
***Please Note: Students whose parents are divorced or separated must submit a Need Access analysis for both natural parents.
- Spouse is full time enrolled student (including a fellow YLS student): no contribution assessed
- Spouse is documented unemployed: no contribution assessed
- Spouse is a stay-at-home parent due to childcare responsibilities: no contribution assessed (a $6,000 living allowance for spouse is also added to the Cost of Attendance in this circumstance)
- Spouse is gainfully employed: a contribution based on the gross income according to the schedule below:
Spousal Contribution Table
|Gross Income||Spouse Contribution|
|$50,000 to $65,000||15% of income|
|$65,000 to $80,000||$9,750 plus 30% of income over $65,000|
|Over $80,000||$14,250 plus 60% of income over $80,000|
It is the student's responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office of any changes to the spouse's employment status during the academic year at which time an aid award adjustment may be made. The Financial Aid Office will also request documentation to verify the spouse's status as unemployed, full time student or primary childcare provider.
Students may opt to borrow additional loan funds to compensate for the calculated spouse contribution up to their Cost of Attendance. However, any additional borrowing for this purpose will not be eligible for the COAP program.
The Law School expects all students to finance a portion of their education with loans. We strive to minimize and equalize our students’ debt load. We allocate our grant resources to students with the greatest financial need and use a formula which increases the proportion of grant as total need increases.
In 2015-2016, students were expected, depending on the class year, to meet the first $42,000, $43,000 or $44,000 of their need with loans. (Unit loan amount determinations for 2016-2017 will be made in February 2016). Students whose total need is less than this amount will normally receive only loan assistance. Students whose need exceeds this amount will receive grants. Further need, which exceeds the basic budget, is usually met in the form of additional loans.
While law school debt may seem daunting, all YLS graduates are eligible to apply for the Law School’s post-graduate loan forgiveness program (COAP).
As the borrower, you have the ability to:
- Choose what type of student loan you wish to borrow to fill your calculated unit loan contribution. Several types of loans are available and the most common types (which will be auto packaged on your aid award) are the Federal Direct Unsubsidized and GradPLUS loans (see loan details below). Since Yale University participates exclusively in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program there is only one lender, the Department of Education for these federal loans. There are also numerous private loans available and you are free to select the lender of your choice (indicating as such on your Notification and Confirmation form). We encourage students to carefully weigh the benefits of each loan program including interest rates, repayment plan flexibility, forgiveness terms, fees, etc. when making your loan selection, as these factors vary significantly between loan products.
- Decide how much or how little of the loan offer you wish to accept. You are not obligated to borrow the full loan amounts that are included in your aid award letter. Based on your personal needs, you can decline any portion or the entire loan offer. If you do decline, you retain the right to re-accept the loan offer at any point during the academic year. As such, we encourage you to think carefully about your own budget and the loan amounts you will actually need.
Types of Loans
Federal Direct Loans
Note: Based on the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 federal student loans now have market term interest rates set specifically for each academic year. Once these rates are established they carry as a fixed rate for the life of the loan. These rates are based on the 10-year Treasury bill rate (as of June 1 annually) plus the following add-ons: Direct Unsubsidized Loan +3.6% and Direct Grad Plus Loan +4.6%.) The YLS Financial Aid Office will notify both newly admitted and current students of these interest rates annually in early June.
Federal Direct student loans include the Direct Unsubsidized loan and the Direct Grad PLUS loan:
Federal Direct Unsubsidized
Federal Direct Grad PLUS
For Both Federal Unsubsidized Loan and Grad PLUS Loan
You have the ability to consider a private loan to meet your unit loan obligation or if you need additional funding for educational expenses after you have exhausted potential scholarship, work study and federal loans. Private student loans are offered by private lenders, such as banks and credit unions. Unlike federal loans, which are guaranteed by the federal government, private student loan terms vary from lender to lender. It is important to ask questions when deciding to borrow a private loan so that you can compare the terms and choose the best one that fits your needs. Terms you may wish to assess include: interest rates (fixed vs. variable), lender fees, grace periods, deferment and forbearance options, as well as ease of access and customer service.
Please note: private loans are not eligible for federal loan forgiveness programs, although they are covered by Yale Law School’s COAP loan forgiveness program.
As with any student loan (federal or private), you are not required to take the full amount, please consider how much you will really need. You will then need to select a lender and apply for the loan. Instructions for how to do this can be found on the lenders’ websites. Once the loan has been approved by your lender, you will then need to complete the Notification and Confirmation Form which is available on the Forms section of the website. The Financial Aid Office will then need to "certify" your private loan (i.e. attesting both to your enrollment and to the fact that the loan will not exceed your need based Cost of Attendance awarded aid).
For additional information on private loan options, we encourage you to review Yale's alternative loan list.
Yale Law School grants:
Grants provided from the Law School's institutional resources and through the generosity of our endowed scholarship funds are awarded solely on the basis of the institution need based aid calculation as outlined above.
The Law School does not give merit-based or criteria-based scholarships. The maximum possible grant is the amount of tuition. The same need based calculation applies to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and international students, who are reviewed for eligibility for institutional scholarships in the same manner.
Special or endowed scholarships, such as those listed in the Law School Bulletin, are awarded only to students with demonstrated financial need and do not increase the recipients awards. Questions to assess a student's eligibility for specific endowed scholarship criteria are included on the Need Access form and, as such, no separate application is necessary. If the student is notified that their institutional need-based scholarship was supported through one of our endowed funds, they will be asked to submit a resume and a thank you acknowledgment to the fund donor for stewardship purposes. Students may also have opportunities to meet or otherwise thank donors directly.
Grants are distributed by crediting 50% each term to the student's term bill account.
Scholarships and grants from outside sources:
Scholarships or grants from outside sources will be applied first to reduce the loan portion of a Yale Law School award up to 50% of the student's unit loan amount and second to reduce any institutional grant/scholarship awarded. Note: if a student is not a recipient of an institutional grant/scholarship, than 100% of outside support would be applied against loans. Regardless of the size of the outside scholarship, you must notify the Financial Aid Office of the source and amount of the award as soon as possible.