Law school represents a substantial financial investment. The cost to attend law school could exceed $150,000 once the cost of tuition, housing, food, books, transportation, and personal expenses are all accounted for. As with any large expenditure, it is necessary to consider the pros and cons of investing this much effort, time, and money. Now more than ever, a realistic consideration of why you are seeking a legal education and how you will pay for it is crucial.
The best source for information on how to finance your legal education is the financial aid office of the law school that you plan to attend. Speaking generally, most students finance their legal education in part—though not exclusively—through educational loans. These loans are paid back with future income; the more you borrow, the more you will owe in principal and interest, and the longer this debt will impact your life after graduation. For these reasons, the Law School Admission Council recommends the following guidelines for taking on educational debt:
♦ borrow the minimum amount possible to attend the law school you choose;
♦ borrow federal loans first, as they offer the most flexible repayment options and provide more opportunities for payment relief than private loans; and
♦ avoid private student loans, unless you are an international student and therefore not eligible for federal student loans.
Other options for financial aid do exist, but are limited. This includes Federal Work Study funding, scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Most law school scholarships are merit-based and are often directly tied to your LSAT score, or LSAT/GPA. Again, the best source of information on your financing options is your law school financial aid office. LSAC has compiled a list of questions every prospective student should ask law school financial aid offices here. See also our Resources page for more information on financing your legal education.