Obtaining a law degree can cost more than $ 150,000, according to the Law School Admission Council. That means you had better have a plan to pay it off.
Most students take loans to law schools, but other types of financial assistance are available. Here are four strategies to consider when deciding how to pay for law school.
1. Win scholarships and grants
You don’t have to repay scholarships and grants, making this the best option for paying for your law school – if you qualify.
Most law scholarships and the grants come from the schools themselves and are based on the applicant’s merit, for example, his LSAT scores. But schools can also offer prizes to people from diverse backgrounds, such as racial minorities and LGBTQ students.
Private scholarships – from law firms, bar associations, and community organizations, for example – may be offered to under-represented groups or to students studying specific types of law. Your school’s financial aid office is the best source for information on all awards.
2. Work part-time
Law students can earn federal work-study funds by working part-time. Since you have to earn work study funds, you cannot use this money for the initial tuition fees. But a work-study program could help you pay for living expenses without going into debt – if you can balance your work and education.
Since law school requires a lot of concentration, first-year students are usually not offered work-study work. For second and third year students, law schools often limit work study to 20 hours per week. Work-study funding is also not available in all schools.
If you are studying law school part-time while working, see if your employer offers tuition assistance programs to help cover the cost of your education.
3. Using military financial aid
The military can help you pay for your law school in several ways:
If you have finished your service. Law schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon program provide additional funding to veterans, or their children, who are eligible for the benefits of the GI Bill after 9/11. The Department of Veterans Affairs matches the contribution of these schools, potentially allowing you to attend at a fraction of the cost.
If you are still on active duty. About two dozen active-duty officers are accepted each year into the Funded Legal Education Program, or FLEP. Program participants agree to serve several years as military lawyers in exchange for tuition and living expenses in a law school of the student’s choice.
4. Take out student loans
Most students turn to student loans to cover cost of law school, and federal and private options are available. Law graduates with graduate debt due to a average of $ 145,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, then borrow wisely.
Take direct federal loans first. These have a lower interest rate than other federal student loans. Law students can borrow up to $ 20,500 per year in unsubsidized loans and no more than $ 138,500 in total in subsidized and unsubsidized loans (including undergraduate loans).
Cover the remaining costs with Federal PLUS loans. Once you’ve reached your annual or aggregate borrowing maximum for unsubsidized loans, opt for PLUS graduate loans. You can borrow up to the remaining cost of attending your law school, less any other aid you have received. You can apply for all Federal Student Loans by completing the Free Federal Student Assistance Application, or FAFSA.
If your post-law journey leads to the private sector and a high salary – such as joining a Great Law business, for example – consider opting for private loans. But keep in mind that you can refinance law school loans later to grab some savings.
How to pay the bar exam fees
If you are studying for the bar exam, you might need extra money for tuition or living expenses. Look for bar prep scholarships to cover these costs, or ask your employer, friends, or family for help, if possible.
If you need to borrow money, some private lenders offer loans for bar exam fees. Bar exam loans usually have high interest rates, but they can still cost less than using a credit card or taking out a personal loan.