A law degree often comes with a substantial price tag. To learn more about how much law school tuition is and how to reduce your law school costs, read on.
While law school often leads to high-paying jobs and doors of opportunity, obtaining a law degree is a huge financial investment.
To help you prepare for law school, it’s important to know the cost of law school and ways to reduce the amount of debt you bring home with your degree!
Let’s start with the basics. How much is law school? The answer really depends on the type of law school you’re hoping to get into. For instance, top-ranking law schools cost much more than lower-ranking ones because of their prestige, resources, and opportunities they can offer.
There is also a drastic price difference in the cost of tuition at public universities as opposed to private ones!
The average cost of public, in-state universities is $29,610 a year. The University of Virginia has the highest tuition at $66,500 a year. The lowest tuition belongs to the University of the District of Columbia (Clarke) and is $13,438 a year.
The average cost of public, out-of-state universities is $42,754 a year. The University of Virginia still holds the highest tuition costs for out-of-state students at $69,500 a year, and Northern Illinois University has the cheapest tuition at $22,194 a year.
The average cost of private law school is much higher, at $53,034 a year. The highest private law school tuition belongs to Columbia University and is $76,088 a year! The University of Tulsa has the lowest tuition costs at $26,880 a year.
For the 2023–2024 year, the cost of attending private law schools can range from $12,000–$80,000 a year, with an average cost of $53,034 a year. Public law schools range from $12,000 to $60,000 for in-state students, averaging $29,610 annually. For out-of-state students, this jumps to $15,000–$70,000, for an average of $42,754 a year.
So, if you’re wondering how much it costs to become a lawyer, it varies greatly based on the school you attend! Here are the tuition costs of ten private law schools, which tend to be some of the most expensive law schools:
In comparison, here are the tuition costs of ten public law schools.
When comparing law schools by tuition, it's essential to consider not only the cost but also the value of the education and the financial aid options available. You should also keep in mind that there are other costs to attending law school. These costs include rent or boarding, textbook fees, transportation fees, and more.
Since 2005, the cost of tuition has been on a steady climb, increasing by an average of $5,353 every 5 years. It's not just a local issue; historical data going back to the 1970s reveals that tuition hikes have been a widespread trend in all ABA-accredited law schools.
The reasons behind these rising costs are multifaceted, including shrinking student-faculty ratios, higher faculty salaries, the introduction of practical legal clinics, expanding administrative staff, and ambitious construction projects.
Looking ahead, the average yearly tuition is predicted to hit $50,226 for the 2023–2024 school year and is expected to rise even further to $51,624 for 2024–2025.
To put this in perspective, between 1997 and 2015, tuition at Minnesota Law School shot up from $8,923 to a whopping $41,222, while at Ohio State Law School, it jumped from $6,412 to $28,577 over the same period. These numbers highlight the significant financial challenges that law school students continue to face.
If the cost to become a lawyer is deterring you from pursuing your academic and professional dreams, know there are multiple ways to significantly reduce the cost of attending law school!
As private universities tend to be more prestigious or higher-ranking, they cost more to attend. Public law schools are almost always cheaper and can still provide you with an extensive legal education!
For instance, the University of Texas still ranks as one of the top 20 law schools in the nation but is significantly cheaper than the private schools with similar rankings. Boston University ties with Texas as the 17th best law school, yet its tuition is almost double!
That being said, if you choose to attend a public university, in-state will always be cheaper than out-of-state schools.
For students who want to work while pursuing their JD, a part-time program may be the best option for them! These programs are cheaper than full-time programs and allow you to work and study without making compromises in either.
Using FAFSA, you can apply for financial aid. Depending on your financial situation and other factors, you’ll be told how much aid you’re eligible for and what kind. You may receive federal grants, which you won’t have to pay back!
Almost every law school also has an extensive scholarship program where students are given grants or scholarships based on merit, financial need, or both! Ensure you look into the financial aid resources your school is offering to help cut down on your law school costs.
You should also apply to external scholarships that often offer significant grants to lower the costs of law school. Many of these scholarships can even cover the full cost of tuition, allowing you to go to law school for free!
Law schools often award students with high LSAT scores, GPAs, or otherwise impressive applications for full-ride scholarships. Some schools also offer exclusive early-applicant scholarships.
Another way to reduce the cost of law school is to take a gap year. The function of this suggestion is twofold: you can save up for law school, or you can become a more impressive candidate.
By taking a gap year, you can work full-time to begin saving up enough money to pay off some of the costs of tuition and take out fewer student loans. You may also be employed by a company that provides tuition reimbursement, allowing you to pursue a legal education for free while working.
For instance, NYU Law’s Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholarship offers 20 first-year students with exemplary commitment to public service, academic excellence, and potential for leadership full-ride scholarships.
For any remaining questions, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about the cost of law school.
In general, law school is considered to be expensive to attend. Even for the cheapest law schools, students typically require some form of financial aid.
The University of the District of Columbia (Clarke) costs $13,438 a year for in-state students and is the cheapest law school to attend.
If you have a genuine passion for law, then law school is definitely worth it! However, it isn’t worth it if you’re only pursuing law for the assumed wealth and luxury it can provide. In reality, students are guaranteed to spend top dollar on their education but aren’t necessarily guaranteed to make top dollar post-graduation.
While you should definitely consider law school to be an investment, ensure you are not only going to law school in hopes it will lead to a lavish lifestyle.
The average cost of private law school tuition in the US is $53,034 a year. Public in-state tuition is $29,610 a year, and out-of-state tuition is $42,754 a year.
Yes! There are ways to go to law school for free. The most popular option is to apply for full-ride scholarships through your school or externally. You can also make yourself an attractive enough candidate to be offered these scholarships. Attractive candidates are typically those with high LSAT scores, high GPAs, or excellent extracurriculars.
The median salary for lawyers in 2022 is $135,740 per year, which is equivalent to an hourly rate of approximately $65.26 per hour.
Many students enter law school considering the outcome rather than the journey.
While many law students do eventually have prosperous, high-paying legal careers, considering and preparing for the actual cost of attending law school is essential to ensure you have a smooth journey with as little financial stress and debt at the end of it!