The Cost Of Going To Law School
For many, the decision of where to go to law school is not as simple as attending the highest ranked school in which you were admitted. Cost is a huge factor as well. It is something that will likely follow you for years, or even decades, after graduation. The average law student debt, according to LendEDU, is between $24,000 and over $170,000 upon graduation.
The Cost Of Going To Law School
Here are some considerations to help you better understand the cost of going to law school and guide you in the decision-making process.
COST OF TUITION
One major cost of going to law school is, obviously, tuition. Unfortunately, it’s rising at most schools almost every year. Some law schools now charge nearly $70,000 per year for tuition and student fees. This does not include room, board, books, or anything other than your education.
COST OF ATTENDANCE
Instead of focusing just on the cost of tuition, you should also look at the total cost of attendance. This is a major figure in determining the cost of going to law school. The cost of attendance takes into account room, board, books, transportation, insurance and other expenses associated with attending law school in a particular area. The location of the law school may significantly increase the cost of going to law school far beyond just tuition. For example, Columbia Law School (ranked #5 by US News and World Report) has a total cost of attendance of nearly $100,000 per year. This is a large jump from the $67,532 charged for tuition alone. That’s not to say it’s not a worthwhile endeavor. Rather, simply be sure you’re making a decision of where to attend based on the full financial commitment required.
The cost of a program could not only determine how much debt you’ll need to take on but also the sort of career freedom you’ll have upon graduation. You’ll need to weigh the price of an expensive university against the opportunities it can afford you. For those interested in pursuing public service or other notoriously lower paying legal careers, your ability to pay back your law school loans may seriously impact your decision of where to go to law school.
Though there are loan forgiveness programs available to students, there are no guarantees. These programs may not be secured and protected in the years or decade it will take for you to be eligible for forgiveness. While you can count on loan forgiveness programs for now, don’t make a decision solely based on the idea of having your loans forgiven down the road. As in many different professional fields, the burnout rate for young attorneys is high. There’s no assurance that you’ll love what you do and want to spend the next decade pursuing it simply because you have no other way to get out of your student loan obligations. Provide yourself with as much security and flexibility as you can to be able to live comfortably while pursuing a fulfilling and open-ended career.
The most significant and obvious way to reduce your cost of going to law school is through scholarships. Be sure that you apply for any and all scholarship opportunities available to you. Compare raw numbers of the debt burden you’ll incur from the various scholarship offers you receive. It’s not enough that you received 50% tuition scholarship if that also means you’ll still be paying more out of pocket for a prviate school.
Going into years of financial debt to pursue your dreams of being a lawyer is a huge decision. It is possibly the biggest you’ll have to make for the foreseeable future when you complete your undergraduate studies. This does not mean it’s not a worthwhile pursuit. However, you should fully understand the debt obligations you’re taking on. This is especially true in the context of a school’s academic offerings and career opportunities. There’s no guarantee that you’ll graduate in the top of your class. You may not make a healthy six-figure salary for years after graduation.
You’ll need to do some serious number crunching to determine how much law school debt you need to take on. You also need to figure out what you feel comfortable with. It’s a balancing act and there’s no one right answer for everyone. Simply do your best to make an informed and well-educated decision.
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