Law school is an investment in your future. Investing in education can be a great return if done properly and with the high cost of a Law Degree, I have put together some tips that may be helpful.
- LSAT prep courses can be money well spent. There are a myriad of ways to study for the LSAT. This includes prep classes that range from no cost1 all the way up to tailored, individualized lessons. With so many law school admission programs focused on your LSAT score, you should think of the LSAT prep course as a first investment towards your law degree. The better the LSAT score, the better the school options a prospective student has. Not only can this mean more scholarships entering and potentially higher quality job opportunities post-grad. Putting money up front to study for the LSAT may feel slightly unnecessary or even wasteful, but the potential return is absolutely something to consider.
- Research the application costs before starting the process. Many costs such as application fees, LSAT materials, and prep courses can come as a surprise for prospective law students. With the possibility of fee waivers and discounted test prep, explore options to lessen the burden of these costs. It is also beneficial to optimize the application cycle by choosing schools in different ranges based on your scores. This neutralizes the unknown of the admission cycle by ensuring ranges are evenly distributed.
- Consider cost of living in other states and moving While some students may be fortunate enough to be able to attend a law school around their current residence, it is not often the case. It is important to evaluate the difference in costs of living when considering each school option. If a hefty scholarship is offered, cost of living can potentially offset any savings. When weighing each school financially, make sure to account for it. If a top school pick means a big move is in order, include it in the budget as well. A cross country move can be thousands of dollars to transport.
- Think long term about your career after law school before evaluating school options. If considering a government job thinking you will qualify for loan payment programs through employment, one might not be able to refinance loans. Therefore, calculate monthly loan payment and consider the expected salary for each field. Use a loan calculator to estimate your monthly payment. Look at the estimated salary for entering positions in the field you are interested in working. If it is not entirely feasible, you may want to consider other school or scholarship options. It is possible to calculate the costs and repayment to have a good idea of what your financial situation will be after graduation.
- Taking full loan amounts offered may not be the best option. You may be surprised at the amount of the loans offered for your law degree. Don’t forget that these are to be paid back and taking extra money may just be a bad idea. Many law schools give an estimated Total Cost of Admission (COA). While this is helpful, I have found utility in creating an individual budget to estimate my own monthly expenses. There are often material differences in estimated costs such as housing needs, transportation, and lifestyle. Before signing on loans, make sure they are tailored to your life and your financial needs.
- You may not be able to work your way through law school. For many students, working a job during undergrad is easily done. However, it is much more nuanced when thinking of employment during law school. Breaks between semesters are much shorter due to the trimester structure. Schedules are often busier due to the high volume of work.
These are some tips based on my past year preparing to enter law school in the Fall of 2021 during my internship with Matt Logan Inc. I hope you found them helpful. If you have any of your own suggestions, I would love to hear them. You can e-mail [email protected]
Article by Blakely Fahning, intern extraordinaire and Texas A&M Law class of 2024.
1 (Khan Academy Official LSAT Prep 2021)
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