What are Bar Study Loans? [Choose the right bar study loan from our top 5 lenders]

All law students who are looking to practice law need to clear the bar exam. There are a number of costs and expenditures associated with the bar exam, here is an in dept study o how to cover these costs by using bar study loans. Choose from the top 5 lenders listed and much more.

Updated by Chandni Agarwal on 27th August 2020

Opting for the bar exam comes with several fees and costs, which opens the need to cover these costs and expenses. Not everyone is fortunate to have enough money for the bar exam preparation fees, and bar study loans can help you cover these expenses and come as sources of financial assistance. 

Are you facing trouble understanding bar study loans? Or having any doubt in your mind how to decide the lender. Here is an in-depth study on bar study loans, how it works, where the student will get the bar loan, what it covers, and the alternatives to bar loans.

Table of contents

What are Bar Study Loans?

To cover the cost of preparing for and taking the bar exam, you can apply for Bar study loans, which are private student loans.

The interest rate and the fees can be higher as compared to federal student loans. You should also have a perfect credit score or a co-signer who has a very good credit score to get approved for the loan.

You can apply early for the loan to avoid any issues with the deadline associated with the bar exam.

Five Best Bar Study Loan Providers

As discussed above, the bar exam loan fees are not a small amount that everyone can afford. Many lenders provide bar exam loans with their terms and conditions. 

Every Student or borrower should know the available options, their terms, and conditions in a particular way so that they can choose the best suitable option according to their financial situation.

Position Lender
1 Discover
2 PNC Bank
3 Wells Fargo
4 Sallie Mae
5 Lending Tree

These are few lenders who provide bar exam loans to the borrowers. Let us know in detail about the terms and conditions of each of them.

1) Discover

Many people don’t know that Discover provides student loans other than the credit card facilities. It almost covers everything from your undergraduate degree to the cost of your bar exam preparation course. 

Students who maintain good grades are rewarded by Discover, the only student loan provider to offer such a reward. These are specific terms and conditions of the Discover Bar Exam Loan.

Borrowing amount - The amount what you can borrow with Discover varies from $1000 to the total cost attendance (100%)

Repayment terms- up to 20 years

Application Criteria

  • The borrower must be 18 years or above (16 years with a co-signer)

  • Must be a U.S citizen, permanent resident or international student

  • Should be enrolled at least half time at an eligible school

  • Must have satisfactory academic progress

  • Must be seeking a degree

APR- 4.74% to 12.49%

Contact Details

Website: https://www.discover.com/

Phone number:



(1-800-347-2683) (English/Espanol)

Outside .U.S.

1-801-902-3100 (English/Espanol)



Email: [email protected]


Customer Service General Inquiries:

Discover Financial Services

P.O Box 30943

Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0943

2) PNC Bank

PNC is best suited for military service members who are looking for extra discounts and deferment options. With a low rate of interest, you can borrow a high amount. These are certain terms and conditions of the PNC Bank Bar Exam Loan.

Borrowing Amount - The borrowing amount in PNC Bank starts with a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $225,000 

Repayment term- 15 years

Application Criteria-

  • Must have a co-signer or meet PNC Bank’s credit guidelines

  • Must have two years of strong credit history

  • Must have two years of steady income or employment history

  • Must have a proof of income or be in a business for at least two years if self-employed

  • Live in the U.S for at least the past two years

  • Must be U.S citizen or permanent resident

  • Must be an undergraduate student

  • Must be enrolled at least half time in an eligible school

APR - 5.03% to 11.23%

Contact Details-

Website: https://www.pnc.com/en/personal-banking.html

Phone number: 1-800-762-1001

Email: [email protected]

Address: You can find them over 2,400 locations and 15,000 ATMs across 37 states and the District of Columbia

3)Wells Fargo 

Wells Fargo is best suited for the existing Wells Fargo customers for interest discount. The current customers can qualify the discount rate up to 0.5%. These are certain terms and conditions of the Wells Fargo Bar Exam Loan.

