Law school is not only a significant investment of your time and energy, but also of your money. Just like your undergraduate institution, you (and your family, depending on your situation) had to review the cost of attendance for your college or university. The COA includes tuition, books, supplies, fees, room and board, transportation and some personal expenses. All ABA-approved law schools are required to report their COA and typically it is on the school’s website. You can also find this information in a school’s 509 report, another mandated document law schools have to produce; you can easily find this on the web by searching “509 report [insert law school name]”.
Paying for Law School
It is well known that law school can be expensive, but luckily there are many resources and options that make law school more affordable if you do your research in advance. Additionally, law schools often award merit-based aid if you apply early and are applying to schools in which you exceed their admissions requirements. However, be sure to reflect on who may be helping you pay for law school and how; for example, will your family be assisting you in any way, or will you be solely responsible for the costs? Also, think about how you will pay for living costs, such as housing, food, transportation, health insurance, etc. while you are in law school; many law schools have requirements that limit their first-year (1L) law students from working more than 15-20 hours per week, due to the academic rigor and demands.
- Similar to your undergraduate institution, you can fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Report to see how much financial aid from the federal government you may be able to borrow, and you’ll want to do this during the time period you are applying law school. Remember: just because the federal government awards you $50,000, that doesn’t mean you are obligated to borrow the entire amount! You need to budget and determine how much you actually need because also note that interest begins accruing on these loans the moment they are disbursed, so you will owe more money by the time you graduate law school.
- Law School Transparency presents helpful data on projected debt owed for law school students.
- AccessLex is a hub for law school financial aid education. Check out their student loan calculatorto project your law school costs, their guide that outlines a strategic approach to student loan repayment, and MAX Pre-Law, a comprehensive series of educational videos and information regarding paying for law school. Not to mention their free student loan helpline, AccessConnex!
- If you have an idea about what area of law you would like to work in after graduation law school, it’s recommended you look at salary outcomes for that legal area to help you project how quickly you’ll be able to pay off your student debt. NALPprovides several years of data on law school graduates’ salaries.
- Luckily, most law schools award scholarships and grants to law school applicants, and most of these awards are merit-based. This means they are based on your undergraduate GPA and LSAT score(s) and how those fall into the law schools’ percentile rankings, for example if your GPA and LSAT are higher than most applicants at a particular school you would be consider in the 75th percentile of that law school’s applicant pool and would be more likely to receive more aid than someone in the 25thpercentile. You can find this information in a school’s 509 report, another mandated document law schools have to produce; you can easily find a report on the web by searching “509 report [insert law school name]”.
- The LSAC shares some scholarship opportunities on their website.
- There are ways to obtain fee waivers from law schools to waive the application fee for that particular law school. The best fee waiver option is through LSAC and you can read more on their website about how to apply.
- Apply for the Candidate Referral Service, which allows you to be discoverable by law schools that you may not have considered before. By registering for the CRS, law schools can find you based on criteria like your LSAT, GPA, age, geographic background, etc. and it can increase your chances of getting offered a fee waiver.
- Another common way to obtain a fee waiver is through attending law school fairs and forums. The LSAC lists their upcoming law school forums for the year. They are free events that present you with an opportunity to meet with representatives from over 100+ law schools, and they are hosted at various cities throughout the U.S. When you speak to the law school representatives, they sometimes will give you a fee waiver. Similarly, both Villanova and Drexel host law school fairs in October so be sure to attend those events as well. Another opportunity to get a fee waiver could present itself when you schedule a tour of a law school.
- Lastly, if finances are still a concern, you can contact a law school directly and inquire, while explain your financial situation.