Paying for Law School: Financial Aid

Unless you've bought a house or a condo, law school will be the most expensive purchase you’ve ever made. At Columbia, the top-ranked law school in New York City, tuition and fees for 2015-16 are $62,700. At NYU, tuition and fees are $59,124. At Touro Law Center, tuition and fees were $44,520 in 2014-15. Multiply this by three, add in living costs of approximately $24,000 a year, and you will see why going to law school involves an investment in yourself of about $250,0000.

Obtaining the money to pay for law school requires careful planning. Most law schools have merit-based aid, which is principally based on your GPA and LSAT score. Some law schools also offer need-based aid, but all expect students with need to borrow the major portion of their tuition and living costs. There are a variety of loan programs available, and payments are usually deferred until several months after graduation.

Students who attend law school without a merit scholarship are likely to face six-figure indebtedness after graduation, which may mean monthly loan payments of $2000+. While graduates who work for top-level law firms may be able to pay these loans back in a few years, those who are not so fortunate may face decades of loan payments. While there are partial loan forgiveness programs for those who work in public service legal positions, loan repayment is an issue that all potential law students should seriously examine before making the quarter-million dollar commitment to law school.