Embarking on a law career is a dream for many aspiring professionals, but the path to becoming a lawyer is known for its challenges, both academically and financially.
One of the key considerations for anyone considering law school is the cost associated with obtaining a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
In this article, we will discuss the complete law school costs, shedding light on the various factors contributing to the overall expense.
We will explore the average costs of law school, considering the variations between public and private institutions, and examine the factors that influence these expenses.
Whether you are a prospective law student, a career changer, or simply curious about the financial aspects of legal education, this article will provide a valuable starting point for understanding the cost of law school and its implications.
So without wasting the time, let’s quickly jump into it.
How Much Does Law School Cost: General Statistics
Law school costs vary widely, but tuition, living expenses, and other expenses can range from thousands to tens of thousands annually.
- On average, the cost of Law school is $206,180.
- The average tuition for law school is between $46,000 to $137,980 per year.
- According to the latest statistics, public law colleges charge around $28,480 yearly for state residents.
- The median cost of private law schools is $50,770 per year.
- As per the data from the last 10 years, it is seen that the average cost of law school tuition rose by 27%.
- A study from BestColleges states that the living expenses of law students go around $23,500 per year.
- Each year financial aid is provided to students to cover the tuition costs. Each year almost 80% of law students get such financial aid.
- The law school with the highest cost of tuition fees is Columbia University which charges, on average, $73,600.
- On average, the application fee for law colleges is around $500.
- The North Carolina Central University charges the lowest tuition fees of around $11,400.
How Much Does Law School Cost: Cost By School
Let’s now have a look at the law school costs according to the type of school.
The cost of law school depends on the type of school you want to enroll in. For example, public law schools usually cost less than private law schools.
- Recent data suggests that the average cost of public law in-state universities costs around $28,480 for a year.
- Similarly, for nonresidents, public universities charge an average tuition cost of $40,860.
- The median cost of private law schools is around $50,770 annually.
- The total cost for in-state public law schools is around $156,240 for three years.
- For non-residents, it costs over $193,380 for the total cost for three years at public universities.
- The overall cost of three years at private law schools is around $223,110.
Here is an insight into detailed data on law school costs in 2021.
(Source: AccessLex Institute)
|Avg Tuition And Fees For A Year||Avg Tuition And Fees For Three Years||The Total Average Cost For Three Years|
- Moreover, it is seen that within the complete law degree, the tuition gap between private and public law schools rose to $68,400.
- The most expensive law school is Standford University which costs around $37,180 per year, including living expenses.
- The least expensive law school, including the cost of living, is the University of North Dakota which costs around $9,450 annually.
- Columbia University charges the most expensive law school tuition fees of $72,360 annually.
- Similarly, American University charges the least tuition fees of around $15,510 per year.
As you can see, there is a wide gap between the tuition cost of private and public colleges. To give you a better picture of how vast this gap is, below, I have stated the average cost of the top ten private and public law schools.
Here is a list of tuition costs of top private law schools.
|University||Average Tuition Fees|
|New York University||$73,414|
|University of Pennsylvania||$70,042|
|University of San Diego||$58,830|
|Washington and Lee University||$53,400|
|Wake Forest University||$49,276|
|Saint Louis University||$45,335|
|Brigham Young University||$28,416|
Similarly, the tuition cost for the top ten public law schools looks like this:
|University||Tuition (In-State)||Tuition (Out-Of-State)|
|University of California (Berkeley)||$56,858||$62,145|
|The University of California (Irvine)||$51,970||$60,210|
|University of Minnesota||$46,650||$55,620|
|University of Washington||$40,040||$51,540|
|University of Texas – Austin||$36,430||$54,100|
|University of Utah (Quinney)||$30,460||$39,800|
|University of Florida (Levin)||$21,800||$38,040|
|University of Georgia||$19,900||$38,660|
|Georgia State University||$18,000||$37,620|
|University of Nebraska- Lincoln||$16,800||$39,500|
How Much Does Law School Cost: Cost By Year
As I said earlier, the cost of tuition for law schools has increased by 27% over the past ten years.
On average, it has risen by $5,400 every five years.
- On average, the yearly cost for 2020 to 2021 year was around $40,790.
- In 2021, the average tuition fee for law schools was $32,230.
Let’s have a look at the trend in average law school over the years: 2011-2021.
|Year||Average Law School Tuition|
How Much Does Law School Cost: At Ivy League Schools
Ivy universities are considered as the most prestigious and expensive schools.
- Columbia University is the most expensive Ivy Law school, which charges a tuition fee of around $73,590.
The following data provides detailed data on the cost of some of the popular Ivy schools.
|Ivy League Law Schools||Average Annual Tuition Cost|
|University of Chicago||$70,710|
|New York University||$70,400|
|University of Pennsylvania||$65,390|
|University of Notre Dame||$63,840|
|University of Virginia||$63,238|
How Much Does Law School Cost: Lowest Cost Schools
The cheapest law schools are usually public law schools. So here I have mentioned some of the facts on the cheapest law schools in the US.
- The law school with the cheapest cost of tuition is the University of Arkansas.
Here I have mentioned the list of law schools with the least expensive tuition costs.
|School||In-State Fees||Out-Of-State Fees|
|University of Arkansas, Fayetteville||$6,835||$14,060|
|University of North Dakota||$10,417||$22,394|
|University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law||$10,620||$21,240|
|Southern University Law Center||$10,990||$18,590|
|University of Montana||$11,283||$28,602|
|North Carolina Central University, Durham||$11,387||$23,222|
|University of Wyoming||$13,428||$26,628|
|University of Mississippi||$13,488||$29,288|
|University of South Dakota||$13,904||$28,430|
|University of Kansas School of Law||$15,561||$27,038|
|University of Alabama School of Law||$15,760||$28,070|
|University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law||$15,760||$30,300|
|CUNY – Queens College||$21,802||$13,802|
How Much Does It Cost To Apply To Law School
According to the previous years’ data, it costs over $500 to apply to law school.
