By tamara A recent report from the American Bar Association (ABA) found that 26.8 percent of law students from the class of 2013 were either unemployed or working in part-time jobs (non-professional) nine months after graduation. Why is that important? Well, for one, some of these students are amassing serious amounts of student loan debt. For example, graduates from the Florida Coastal School of Law carried an average debt of $150,360, but the median starting salary for most of them was only $45,000. A salary that low is going to make it difficult to cover monthly student loan payments. What’s even more alarming is that there are seven other law schools where the average student loan debt is even higher. One way future law students can help keep their expenses to a minimum is to consider enrolling at a law school that offers healthier financial aid packages. Another option is to research private scholarships for law students. There are many law firms and professional associations that offer future attorneys and other legal professionals the opportunity to earn free money for their college degree. In fact, here are 10 summer scholarships that are taking applications right now. 1. Earl Warren Scholarship The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) offers several scholarships each year to college seniors who have a record of community involvement and a record of academic achievement. The amount of each scholarship is determined on a case-by-case basis. Deadline: April 30. 2. Law & Justice Scholarship Award Current college students, or those planning to enroll in a law degree program, may be eligible for this $500 award. One scholarship is offered annually. Deadline: May 1. 3. Law Student Writing Contest The American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law sponsors this essay contest, providing three awards each year. Scholarships range in value from $1,000 to $2,500 each. Current law students attending an ABA-accredited school may apply. Deadline: May 16. 4. Michael Greenberg Student Writing Competition Current law students who are interested in protecting the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community may enter this writing competition. One $1,000 scholarship will be awarded. Deadline: May 16. 5. Goodwin & Scieszka Innovation Scholarship The Law Offices of Goodwin & Scieszka offer three scholarships annually for students with grade point averages of 2.8 or higher who are pursuing a law degree. One winner will receive $1,000 and the two runners-up will each receive $500. Deadline: June 1. 6. Marilynne Graboys Wool Scholarship Female law students from Rhode Island may compete for this $2,000 scholarship. Students must demonstrate financial need and attend an accredited school. Deadline: June 13. 7. James Boskey ADR Writing Competition This essay contest is sponsored by the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution. Second- and third-year law students, as well as fourth-year part-time students, are eligible to apply. One $1,000 scholarship will be provided. Deadline: June 13. 8. George Hutchinson Writing Competition The Federal Circuit Bar Association provides one $3,000 scholarship annually through this writing competition. Current law students who are enrolled at an ABA-accredited law school are eligible to apply. Deadline: July 1. 9. Paralegal Scholarship Students who are pursuing a degree or certificate in paralegal studies, legal assisting, court reporting, or another law-related field may apply for this $500 scholarship. Deadline: July 15. 10. Legal Leaders Scholarship Console & Hollawell P.C. Personal Injury Lawyers sponsor this scholarship program for students in a pre-law, paralegal or juris doctorate program. Students must have grade point averages of 3.0 or higher. One $1,000 scholarship is available. Deadline: July 15. Make Smart Decisions A law degree is a huge financial investment, but financial aid can definitely lighten the load. Students should begin their search for law school scholarships well before they plan to enroll, as many awards are available during their final two years of undergraduate study. A free scholarship search tool, such as Unigo, can help students find pre-law scholarships, as well as others they may be eligible to receive.