Borrowing Amount - The borrowers can borrow up to the maximum amount of $120,000 

Repayment term - Upto 7 years

Application Criteria- 

  • Must have an excellent or at least a good credit score

  • Or else a co-signer who can meet the credit and income requirements

  • He borrower must be at least 18 years or above

  • Must be an American Citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.

APR- 4.8% to 11.26%

Contact Details-

Website: https://www.wellsfargo.com/

Phone number: 1-800-869-3557

Address: Wells Fargo education financial services

P.O Box 5185

Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5185

4) Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is best suited for the students with good credit or have a creditworthy co-signer looking for low rates. You can choose from the available 8 options for undergraduate, law students and more. These are certain terms and conditions of the Sallie Mae Bar Exam Loan.

Borrowing Amount- The borrower can borrow up to 100% of the total cost

Repayment term- 15,20 years

Application Criteria-

  • Must be 18 years old

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

APR- 2.75% to 10.22%

Contact Details-

Website: https://www.salliemae.com/

Phone number: 1-800-472-5543

Address: 300 Continental Dr #4322, NEWARK DE 19713

5) Lending Tree

It is the best option for the borrower who wants to get connected to multiple lenders with one application. Let lenders compete to give you affordable rates on your student loan. These are certain terms and conditions of the LendingTree Bar Exam Loan.

Borrowing Amount- In this case the amount varies from one to another

Repayment term- As like the borrowing amount the repayment term also vary from one lender to another

Application Criteria- 

  • For the dependent student, their parent (step-parents or adopted parents) must be the co-signer

  • The co-signer must be the U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen and provide the co-signer must have a Social Security number

  • The c-signer must pass a credit check

  • The co-signer cannot be in default or any other federal student loan or owe any federal student aid program

  • The student must be enrolled at least half time

  • The student must be less than 24 years of age

  • Students must have no dependents

  • The student cannot be in default or any other federal student loan or owe any federal student aid program

APR- 3%

Contact Details-

Website: https://www.lendingtree.com/

Phone number: 1-800-813-4620

Address: 11115 Rushmore Drive Charlotte, NC 28277 USA

How does Bar Exam Loan work?

A student loan specifically designed to help them cover the cost of preparing for and taking the bar exam is called Bar exam loans. Some lenders name it as a bar study loan.

How much should you borrow?

During the final year of your law school or within six months to a year after you graduated. Many of the lenders offer $1,000 to $15,000. How much you will qualify for depends on how much student debt you are carrying. An aggregate student loan limit of around $180,000 is set by most of the lenders.

How much will it cost?

Most of the bar exam loans don’t come with application forms or origination fees, so we need to pay attention to the interest rate.

The interest rate in bar exam loans is higher than any other student loans, ranging from 5% to 12%. When signing for automatic payments, many lenders give a discount rate of 0.25% in interest rate. At the same time, some banks offer an additional 0.25% discount to its members.

The borrower has to choose between a fixed or variable rate. Fixed-rate remains the same throughout the loan and gives you more predictable repayments. At the same time, the Variable rate can change within no time, according to the current market standard. This can save your money if the current rate is lower than the fixed-rate but it can cost you more also if the rates are higher.

How long are the terms?

You have a period of 15 years to pay back your bar study loan, and no prepayment penalties are charged by the lenders in case you want to make payment to save on the interest rate. A grace period or a deferment period is given with most of the bar study loan, between six and nine months after you receive your fund or before you need to start making payments.

Who’s eligible for these loans?

In general, you need to be a recent graduate or enrolled at least half time in your final year of study at an ABA-accredited law school to be eligible for a bar study loan. You must be one of the U.S. citizens or a permanent resident to apply your own. For international students, they might qualify if they have a creditworthy co-signer, the borrower must also have the documentation proving their legal status.

Where can you get bar study loans?

Apart from the private lenders listed above, there are multiple options available when it comes to bar study loans. Start your search with all the available options. 

Your Law School

Bar study financing is provided directly or through a credit union by some of the law school. Contact your University Financial Aid Office to get more details about what they offer.

