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How to Finance your MLS Degree in Compliance & Risk Management

Finance your MLS DegreeYou recognize the value of Seattle U Law’s Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management—but do you know how to pay for it? There are a number of financial aid resources available, and our team can help you determine the best plan for your situation.


Merit Scholarships

Seattle U Law offers merit scholarships. These scholarships are awarded based on the admission committee’s review of applications and the standard set of application materials that applicants provide. There is no dedicated application form for the merit scholarship. 

Students who are awarded merit scholarships are notified about the amount of those scholarships in their offer of admission letter. To be considered for a merit scholarship, students should apply early, before the priority application deadline for the upcoming term.  

Financial Aid Basics: Tuition and the Direct Costs of Attendance

When considering financial aid, it’s important to understand the difference between direct versus indirect costs of attendance. The amount you owe SeattleU for your MLS tuition is considered a direct cost. This amount is primarily the base tuition, which is calculated on a per-credit basis. 

The MLS program is 30 credits (five credits per semester, for six semesters), so the cost per credit is multiplied by 30 to determine the full base tuition. You pay this amount over the course of the program. The cost per credit can change annually, and up-to-date fees are always available on the MLS Tuition and Financial Aid page.

For students entering the program in the Fall 2021 semester, the direct costs for the first two semesters are $12,889, calculated as follows:

Tuition and Fees, Fall and Spring Semesters for Academic Year 2021–22:

    • $12,720: tuition (10 credits at $1,272 per credit)
    • $69: SBA fee
    • $100: matriculation fee
  • $12,889: Subtotal of direct costs 

Additional Costs of Attendance

In contrast to the so-called direct cost of tuition, the indirect cost of attendance includes the estimated cost of books, room and board, transportation, personal costs, and related expenses. 

The indirect cost of attendance per year is important to you because the figure is used for financial aid and loan purposes. Lenders recognize that you may need funds beyond the cost of tuition to cover your expenses, so you have the option to borrow against these indirect costs. 

For students entering the program in the Fall 2021 semester, the indirect costs for the first two semesters are $27,028. 

Note: It is important to recognize that you may not incur all the costs included in the estimated indirect cost of attendance. As an online student, for example, you likely will not incur additional transportation or room and board costs even though those costs are part of the calculation. When you consider whether to borrow against the estimated indirect cost of attendance, consider your unique situation. 

Student Loans

You have multiple options for pursuing student loans:

  • A  federal direct unsubsidized Stafford Loan
  • Credit-based loans: either federal aid or a loan from a private lender such as a credit union

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

You begin the financial aid process by submitting a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form to the U.S. Department of Education. The government uses the information you provide to determine whether you meet the qualifications to receive a direct unsubsidized Stafford Loan. 

Financial need is determined by the difference between the cost of your education and your financial ability to pay for it. The borrower’s school determines the amount that can be borrowed based on the cost of attendance and other financial aid the recipient receives.

For the federal unsubsidized Stafford Loans:

  • The annual maximum loan amount is $20,500.
  • Interest is at a fixed variable rate and accrues while the student is enrolled in school.
  • Students are responsible for paying the interest, which may be deferred until repayment. Repayment begins six months after graduation or dropping below half-time enrollment.
  • The current interest rate is 0% due to the federal government’s COVID-19 relief response. The rate is set to return to 5.28% on October 1, 2021, unless the rate reduction extension is extended by the federal government. Federal student loan interest rates reset for new loans on July 1 each year.
  • Stafford Loans qualify for federal income-driven repayment plans, the Public Interest Loan Forgiveness program, and federal loan consolidation. 

Are You Currently Receiving a Stafford Loan?

If you receive federal direct unsubsidized Stafford Loan payments for a program in which you are enrolled during the summer semester before starting the Seattle U Law MLS program, contact us to talk about your financial aid situation. 

The federal direct unsubsidized Stafford Loan is capped at $20,500 per year. If you complete your FAFSA before the completion of a summer term, the loan eligibility amount the government calculates may fail to account for your summer term and thus be incomplete. By proactively contacting SU’s financial aid office to alert us to the situation, we can help you establish up-to-date loan eligibility amounts.

