How Much Does Law School Cost?

law school cost

It’s no secret that law school can be heartbreakingly expensive. Read on to find out the typical breakdown of law school costs and what you can do to reduce those costs.

Law School Cost: Tuition and Fees

The most obvious components of law school cost are the tuition and fees that you have to pay to your law school. Lucky for us, the American Bar Association keeps great statistics on the current tuition at all ABA-accredited law schools. Most full-time law school programs last three years and the average annual private law school tuition is $41,985, so tuition and fees will cost you (on average) nearly $130,000. (However, top law schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and Yale will cost you nearly $160,000). Public schools will cost you substantially less. Average annual public law school tuition for residents is $23,879 and $36,859 for non-residents.

Law School Cost: Books and Living Expenses

Unfortunately, tuition is not the only thing you will have to pay for in law school. You will also need books to study and a place to live. The ABA estimates that the average books and living expenses for a single student living on campus is just above $15,000 per year. Of course, you also have to eat and entertain yourself during your non-studying hours.

Law School Cost: How to Reduce it

  • Loans: If you don’t have a law school nest egg or a wealthy benefactor, you will probably end up using loans to pay for a large portion of your law school tuition. Student loans are fairly easy to obtain and generally have relatively low interest rates, but keep in mind: YOU HAVE TO PAY THEM BACK. If you finance every dollar of your tuition and living expenses, you could easily end law school with over $200,000 in debt (although the average is really closer to $115,000). When you are considering taking out loans, make sure you also consider how you will pay them back. High paying legal jobs will make it relatively easy to pay your loans back, but if you are considering working for the government or in the public interest arena, student loan payments can be burdensome and scholarships or loan repayment plans will be more important.

  • Scholarships: Scholarships are also available for law school tuition, either through specific law schools or through independent organizations. Since scholarships don’t have to be paid back, they can be a great way to pay for law school. Read this article on how to find scholarships for law school.

  • Loan Repayment Plans: Loan repayment plans are one way to reduce the burden of law school costs. Repayment plans repay all or a portion of your loans after law school if you take a low-paying job within a certain category–usually education or public interest. Check out this article to find out more about loan repayment plans.

  • However you choose to pay for law school, just make sure you go in with your eyes wide open. Make sure you look at the entire financial package for any law school you are considering so you aren’t surprised when you get your bill or see your student loan payment requirements after graduation.

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    • Carey Worrell

      Carey has an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston and a law degree from Harvard Law School. She scored in the 99.9th percentile on the LSAT and has been helping students succeed in their LSAT prep for the past 8 years. In addition to teaching the LSAT, Carey has held jobs as a Harvard economics instructor, a big-firm lawyer, a realtor, and a federal judicial clerk. However, her current lofty goal is mastering the NYT crossword puzzle.

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