We should always remember that not all the student loans which are used for bar exam expenses are called bar study loan. For example- the Harvard Credit Union offers the “postgraduate transition loan” that law students can also use to cover the bar study expenses.

Private Student Loan providers

No federal loan is provided to pay bar study costs. So the best choice for bar study loans like a private student loan provider like Sofi, PNC, Wells Fargo or any other. They offer loans particularly for bar study or postgraduate programs.

Depending on the lender you choose, you can apply online, over the phone or in person. The amount will be sent to your personal bank account or write you a check, rather than sending the amount to your school. 

Bar Exam Courses

In this case, refinancing is done with partner lenders. It is closer to personal loans than any student loans- shorter term, a wide range of rates and more terms

For example, BarBri offers financing for its bar exam course through online lender Affirm. With the APR of 0-30%, depending on your creditworthiness, you can pay back your loan between 3,6, and 12 months. This type of refinancing is only used to pay your bar exam courses.

Leftover Student Loan Funds

What if you are in school and the loan limits get over? So here can be the time when you will want to apply for an additional loan for the last year of your law school to cover your bar exam expenses. That way you will not be required to take an extra loan and you can also take advantage of low-interest rates, especially in case of federal funding.

Personal Loan

A personal loan can also be used to pay your bar exam costs. But there might a chance where you want to apply with a lender who allows a co-signer with you. That’s because some lenders may not wish to work you as you are unemployed.

Why you shouldn’t opt for a regular student loan?

In a simple way, if we say, the student loan is provided to cover the expenses related to getting a degree and bar exam preparation has no effect whether or not you complete any degree.

The application form for both the loans are slightly different even. When you apply for a student loan, the loan is based on your school’s educational expenses and the money is also sent to the Financial Aid Office. Whereas, with the bar loan, the fund is received by you as you are using it to cover all the additional costs. You can use leftover money in student loans, but to take out a student loan to cover a bar exam is not an option.

Worried about your college tuition? Learn more about student loans

What costs can you cover with a bar study loan?

Bar study loans can be used to cover any expenses related to the bar study exam. These are the most common cost to cover.

1) Bar Review Courses

Bar exam courses have become a necessity and are one of the most expensive loans you will need. And that’s because it can easily set you back with $1000. Here are some common average costs that you can expect.

Barmax: $949

Kaplan: $1,999

Themis Bar Review: $2,095

BarBri: $3,695 to $3,995

2) Exam Fees

The exam fees will vary from the state and whether or not it’s your first time. If you live in a state that accepts the Uniform Bar Exam(UBE), that can set back you to $250 to $1,250 to take the exam for the first time, depending on where you live an additional of $250 to $1,250 score is transferred to your state. For the second timers, there might be a slight discount, but still, it will be costly.

State exams have a similar range of cost, though it can get as high as $1,450 in Illinois. 

In addition to the Bar Exam, most of the states require The Multistate Professional  Responsibility Exam (MPRE), which costs $95 if you register by the deadline or $190 after.

3) Additional Fees

You might have to pay some additional fees depending on where you, which you can cover with the bar exam loan:

Filing fee

Laptop fee

Application for determination of moral character fees

Admission certificate fee

Law license fee

Three Alternatives of Bar Study Loan

Not able to take Bar Study Loan or don’t want to be Student Loan debt. Don’t worry there is an alternative way also:

1) Scholarship of Bar Exam Preparations- For taking bar exam scholarship is offered by ABA and many local law firms. They mainly aim to increase diversity by promoting minorities, women, or future Lawyers from economically disadvantaged areas.

2) Ask your Employer- In order to bring in fresh talent, there are some law firms willing to cover the cost related to the bar exam.

3) Reach out to friends and family- You can set a crowdfunding campaign in a place like PeduL if you have a strong social media presence. Or you can also reach your family and friends who might be willing to help you with the bar loan.

This financing option is available if you are not able to take a new student loan to cover the cost of the bar exam loan. You can avoid paying too much interest on your loan with the first few paychecks as there is no prepayment penalty in Bar Exam Loan. A borrower can also check all the available options and choose the one best suitable for the financial condition.