Financing Law School

Compiled from the Law School Admission Council website (http://www.lsac.org/jd/financing-law-school/financial-aid-overview)

 

Attending law school is an investment toward your future, but it can also be a considerable financial burden.  Law school tuition can reach upwards of $50,000 each year.  This amount does not include other costs, such as housing, school fees, food, books, transportation and other personal expenses. After everything is added together, the total cost of a law school education can easily exceed $150,000.  Learning more about how to finance your legal education will help you to make smart decisions now!

 Financing your way to Law School!

Financing your way to law school will start long before your first day of school!  It is important to know the different types of expenses that you may encounter as an applicant in order to start saving early.  These pre-law expenses often must come out-of-pocket.  Also, keep in mind that these expenses (school visits and moving expenses) may be very steep if you live in Hawaiʻi and are looking at schools on the mainland.

Common "Pre-Law School" Expenses

ExpenseEstimated Amount ($)
LSAT Fee (includes LSAT writing)$200*
Credential Assembly Service (CAS)$195*
Test Center/Date Change$125
Law School Reports$45*
Law School Application FeesVaries
LSAT Preparation Materials and/or Preparation Course(s)Varies (Free-$1,500+)
School VisitsVaries
Seat Deposit Varies
Moving ExpensesVaries

*Note: LSAC fees are subject to change, so it is always best to check on the LSAC website for any updates.

Tips to Save on your “Pre-Law School” Expenses:

  • Check out all of your schools!  Research your schools for important information, such as:

        • Cost of Attendance,

        • Deadlines to applying for aid,

        • Percentage of students receiving financial aid, and

      • Job placement rates after law school.

    • Create a plan for managing your finances during law school!  Many students use budgets during school to stay on top of their finances.

    • Come to our Financing Law School workshop!  We host this workshop every Spring.  Sign up for our Pre-Law Newsletter to get up-to-date information for the next one! (bit.ly/uhpacsubscribe)

  • Visit the AccessLex website.  AccessLex is a non-profit organization that serves students and alumni of ABA-approved, non-profit law schools.

Financing your Legal Education:

Once you are accepted, start to plan for your law school expenses.  Often, a law school’s tuition is the greatest expense, but other costs can quickly add up as well.  For each of these law school expenses, think of ways you can save money or reduce your costs.

Common Law School Expenses

ExpenseDescription
TuitionVaries by school (in-state or out-of-state)
Room and BoardVaries by location (includes lodging and food)
Books and SuppliesIncludes textbooks, study aids, printer paper, pens, etc.
Transportation Varies by location (public transportation, personal vehicle, parking fees)
Loan FeesLoan fees associated with federal student loans or private loans
Misc. ExpensesSeasonal clothing, child care, etc.

How to Pay for Law School

Students may utilize different ways to finance their legal education, such as scholarships, loans, and/or working during school.  Below is some information about common ways students finance their legal education expenses.

1) Scholarships/Grants/Fellowships

This type of aid generally does not need to be repaid!  However, because of this fact, this aid is often limited.  There are different types of scholarships and grants based on need, merit, or both.

Scholarship Tips:

    • Turn in your law school applications early!  Institutional aid, or money available directly from your institution, is often limited.  By preparing your applications early, you will not only be ahead of the curve, but also may have a greater chance of receiving internal scholarships and grants.

    • Keep a lookout for external scholarships!  Many churches, clubs, and other community organizations that you may already be a part of offer scholarships to students.  Make sure to check and apply, if you qualify! You can do searches on Google with search phrases that include skills or details about your background and the words “scholarship” and “law school” to see what kind of scholarships may be out there for which you are eligible. For example, “first generation law student scholarship” if you are the first person in your family to attend law school, “law school scholarship X-descent”, etc. It is also a good idea to search for scholarships offered to law students that are only available to residents of the state where you’re from. For example, “Vermont law student scholarship.”

2) Loans

Law students frequently utilize loans in order to finance their education.  Loans are a type of financial aid that must be paid back with interest.  Therefore, it is important to be mindful of how many loans you choose to take.  Below are a general listing of types of loans available for law students.

Federal Loans:
  • Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans: This loan has the lowest interest rate and loan fees compared to other types of federal loans.  Since it is unsubsidized, the interest will start to accrue once the loan is disbursed.  There is a limit of $20,500 per year.

  • Graduate PLUS Loans: This loan will cover the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid.  The interest rate and loan fees are higher than the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans.  The interest will also start to accrue once this loan is disbursed.

  • Federal Perkins Loans: This loan may be available for students with high financial need.  There is a limit of $8,000 per year.

Private Loans:
  • Private loans may be available for students, who may be ineligible for federal loans.  Before taking out private loans, be careful to check the interest rates and repayment plans.  Often, these types of loans will carry higher interest rates.

 

3) Other types of Aid:

Federal Work Study:
  • This type of aid is not available at all law schools and is specifically for full-time students.  Federal work study is a way to work part-time in a position on campus for pay.

More Financial Aid Tips:

    • Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible!  You will need to complete this step to be eligible for federal loans.  The FAFSA opens on September 30th at 7:00pm HST!

    • Check your credit score!  If there are any discrepancies affecting your credit history, make sure take care of them as soon as possible.

    • If possible, make payments to your loan fees during your time in school.  Loan fees will be added on to your loan total once repayment begins.

  • Start saving now!  It is never too early to start saving your money for law school.


Image result for access lex

Check out the AccessLex’s website (https://www.accesslex.org/) for free resources and tools to help with loans and law school planning.

AccessLex Webinars

MAX Pre-Law by AccessLex®: Online Suite of Resources for Pre-Law Students

MAX Pre-Law helps aspiring law students understand the decisions ahead, with a specific focus on the financial implications of getting a law degree. It offers lessons, worksheets, checklists, webinars and even one-on-one financial strategy coaching from Accredited Financial Counselors (AFC®) and financial aid experts all tailored to students’ specific needs and questions. And, it is all FREE!

MAX Pre-Law by AccessLexTM has four interactive lessons:

  • Your Law School Investment
  • Understanding Law School Admissions and Financial Aid
  • Getting In To Law School
  • Paying for Law School

LexScholars by AccessLexSM: A New Diversity Pipeline Program

Applications for LexScholars will open in February, and the program will take place in Summer 2020.  (If LexScholars isn’t the right fit, you may want to look at our Diversity Pipeline Program Directory to find more programs for your students.)

XploreJD by AccessLex®: Helping Students Think Beyond Law School Rankings

AccessLex has developed an educational search tool to help aspiring law students reflect on their priorities and find law schools that may be a fit for their criteria. XploreJD urges students to identify and prioritize the factors that will matter most to them, then uses publicly available data and a proprietary algorithm to create a list of schools for them to consider.

Helpful Contact Information:

WSRSL Financial Aid website: https://www.law.hawaii.edu/financial-aid-how-apply

WSRSL Financial Aid Manager: Heather Smith-Lee (smithhea@hawaii.edu)

National Student Loan Data System website: https://www.nslds.ed.gov/

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website: https://fafsa.ed.gov/

Free Annual Credit Report: https://www.annualcreditreport.com

The AccessLexhttps://www.accesslex.org/

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