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    Law School Success

    The Cost of Law School

    How to Deal with the Expensive Cost of Law School
    Unless you’ve bought a house, attending law school will likely be the most expensive purchase up to this point in your life. The decision to attend law school will affect your financial future for the rest of your life, so it’s important to take some time to think through the decision, and plan out how you can minimize your debt burden.

    When considering the cost of law school, you’ll need to think about more than just tuition. Books and supplies, health insurance and fees, room and board, and travel expenses should all be factored into your calculations. Most law schools have pages on their websites dedicated to giving you an estimated breakdown of these costs, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time trying to estimate your own budget. According to US News, the average tuition and fees at public law schools comes out to $28,046 annually for in-state students and $41,549 for out-of-state students, while private law school tuition and fees average nearly $50,000 per year. At the most expensive law schools, tuition and fees can top $70,000 annually. Another cost to think about is the opportunity cost of attending school compared to working full-time. You’ll be losing three years of potential income by going to law school–ideally, a law degree will dramatically improve your earning potential long-term, but those three years of not earning should still be factored into your costs.

    Because of these costs, student loans are a necessity for many law students. The American Bar Association (ABA) reports that in 2016, the average cumulative student debt for law school graduates was $145,500. Before entering law school, few students consider the real effects of this amount of debt–law school graduates often have to delay major life decisions in order to pay off their loans.

    To put the cost of law school in perspective, it’s also important to have a rough idea of what kind of salary you’ll be able to earn when you graduate. As US News reports, the average private-sector compensation for recent law school graduates at the median law school is $75,000. Private practice salaries can range from $50,000 to $190,000, with only a small number of schools reporting average compensation about $150,000. And if you’re planning to enter public interest or government work, salaries will be significantly lower. Where you attend law school can have a major impact on your earnings–graduates of the highest ranked law school also have significantly higher starting salaries on average than the typical graduate. It’s important to be realistic about your likely earnings upon graduation when considering how much debt is reasonable for you.

    Many law students and graduates are concerned about the value of their degree. By  understanding the true cost of law school before you start, you can find ways to minimize that burden and set reasonable expectations about the financial burden you’ll take on.

    The experience of law school can be highly fulfilling and potentially set you up for a gratifying and lucrative career, but for many students, the cost of law school can be extraordinarily burdensome. Only you can determine whether law school is worth the cost. For some tips on how to ease the burden of law school costs, check out our article on finding law school grants and scholarships. If you do decide to go to law school, Quimbee can help make sure you get the most value out of your time there. Our case briefs and other study aids will allow you to study efficiently and effectively and maximize the return on your law school investment.