If you are thinking about pursuing a career as a lawyer and you are not concerned about how much it is going to cost, you are either crazy, insanely wealthy, or very dedicated to your dream. However, in today’s economy more and more people are beginning to consider the cost of an education in law, and for good reason. It’s plastered all over Facebook and Twitter: law students – even students in general – are being assaulted with massive student loans just so they can get themselves an education. It’s no secret that it costs a lot, but many people who are considering pursuing a career as a lawyer can’t help but ask themselves, “How much does it cost to become a lawyer?”
The real answer is staggering. To come out with an estimated cost, we started tracking the average tuition over the course of one’s education. Let’s take a look.
Colleges and universities are getting expensive. Every year it seems that tuition increases by X%, and there really isn’t too much you can do about it. This is just a sad reality of education. Students are having to take out more loans every year just to cover tuition, food, and books. A lot of students have to make pretty big sacrifices, and work long hours throughout the week.
So how much, exactly, do colleges cost nowadays? We took a look at Yahoo! Finance’s top 5 picks, and the results… well, they speak for themselves. Take a look:
- Sarah Lawrence College: $61,236
- New York University: $59,837
- Harvey Mudd College: $58,913
- Columbia University: $58,742
- Wesleyan University: $58,202
It’s not pretty. These are the latest figures, from 2012-2013. Those are, of course, only representative of the most expensive colleges. But what if one were to decide to take a cheaper route? How much would an undergraduate education cost then?
According to the College Board, during the 2012-2013 academic year the average cost (including room and board) for private universities came out to be nearly $40,000, with public colleges costing around $20,000 for state residents and around $30,000 for out of state students.
Even that is a lot of money, but unfortunately the spending for an education to become a lawyer doesn’t end there. Here’s what we’ve spent so far:
Most Expensive: $61,236 X 4 Years = $244,944
Cheapest: $20,000 X 4 Years = $80,000
So now that the cost of undergrad is taken care of, we need to figure out how much continuing your education at law could cost. Unfortunately, the results of our research proved as discouraging as for college. According to the Career Education Center at Georgetown University, costs of an education in law can exceed $150,000 for the full three years. It can obviously be a lot higher, or a lot lower. Law schools generally range around the same cost per year as colleges and universities, with the lower tiers being around $30,000 and the upper tiers being around $50,000.
Where does that leave us now?
If you went to one of the most expensive colleges, you have already spent around $245,000. If you go to the most expensive law school, which will cost you around $150,000 for the three years alone, you will have spent almost $400,000! Your cheapest option, if you went to an average in-state college, will have cost you $170,000 including four years in undergrad.
Whichever way you cut the pie, the amount that people are spending to become a lawyer is quite incredible. We left out a couple different factors in this analysis for the sake of simplicity, including cost-increasing factors such as books, transportation, cost of exams and prep-courses such as the LSAT and Bar exam, and a few cost-reducing factors as well, such as scholarships and grants. For a better idea of the costs incurred while at law school, check out this article about How To Pay For Law School.
However, no matter what you do – unless you get really lucky – you are in for one big financial ride. There is definitely a lot to consider, and it’s best to make sure this is the career you really want before you wind up in your second year of law school wondering why on earth you ever wanted to become a lawyer! Whatever you decide, we hope this article gave you a better idea of what you want to do with your life.
How much do you think it should cost to become a lawyer? Is education getting too expensive? Are the costs offset by scholarships and grants? Let us know in the comments below!