If you’re thinking about attending law school and you’ve got the internet 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, visit The Huffington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education. 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 — although 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.
Median Law School Tuition & Fees
The median law school tuition and fees are expensive, and the average annual percentage increase has been rising faster than the rate of inflation.
Average Law School Tuition & Fees from 2006-2007
Average Annual Percentage Increases in Law School Tuition vs. U.S. Inflation Rates from 1995-2008
True Cost of Law School Tuition
Although law school tuition and fees are expensive, the true cost of law school tuition is less because of provided grants, scholarships, tuition remission and loan assistance programs.
Net Tuition & Fees
If you look at the median tuition and 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!
What’s Driving the Tuition Increase?
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 U.S. 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:
“The 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!