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How Much Does Law School Cost?

Law School Prices

Law school is expensive, but the return on investment is well worth the cost. The average lawyer makes in the range of $60,000 to $120,000 per year, according to payscale.com. But there is potential for lawyers in certain specialties to make much, much more.

Law School Costs

Law school tuition runs anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000-plus per year. If you decide to live on campus, plan on paying an extra approximately $7,000 to $15,000 per year for room and board.

Here are some examples of law school costs around the country.

  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison, ranked No. 28 in the 2010 U.S. News & World Report list of the best law schools, charged $16,426 for full-time, in-state students during the 2009-2010 school year. Out-of-state full-timers paid $36,350 per year.
  • Florida State University, ranked No. 54, charged in-state students $14,199 in tuition for the 2009-2010 school year. Out-of-state students paid $31,210. In 2007, 89 percent of Florida State law grads pass the bar the first time around, compared to 78 percent statewide.
  • At the University of Maryland in Baltimore, tuition for in-state students during the 2009-2010 year was $23,762; out-of-state students paid $35,041. The school's U.S. News ranking was No. 48.
  • The University of California-Los Angeles, ranked No. 15, charged $35,327 in-state and $45,967 out-of-state.

Top tier schools like Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Columbia can run upwards of $45,000 per year, and many students who attend those schools spend a total of $150,000 or more to earn a law degree. However, statistics show that graduates from top-tier law schools find jobs sooner after graduation and are more likely to pass the bar exam on the first try. They are also more likely to land jobs at large, prestigious firms.

Choosing a Law School

Cost is an important factor in choosing a law school, but it's certainly not the only factor. The school's reputation and quality are also important considerations, but don't base your decision on ranking alone lists of the best law schools are subjective and usually change from one year to the next. Instead, decide what qualities are most important to you and make your decision based on those parameters.

Also consider:

  • The school's location. Do you need to stay close to home? If not, are you comfortable with the campus setting? The school will be your new home for the next three years, so it's important to like your surroundings.
  • The size of the student body. Are you comfortable in crowds? Do you prefer large classes or a smaller, more personalized setting?
  • The experience and background of faculty.

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