Published April 21, 2017
With the awareness of student debt and changes in the legal job market, prospective law student should do their research on the most effective and affordable ways to pay for law school. Here are 8 ways to minimize costs.
Minimize expenses – Living within your means is the best way to offset the cost of law school since housing is the second largest expense during law school. Although loans may provide you with the ability to afford a higher rent or a nicer car temporarily, you should be thinking about financial stability long-term. Having a roommate or living at home are options more and more students are considering. In addition to minimizing living costs, using a budget management website like mint.com can help you stay on track. An excel sheet with your budget might work just as well also.
Be creative with cutting costs – Food and transportation, though necessary, can be ways you cut costs before and during law school. Eating at restaurants and fast food can quickly add up in your budget. Not to mention eating out is usually not as healthy for you as cooking your own food. Consider cooking for yourself throughout the week and brewing your own coffee. Simply doing that can add up substantially. As far as transportation, having a car requires gas money, maintenance, and car insurance. Consider using public transit, walking, or biking as well as carpooling if you have a car.
Work & Save – Keep in mind that each of these points is merely a suggestion and it is important to tailor them to your own lifestyle. When it comes to preparing to pay for law school, it takes time to save up. With that being said, taking time either during undergrad or before starting law school might be ideal for saving up some money for law school.
Do your research - find out how much schools cost and how much scholarships they offer. It is somewhat safe to say that public law schools are cheaper than private, but that is not always the case. Additionally, private schools usually have more money to offer for scholarships which may offset the price of attendance. Now is a great time to apply to law school. Scholarships and full tuition rides for first-year law students are at an all time high. To increase the chance of earning a scholarship or a full ride, students should focus on maintaining a high GPA during their undergraduate program, as well as scoring high on the LSAT.
Scholarships – As an aspiring lawyer, it is important to read the fine print. It might be exciting to receive and acceptance letter with a large scholarship amount, but make sure you are aware if that money comes with any strings attached. Some schools offer large scholarships but then require high GPAs to maintain them.
Determine how much to borrow - Most law students fund their education with student loans. Just because you’re taking out a loan, however, doesn’t mean you can’t also minimize the financial impact of the borrowed amount. Before you go into college, create a financial plan and a budget. Map out what you want to pay during your three years of law school. Include in your financial plan food, housing, and fun expenses. Your budget map may change after your first year, but it is always smart to update it every year.
Think about your career goals - applicants should think about what kind of job they want, the salary it could lead to and where they want to work. Prospective students should review employment data at the websites for NALP, an association for legal professionals, and Law School Transparency.
Take the "How ready are you to pay for law school."