Most of the ABA-approved law schools have a condition that JD applicants should use the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to complete the process of their application. This application comes with a fee.
Moreover, if you are applying to many colleges at a time, then you will have to pay the application fee for each school.
Other than that, before applying to law school, you will go through a common entrance test, i.e., Law School Admissions Test (LAST), and submit your score. This exam requires a fee of around $215.
While some colleges have changed their LSAT requirements, they may accept the score of the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).
In contrast to this, some universities like Concord law school at Purdue University conduct their own entrance exam.
So the charges may vary as per the examination and the law school. You will have to consider the basic average amount for each of them.
Below I have highlighted the average amount you will need to apply at law schools. (2022-2023)
|Average Application Fees||$500 (Varies According To Schools)|
|Law School Report||$45 per law school student applies to|
|LSAT||$215, when required|
|GRE||$205, when required|
How Much Does Law School Cost: Additional Costs
Other than the application fees and exam fees, many additional costs should be considered when talking about the overall cost of law school.
These costs include student health fees, vehicle registration fees, living and food costs, and more.
Here I have mentioned a complete breakdown average total cost you will need for law schools (2023-2024)
The basic costs include the various direct costs like complete tuition fees, activity fees, etc.
|University Activity Fee||$570|
|Law School Activity Fee||$416|
|Student Health Fee||$340|
Conditional costs are those that you will have to pay as per the need. These include late payment fees, vehicle registration fees, graduation application fees, etc.
|Vehicle Registration Fee||$300|
|Replacement ID Card Fee||$25|
|Late Registration Fee per semester||$100|
|Late Payment Fee||$125|
|Drop/Add Fee per course||$10|
|Graduation Application Fee||$100|
|Payment Plan Participation Fee||$50|
|Returned Payment Fee||$35|
Cost Of Attendance
These costs include overall living, food, books, and personal expenses costs. Here is a breakdown of the complete cost of attendance.
|Books, Supplies, and Course Materials||$4,732||$4,732|
Other than such additional costs, there are some indirect costs.
At the end of the law school, each student receives their JD. i.e., Juris Doctorate. To be able to practice the law, you will have to go through the bar examination to receive the license.
Usually, the average cost of the bar exam ranges from around $200 to $1500. (Varied according to the states)
Law School Scholarships And Grants
There are various scholarships and grants provided to students to help them to cover their tuition costs.
Let’s have a look at these.
- The median grant awarded to law students in 2021 is $21,400.
- According to research from 2021, 80% of first-year law students received some grant or scholarship to pay the tuition fees.
- Among the complete population, 82 % of full-time and 65% of part-time law students received financial aid to cover the costs.
- Only 9% of the students received full or more than the amount of tuition.
Here is a complete overview of grants and scholarships awarded to law students in 2021.
|Amount Of Financial Aid Received||Percentage Of Students|
|Some but less than half of the tuition||41%|
|More than half but not all, of the tuition||30%|
|All of tuition||6%|
|More than tuition||3%|
- Moreover, recent statistics state that 1 in 5 law students was a first-generation college student, and 2 in 5 students received a Pell Grant to fund their undergraduate studies.
- The data suggests that the average grant awarded to full-time law students has decreased from 2019-20 to 2020-21 with $22,050 to $21,400, respectively.
Law School Debt
According to the survey from ABA,
- More than 90% of the surveyed ABA members have taken out a student loan for their education.
- Students owned a median of $130,000 as a student loan and $108,000 of debt for their JD.
- According to accesslex.org, on average, half of the enrolled law students were carrying undergraduate debt in 2021, with an average loan balance of nearly $28,000.
How Much Does Online Law School Cost
There are 11 law schools approved by ABA that provide online learning programs.
- All the law schools that offer online learning programs are private except for the University of New Hampshire.
- According to the ABA, the average tuition of the JD program is around $38,485.
Let’s have a look at the ABA-approved online JD program costs.
|Dayton School of Law University||$21,000|
|Mitchell Hamline College of Law||$36,020|
|University of New Hampshire School of Law||$43,917|
|Northeastern University School of Law||$43,980|
|St.Mary’s University School of Law||$27,354|
|Seattle University School of Law||$53,160|
|South Texas College of Law-Houston||$25,500|
|Suffolk University Law School||$53,920|
|Syracuse University College of Law||$40,4425|
|Vermont Law School||$42,500|
Is the Cost Of Law School Worth it?
If you are investing a huge amount of money to get a law degree, then it is essential to consider the Return on Investment of it.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay of lawyers in the US is around $150,000 per year.
- As per the survey of more than 1300 ABA members, around 47% of them say their education was worth the cost.
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Conclusion: How Much Does Law School Cost (2023)
The cost of attending law school is a significant factor to consider for aspiring legal professionals.
While the price tag associated with law school education may seem daunting, it is important to recognize the long-term benefits and potential return on investment that a legal career can provide.
Also, it is worth noting that the cost of law school can vary significantly depending on factors such as the institution, location, and personal circumstances. Therefore, it is crucial for prospective students to consider their individual financial situation, career goals, and available resources when evaluating the affordability of law school.
I hope the above data helped you to solve the various queries regarding the cost of law schools.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below.
What is the average cost of Law school?
According to the research, the average cost of one year of law school is $40,800. The cost varies according to the type of school, degree, and prestige of the school. The average total cost of the law school, including direct and indirect expenses, is around $64,400.
How long is a law degree in the US?
The law degree in the US law schools is of three years. Full-time students usually complete the degree within three years, while part-time students take five years to complete the degree.
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