Why do you want to become a lawyer? Do you like helping people, earning a good living, interpreting the law, negotiating, and looking into details?
Regardless of your reason, I’m guessing that the cost of law school isn’t on the list.
Although repaying your law school tuition can be a major burden after graduating, the median lawyer salary is $122,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compensation could make law school and the hefty price worth it, even if it requires taking out six-figure student debt.
Average cost of law school
The average cost of law school is around $45,000 per year. That means that a law school graduate from a three-year program might shell out around $135,000 in law school tuition expenses alone — not including living expenses and other fees.
But just as a lawyer’s salary can be higher or lower depending on specialty (IP attorneys are on the higher end and public defenders are on the lower end of salary), the cost of law school can be higher or lower depending on school choice.
Related: Top 10 Cheapest Law Schools
Public school is typically the least costly and the average in-state tuition is a lower sticker price than out-of-state. Private schools have the highest average law school cost.
The average cost of law school per year is around $50,000 for private law school, $40,000 for out-of-state public law school, and under $30,000 for in-state public law school.
Let’s dive deeper.
Law school tuition by category
Let’s take a look at the three main categories of law schools in terms of cost, in-state public schools, out-of state public schools and private schools.
Here are the five most expensive and least expensive in each category to get a law degree according to the International Legal Research Group.
Public resident (in-state) law school tuition
Most expensive per year
- University of Virginia – $60,700
- University of Michigan – $59,762
- University of California-Berkeley – $49,279
- University of California-Davis – $47,723
- University of California-Los Angeles – $45,600
- University of the District of Columbia – $12,838
- University of North Dakota – $13,023
- University of Montana – $13,177
- Florida A&M University – $14,132
- CUNY-Queens College – $15,563
Public non-resident (out-of-state) law school tuition
- University of Virginia – $63,700
- University of Michigan – $62,762
- University of Connecticut – $61,080
- University of California – Davis – $56,724
- Indiana University – $55,338
- University of Akron – $24,674
- CUNY-Queens College – $25,463
- University of Memphis – $26,402
- Cleveland State University – $$27,309
- Texas Southern University – $27,618
Private law school tuition
- Columbia University – $69,916
- New York University – $66,422
- University of Pennsylvania – $65,804
- Cornell University – $65,541
- Harvard University – $64,978
- Brigham Young University – $13,060
- University of Tulsa – $25,254
- Ohio Northern University – $29,160
- Concordia University – $30,854
- South Texas College of Law – $32,400
Paying for law school
When it comes to paying for law school, law school tuition and fees force many law students to apply for financial aid and take out student loans. But make sure you exhaust your options for grants and law school scholarships.
As far as student loans go, opt for federal student loans over private student loans. Although they may come with higher interest rates, the payment flexibility and options for forgiveness may make it worth it, especially if you won’t earn a stellar salary right after graduation or are planning to go into public service.
If you’d like help figuring out how to pay for law school, help people who are thinking about taking out six-figure student loans. Learn more about our pre-debt consult and get a solid plan for how to tackle it and what student loan repayment could look like.
Do you already have six-figures of law school debt and want to get a clear path to pay it back? Schedule a student loan consult today.