Prepping for Law School Financial Aid Forms

I'm sure this is just about the last thing in the world you want to be doing right now, but it's a good time to start pulling your documents together to prepare for your law school financial aid applications.

Here are some interesting stats from a recent post by Equal Justice Works:

It's no surprise... that most law students borrow to finance their legal education (88.6 percent according to a 2008 analysis cited by the report) or that they borrow a lot. (According to American Bar Association figures for the 2009-2010 academic year, the amount borrowed for law school averaged $68,827 for public law school graduates and $106,249 for private law school graduates.)

So unless the Bank of Mom & Dad is paying for your JD, you'll almost certainly be borrowing, and many of you will be applying for need-based aid from law schools as well. That means lots of forms to fill out. I know, yippee!

Some schools' financial aid application windows are very tight, so it's best if you start getting organized now. You should pull your tax returns from the previous year, and your parents should too. (You may not be filling out forms that require your parents' financial information, but many schools do require it for need assessments.) If you have savings or retirement accounts, own a home or a car, or have other outstanding student loans (for example from college or other grad school programs), you'll want to pull together that information as well.

Is there an upside to all this paperwork hassle? You bet, because this exercise will help you get a better handle on your finances. A highly readable and practical book I would recommend to you on financial planning for 20-somethings is I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt, No Excuses, No B.S. by Ramit Sethi. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. You can find more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions. Join the conversation here in the blog comments and on Twitter and Facebook, or email us a new question for the blog.