How Expensive Is Law School?

If you're thinking about attending law school and you've got the Internets handy, then you've probably come across a lot of scary articles about how expensive the cost of law school is and whether it's really even worth going. For some of those articles, go here, and here. And there's also an interesting, more thorough treatment of the subject to be found in this law review article by a Vanderbilt Law School Professor, though we don't necessarily agree with some of his conclusions.

So how expensive is law school? Below are some interesting facts and figures that can help you decide.

The Median Law School Tuition & Fees Are Expensive, and The Average Annual Percentage Increase Has Been Rising Faster Than The Rate of Inflation


Yet The True Cost Of Law School Tuition Is Less, Because Law Schools Provide Signi- ficant Grants, Scholarships, Tuition Remission, & Loan Repayment Assistance


If you look at the median tuition & fees figures alongside the average value of the scholarships, grants, tuition remission, and loan repayment assistance that law schools directly provide, the net average cost of law school is between 12 and 24 percent less, according to 2006-07 ABA data. Still, no matter whether you're going to a public or private institution, law school is a huge investment. You owe it to yourself to apply for as many private scholarships as you can to reduce the amount you'll have to pay for law school. So get started saving today, using our Law School Scholarship Finder!

So What's Driving Law School Tuition Increases That Are Higher Than The Rate of InFLation?

Well, to hear law school officials tell it, the popularity and importance of law school rankings perversely increases law school tuition by causing law schools to spend money on objective metrics that drive higher rankings. In a 2009 US Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) Study, GAO officials interviewed law school officials on this very question of rising tuition costs. In response, the law school officials said:

[T]he move to a more hands-on, resource-intensive approach to legal education and competition among schools for higher rankings appear to be the main factors driving law school cost, while ABA accreditation requirements appear to play a minor role. Additionally, recent decreases in state funding are seen as a contributor to rising tuition at public schools.

There's no easy answer to reverse this trend. Prospective law students understandably are hungry for information about the relative merits of different law schools to which they're applying, and law school rankings (while imperfect) provide a measure of this information. Plus, state governments remain under pressure to cut their budgets, so it's unlikely we'll see stabilized or increased funding for state colleges and universities anytime soon. The best thing you can do to keep your law school expenses to a minimum is to apply to as many private law school scholarships as possible. Get started now, using our Law School Scholarship Finder!

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