Financing Law School

Figuring out how to finance your legal education can be one of the most stressful aspects of applying to law school. Your knowledge of the financial aid process can directly impact your financial aid package. There are things you can do to improve your chances of getting financial aid, and educating yourself on the real costs of a law school education is the first step.

Identifying the Real Costs of a Law School Education

The real cost of your law school education includes more than the price of tuition. It includes the direct costs and the opportunity costs for undertaking a legal education. You first realized some of the direct costs such as your tuition, books, and fees when you started researching law schools. The opportunity cost though also has to be calculated. It is the income you could have made had you decided to work instead of going to law school. Economically, lawyers have found law school to be a good investment—realizing high returns on their investments of time and money; personally, though, the costs for some attorneys are too high because they are dissatisfied with the profession.

The following lists provide you with a beginning point to analyze the costs of a legal education.

Direct Costs:

  • tuition
  • the law school’s hospital and health insurance fee
  • activity fees
  • book expenses
  • supplies
  • cost of moving if necessary
  • rent
  • food
  • transportation

Additional Costs:

  • summer employment relocation expenses
  • after graduation employment relocation expenses
  • trips home and the frequency of trips home including holidays and special occasions
  • trips to visit friends and the frequency of those trips
  • furnishings for your apartment
  • interview expenses (if not reimbursed)

Lifestyle Preferences to Consider

How do you plan to live as a law student? In a house with other law students? On your own? With your family? With your friends?

Do you prefer to live close to the school or farther away? In a suburb? In a city? At your family’s home? What if there is a great financial discrepancy between your housing options?

How will you budget your finances? How much will you budget for entertainment? Eating out?

How much will your commuting costs be from your residence to school?

How often do you plan to go home (your parent’s home)? Plan to visit friends?

Do you plan to go home (your parent’s home) for the holidays? What are your anticipated costs to fly or drive home for the holidays?

Does the school you’re considering have local legal employment opportunities you would be interested in pursuing as a 2nd or 3rd year? For the summer? For after graduation?

How much will your commuting costs be from your home to employment opportunities?