The Verdict on Saving for Law School

March 15th, 2013 by Amelia

Gavel. While law school certainly is regarded as a prestigious preparation for an impressive career, it comes with a hefty price tag attached. To put it in perspective, the average cost of attending law school can be between $45,000 to approximately $60,000 per year, or even more for the top colleges. Most law programs usually last for three years. Apart from the core tuition expenses, potential applicants also need to consider the costs of books and educational materials, transportation, meals, and housing. Consider it from another angle. Assuming that a law student graduates and immediately gets a full time job, if they put their entire salary towards paying school debts, it would take three to four years. When applying to law school, it is crucial to consider all the aspects and first decide whether law school really is for you. Those who are indeed committed to entering the law profession can finance their education in several different ways, including scholarships and other types of financial aid.

After accepting an offer from a law school, it is helpful first to meet with a counselor at their financial aid department. These counselors will discuss all the possible types of financial aid in further detail and help students to find the best options for their economic situation. The best way to finance a law education is to try to do it while incurring the least amount of debt as possible. Debt comes with interest, which essentially increases the education costs. The first resource for financial aid is to look within the institution itself. Law schools typically offer a host of scholarships and grants for students who meet certain criteria. This can include high grades, volunteer participation, race or ethnicity, financial status, and more. Research these in detail and apply for all that you might be eligible for. Another source of financial aid is local or even national companies and organizations. For example, check for grants offered by law associations, cultural groups, or organizations related to law education for young people. Students should also discuss their financing options with their parents. Some companies offer scholarships and other types of education financial aid for their employees’ children. If this is available, it can help the student to offset a portion of their tuition fees. Some parents may also choose to help their children by paying a portion of the school fees. Many students also opt to take financial aid from the government in the form of a loan. However, keep in mind that this results in a high level of interest, which only adds to the already high level of debt.

Working while going to school is an option that is viable but should be considered carefully. Law school usually involves an average of thirteen hours of classes each week. Factor in time for studying, research, and working on assignments, and it adds up to approximately 50 to 60 hours each week that are dedicated to education. Those who can still find some time to work can do so if it does not affect their grades negatively. Typical student jobs involve bartending, restaurant work, lifeguarding, and babysitting. Try to find other jobs based on campus so that it is easier to go to work after classes. This might include working at the gym or library or becoming a teaching assistant. An alternative is to work full time during the summer months, so that the school year can be dedicated to only study. If none of these options are appealing, a work-study program might fit the bill. In this scenario, students spend part of the academic year in classes, and the rest working in a career-related position at a company. They are paid and may also receive school credit for the work that they do, since it is akin to on-the-job learning.

Although law students often struggle under the strain of the education costs, the burden can be less with enough advance planning and saving. Students who are committed to working in a law career will find that the extra time and effort certainly do pay off in the long run. Make sure to thoroughly research all of the available options before deciding on a financial aid plan.

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