Paying for College

Catch-22: Finding Funding for Paralegal Program

Question: I'm in a Catch-22 situation. I'm currently in a low-paying job and have been accepted to Cal State LA's extended studies paralegal certificate program. However, the program is not eligible for federal aid and I don't have the money to pay for it. I have bad credit and I just don't know what to do. What lender will give me a student loan so that I can begin the program?

I can see that you really are between a rock and a hard place. The only solutions I can offer would be for you to either find a co-signer for a loan (e.g., parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, rich and generous friend?) or consider a cheaper college where you might also be eligible for federal aid. For instance, check out this option at Los Angeles City College: http://www.lacitycollege.edu/academic/departments/law/introparalegalstudies.html


One final Hail-Mary idea would be to cajole a law firm in your area into to hiring you and funding your studies upfront, if you agree to work for a specified term and pay back the loan. (They’re lawyers after all, so they ought to be able to come up with a contract ;-)) Admittedly, this seems unlikely in the current job market, but if you have any connections to a law firm and/or you are incredibly persuasive, you will have nothing to lose by trying. Although paralegal programs are becoming increasingly popular, some law firms will still hire inexperienced paralegals and train them on the job, especially those who have a work or educational background that meshes with their needs.

Sorry I can't be more helpful. I'll post this on College Confidential and perhaps some of our members will come up with better suggestions.

(posted 5/10/2011)