Financing Law School

Attending law school is extremely expensive. Develop a plan for financing your legal education before you decide to go.

Attending law school is extremely expensive. Tuition at a private law school, plus living expenses and books, can run well over $60,000 per year. Only the wealthiest students can afford to pay this amount as they go through three years of law school. Most law students have to borrow substantial amounts to finance their law school education.

The average debt for graduating law students is on the order of $100,000; for students at many schools, it approaches $150,000. These figures do not include debt from undergraduate schools. Based on the standard repayment period of 10 years, and current interest rates, the debt service on such loans starts at about $1,400 per month (and you’ll end up paying back about $170,000 for that $100,000 you borrowed, once you add in the interest)

Given these numbers, it’s critical that you do two things:

  • Before deciding to attend law school, you must first carefully consider whether law school is a good investment for you.

  • If you decide to attend, make a plan for how you’ll finance your education. Don’t put this off until after you finish school—I guarantee it will be the most costly procrastination of your life.



The following pages should help you understand your options sufficiently to start making your plan.

Nuts and bolts of law school tuition and financial aid

The first step in your financial planning is to figure out how much law school is going to cost.  Every school publishes its current tuition figures on its website.  Each school also calculates and publishes its annual “cost of attendance,” or COA (sometimes referred to as the “student...read more »

Scholarships

Law school scholarships The posted tuition cost for any given school is just the starting place. All schools offer scholarships to some extent, and an increasing percentage of students are able to attend school with some kind of institutional grant aid. Think of the tuition number as your sticker price,...read more »

Loans

Most law students finance some part of their education through loans.  This overview should help you understand the different types of loans available, and their relative advantages and disadvantages. For more information on federal loans, the US Department of Education has an extensive explanatory website. These days, students primarily...read more »

Working during law school

During your first year of law school, you can expect to log 12-15 hours per week in the classroom. The most often-cited benchmark for outside study time is 2-3 hours of study for every hour of class time. Please note that that figure is an average—some students will study...read more »

Loan repayment options

There are several repayment options to consider both before you take out loans to finance your legal education, and once you’ve graduated. As you think about these options, think too about how much you’re likely to be earning and what it will cost you to live in the...read more »