Credit-Based Student Loans

If the unsubsidized Stafford Loan is insufficient to cover your living expenses, a credit-based student loan of either of the following types may be an option:

  • Federal aid in the form of the grad PLUS loan
  • A private loan, such as from a bank or credit union

You can receive loan amounts of up to the cost of attendance less other financial aid. 

The federal grad PLUS loan is one credit-based option:

  • The federal grad PLUS loan is a direct loan the U.S. Department of Education makes available to eligible graduate or professional students.
  • This grad PLUS loan is typically a better choice than a private loan for credit-based funding because of its eligibility for federal income-driven repayment plans, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or federal loan consolidation. 
  • Like the unsubsidized Stafford Loan, the federal grad PLUS loan has a fixed variable rate. Each year the rate is set prior to July 1, and the rate at disbursement is set for the life of the loan. The rate runs about 1% higher than the unsubsidized loan (currently 6.28% for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2021).
  • The federal grad PLUS loan generally has an origination fee of 4.228%, though the rate is currently 0% due to the federal government’s COVID-19 relief response. The inclusion of an origination fee means the disbursement amount you receive is a bit less than the full amount you borrow.

Alternatively, you can pursue a credit-based private loan:

  • A credit check is required. A co-signer may also be required.
  • Private loans generally have variable interest rates (revised monthly or quarterly), but some offer fixed rates. There usually is no cap on the variable interest rate.
  • Private loans may have various loan fees. 
  • Some have annual and/or aggregate loan limits.
  • Private loans are not eligible for federal income-driven repayment plans, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or federal loan consolidation.

To assess whether a federal grad PLUS loan or a private loan is right for your situation, you’ll need to consider factors about your particular situation. Although more of our students pursue federal grad PLUS loans than private loans, especially if they plan to work in public interest, some students have access to private loans with very good interest rates and terms. In those cases, a private loan can be the better choice. Our Financial Aid office can help you understand and evaluate the options.

Interested in the Public Interest Loan Forgiveness Program?

If you’re interested in public interest loan forgiveness, see the detailed information and checklist available at The information at this site will help you understand program requirements and how to make payments on time and confirm eligibility for the correct repayment program.

Employer Tuition Assistance Programs

Partial or full employer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs are another avenue that many of our students use to pay for their MLS degree. Even employers without formal tuition reimbursement programs sometimes help fund the cost of a degree when potential students advocate about the value they can bring to the organization by completing the Compliance and Risk Management degree program.

To see what options are available from your employer, talk with your Human Resources department. Our office can also speak with your Human Resources department to explain the value of the program.

The Financial Aid Process

If you’re considering the MLS program, even if you have not yet been admitted, go to and complete the FAFSA form to begin the financial aid process. 

  • Completing the FAFSA form is easy: you provide demographic information and prior-year income information. You can even authorize the required income information to be pulled from tax forms you filed, eliminating the need for you to locate and then fill out the information. 
  • When you fill out the FAFSA, use school code 003790 for Seattle U School of Law.

Unless we do not have your FAFSA information, you’ll receive a financial aid offer letter from us about two to three weeks after you receive an admission letter. You should review and accept this offer letter, which tells you what financial aid you qualify for and how to secure the loans.

We want to help you establish the best plan for financing your education and reaping the benefits of a master of legal studies degree. To get started, contact us at or 206-398-4268.

Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management Program

Seattle U Law’s Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management program helps individuals who want to advance their careers and learn from respected leaders in ethics, compliance, and risk management. 

Depending on professional goals and interests, students in the fully online program can optionally choose to focus on financial compliance, healthcare compliance, corporate compliance, or data & cybersecurity compliance. The MLS program provides opportunities to solve problems through a legal lens and gain foundational knowledge of the law, but without a JD. It prepares graduates to lead compliance efforts in any organization, regardless of industry. Students graduate with a commanding knowledge of law, legal analysis, and the frameworks used to identify, assess, and respond to risk. The program’s values-based approach moves beyond a narrow sense of compliance and helps establish a sense of equity, justice, and inclusion.

For more information, contact us at

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