How Do I Pay for Law School

It isn't easy, but it can be done!
Apr 2, 2023

Table of Contents

  1. How you will pay for law school is dependent on a few factors
  2. Determine how much it will cost you
  3. Things to keep in mind when borrowing for law school
  4. Related Articles

How you will pay for law school is dependent on a few factors like: 

  1. How much you have in savings and plan to put towards school.
  2. How much help you will get from your family. This might be in the form of direct support like cash, rent payment, a place to live, tuition support, hugs, or whatever. Or more indirect support, like cosigning on a loan.
  3. Your credit score and credit history
  4. The financial aid policies at the school you are going to 
  5. Scholarships you can receive from the school you attend, or outside organizations

When it comes down to it, in order to pay for law school you have to determine how much it will cost you: 

  1. Figure out the cost of attendance at your school after you subtract financial aid and/or scholarships
  2. Determine how much money you (or family members) are going to pay out of pocket directly towards tuition 
  3. Determine how much money you have in savings that you want to use for things like rent and food. Also consider any ongoing support your family might provide.
  4. Finally once you take the estimated cost of attendance and subtract out the above, then you are left with how much money you will have to borrow each year. 

Things to keep in mind when borrowing for law school. 

First, some good news, if you plan to do a private sector (or a very very rare paying public interest) internship during your 1L or 2L summer, then you will make some money which can help pay tuition or living expenses. Unfortunately, some schools will reduce need-based financial aid if you make money over the summer (or during the school year) so be sure to check with schools if you are comparing them based on cost. 

Next, a recommendation. Budgeting is the worst, and it is also super important. Tuition, rent, gas, Netflix, coffee, healthcare, school health fee (which seems like a scam since you also pay for insurance), books, supplies, food, coffee, fun with friends, coffee, parking, coffee. It all adds up. It’s manageable and you can (probably) get a loan to cover most of it, but loans are expensive and you have to pay them back, so the less you borrow the better.  

Finally, a friendly warning. Law school is long (at least 3 years) and expensive, interest is the worst, and lawyers don’t automatically make a lot of money after they graduate. Schools rarely (I’ve yet to see it anywhere) report the cost of attendance for all three years in one place; probably because $90,000 is scary, but not as scary as $270,000, and they want you to attend and pay them money. Since these numbers are big, it is important to plan for the 10 years after law school, or at least take a few minutes to think about it. To learn more about law school loans you can check out our toolshereor one of our articles about choosing the right loans like this one.

Related Articles

  1. How should I Choose a Student Loan?
  2. Oddly specific questions you might be asking when borrowing for law school.
  3. Is Law School Worth It?
  4. How Do I Pay For Law School?
  5. How Much do Lawyers Make?
  6. Preparing for Law School
  7. How should I Choose a Student Loan?
  8. What is an Origination Fee ? Plus Other Terms you Should Know when Borrowing for Law School?
Windsor MIT '22, Harvard College Advisor

I am the half of LSD that didn't take the LSAT, or go to law school (Sorry about that). But I did go to MIT business school while surrounded by law students and lawyers, so I am somewhat qualified to talk about the intricacies of law school apps and finances.

Windsor (the dog) didn't write this but he WAS a Resident Tutor and career advisor at Harvard College with me, so deserves some credit.


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i have only applied to like 4 t6 schools so far and haven't got a lot of response yet
those take longer; the responses I have are a few t20 then some regional schools I'm interested in
for me only UGA responded within the month, rest of my apps (including safeties) have been pending for like, a month
UPenn sent me an email yesterday just to tell me my application was complete... over a month since I submitted it. like thanks ig
the weekends feel empty now i never thought id be excited for Mondays
what does it mean for an app to be "under review"? i just submitted one yesterday and it already says that in my portal
@notavalleygirl: consider it to be as the next step after "received". basically they have a complete application and it is/will be reviewed. Can take awhile or be fast depending onthe school
@notavalleygirl: basically it's in a reviewer's pile of applications.
hey yall, if the school has multiple optional essays, should I do all of them? like if it has 3 optional essay prompts, is it cool if i answer just 2?
@PsychaCola: have you listened to the Kids of Rutherford County podcast by Serial?
i never thought i would do it but i signed up to take the LSAT again
id rather get hit by a truck than sign up/take lsat again
getting WL at an ED school kinda humbling, idk maybe it'll help who knows, but that test man, its rough
@TheURMLawyer: if it makes you feel any better, I got an R from my ED
WL is always a chance :) just keep up with the LOCI
@TheURMLawyer: I thought about it…but then started a PT and was like nope I’m done
i think if i had had a better lsat i would have gotten in. bc i got waitlisted and ppl with like 10 points on top of me for Rs, so maybe I'm just built diff idk!
thats what im telling myself at least to keep the spirits high
@TheURMLawyer: sometimes that’s just what you have to do 🤷‍♀️🤣
i love gaslighting myself into thinking this process is fun and enjoyable
Isn’t it the best?!
Quick App Question - I originally put that my current/permanent address would only be good until February 2024. My family has since decided to renew our lease - so we'll be there even longer. Should I email the schools I applied to of this change?
I’m thinking about giving my two weeks at the law firm I’m working at right now as a clerk. They have me working on Motions for summary judgement and complaints and other complex stuff without any training. I’m about to get yelled at on Monday for taking time off to go hunt with my dad which I do every year. Am I being nuts?
🤷‍♀️only you can make that determination
you should apply to other jobs and leave when you have an offer in hand
when your paychecks stop coming in and you have no job lined up, you'll regret leaving (speaking from experience)
Weird amount of decisions reported today
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