The truth is, law school is going to cost you.
The actual amount varies, but most people do not have the savings, family resources, or school funding that would allow them to pay for law school without taking on debt. Even if that’s not the case, it will be three years when you aren’t earning a full-time salary.
If you are contemplating borrowing part of or the full cost of attendance for law school, you are not alone.
How Much Does Law School Really Cost?
Don’t get lured in by a scholarship award by itself-- it may be misleading standing alone. We recommend making a separate calculation for each school you’re considering.
To do this, calculate the total costs, which include tuition, fees, textbooks, cost of living, moving expenses, and necessary travel. Some of these expenses are set by the school, some are estimated by the school, and some you’ll have to calculate yourself.
Next, add up any money you will be getting from the school in the form of scholarships (which are sometimes conditional upon maintaining a certain GPA while in law school). What you’re left with is the total cost of attendance. You should also factor in available summer funding and postgraduate scholarships.
Knowing that one school is more expensive than another, of course, doesn’t mean that you’ll want to necessarily choose the less expensive school. While cost ought not to be the sole factor in your decision, you need to be able to make an accurate comparison.
Law School A (for one year)
Tuition: $66,800 +
Fees: $480 +
Textbooks and supplies: $1,400* +
Cost of living: $16,650* +
Moving expenses: $580✩ +
Necessary travel: $500✩
$86,410 total costs
Scholarships: $35,000 (unconditional)
Summer funding available: no 1L summer funding; $5000 2L summer grant
Postgraduate funding available: Loan repayment assistance program for public interest work (total amount varies)
Total: $51,410 per year, plus $5,000 available 2L summer grant and LRAP for public interest work available
Law School B (for one year)
Tuition: $65,875 +
Fees: $700 +
Textbooks and supplies: $1,400* +
Cost of living: $26,472* +
Moving expenses: $1,350✩ +
Necessary travel: $2,100✩ +
$97,897 total costs -
Scholarships: $20,000 (conditional upon maintaining 3.0 GPA)
Summer funding available: No 1L summer funding; $4,000 2L summer funding
Postgraduate funding available: No postgraduate funding available
Total: $77,898 per year, plus $4,000 available 2L summer funding
University of Michigan Law School
Tuition: $63,680 (Michigan resident); $66,680 (Michigan non-resident)
Textbooks and supplies: $1,300*
Other living expenses: $20,600*
Moving expenses: [insert your information here] ✩
Necessary travel: [insert your information here] ✩
Scholarships: Varies (average award $28,000)
Summer funding available:
1L: $6000 grant or $4000 loan forgivable for people pursuing public interest work
2L: $7500 and $5000 grants
Postgraduate funding available: income-based debt management program; variety of fellowships
* School estimated ✩ Student calculated
Is Law School Worth It?
There’s only one way to become a lawyer, and that’s by getting a JD. If you’re not sure about this career path, check out our handy guide.
If, on the other hand, you know this is what you want to do, it’s worth the investment to have a fulfilling career that makes you proud.
That doesn’t mean every law school will be an equally wise investment. Not all law schools can provide great legal training or set you on the professional path you envision.
Law schools also often have strong brands. Because of this, lawyers often make assumptions about other lawyers based on where they went to law school. Identifying strongly with the school you attend means you can spend the rest of your life as a lawyer talking about an institution you love, without worrying about the assumptions other lawyers project onto you.
The short answer: yes, law school is worth the investment if you know you want to be a lawyer. But not all law schools will serve your individual goals equally well.
How Can We Help?
At Michigan Law, we understand the anxiety that goes along with making a financial (and life) investment of this size. We are very happy to discuss your particular circumstances and give you honest advice. We want to help, and we will take the time you need to think through your decision.
As a prospective student, you can make an appointment to talk to one of the members of our Financial Aid office, in person or over the phone.