How Much Law School Debt is Too Much?

how much law school debt is too much

When it comes to law school debt, many graduates are questioning if their investment was worthwhile. A study by online lender SoFi finds that the average law school graduate carries $145,500 in student loans.

Debt can make it difficult to reach life milestones like buying a home or starting a family, and the report revealed that Asian respondents and those with more than $100,000 in student loan debt at graduation were more likely to postpone these goals due to their student loan debt burden.

Tuition and Fees

When considering law school, it is essential to be aware of the financial repercussions. Tuition and fees can be an extensive investment, particularly when attending a top-notch institution.

Additionally, if you aspire to work at a law firm or public service organization, your debt could potentially hinder your career progress. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), more than 33 percent of new lawyers are feeling overwhelmed by their debt and delaying major life events such as getting married or having children due to difficulty repaying student loans.

One way to reduce your law school costs is to take advantage of scholarship and grant programs offered through the Law School Admission Council, American Bar Association and search tools like FastWeb. These opportunities can be found through various organizations such as the Law School Admission Council and American Bar Association websites.

Another alternative is to take advantage of the federal government’s work-study programs. These grants enable individuals to work at a company while in law school, earning income that can help cover educational costs.

Many law schools provide this opportunity, but it’s essential that you research each school’s program carefully in order to confirm your eligibility. If you have any doubts, reach out directly to the college’s financial aid office for further details.

When paying for law school, it’s wise to calculate all costs and create a repayment plan. Furthermore, understand your loan terms and interest rate so you can decide if paying off debt will be financially feasible.

If you are having difficulty paying off your debt, speaking to a certified financial planner or bankruptcy attorney may be beneficial. They will educate you on all available options and create an action plan that will put you on the path toward financial freedom.

You can use the Student Loan Planner(r) calculator to enter your numbers and estimate how much it will cost to pay off your debt in a certain timeframe. Alternatively, you could refinance your law school debt and save on interest costs.

Living Expenses

Law school tuition and living expenses are the two primary cost drivers for law students. Depending on where you live and the type of housing available, these expenses could add up to $15,000 annually to the average cost of attending law school.

In 2020, the average ABA-collected three-year law school tuition cost for in-state students was $186,549 – nearly four times the national average for undergraduate students and more than six times that for out-of-state students. As a result, many lawyers are burdened with excessive debt loads.

It’s essential for aspiring lawyers to comprehend the financial commitment they are making by attending a particular law school. To do this, one should look into the school’s return on investment – an easy-to-calculate figure which compares your potential post-graduation salary with the true cost of attending that particular law school.

If a law school has an excellent reputation for education its graduates, it may also be able to offer grants or scholarships that don’t need to be repaid. These awards can provide significant savings on tuition at the school.

While you should always look into your school’s financial aid package, it’s best to budget for yourself rather than relying on grants and scholarships. You need to determine how much money you can afford to spend on food, utilities, transportation and other living costs.

Another thing you should keep in mind is the total cost of attending law school varies considerably between schools, making it impossible to accurately estimate exactly what you will need for tuition and living expenses. Create a realistic budget with support from family, spouse and/or friends as needed and work together towards reaching it.

As a law student, you should strive to find employment and start paying down debt as soon as possible after graduation. Although this can be an up-and-down decision, if there are no jobs in your field within two or three years after graduating, consider working in the public sector temporarily in order to keep your debt from increasing while working toward larger opportunities in the private sector.

Student Loans

If you plan to pursue a legal career, student loans may be necessary for your law school education. These loans help cover tuition and fees as well as living expenses while in school, during summers between years of study, and after graduation.

Your debt load will be determined by a variety of factors, such as which institution you attend and your personal financial situation. Students attending public schools within their home state tend to borrow significantly less than those attending private institutions.

Dedication to budgeting is key, so Bonito suggests planning to live within your means and under-borrowing whenever possible. Borrowing too much will result in higher interest payments than necessary.

Your law school’s financial aid office will use its Cost of Attendance (COA) formula to calculate federal loan borrowing limits. Your package should also contain details about scholarships, grants and other forms of assistance you may be eligible for.

Make sure you qualify for all types of federal student aid available to you and understand the terms of each loan. Furthermore, knowing the total cost of attending law school plus local living expenses will help determine how much education will cost overall.

It’s essential to consider the impact that accumulated interest will have on your debt after graduation. The government does not subsidize interest for law students, so the longer it takes to repay your loans, the more in interest fees you’ll owe.

Prior to attending law school, it’s wise to pay off any existing consumer debt you may have – including credit card debt. Since interest on credit card debt isn’t included in a law school’s COA, reducing this type of debt should be your top priority before beginning classes at the university.


Law school debt can be a significant burden to bear. If you’re finding it difficult to make ends meet and your current monthly payments are causing you stress, then it may be time for you to refinance your student loans.

Refinancing your law school loans with a bank or another private lender could help lower the interest rate or provide you with more affordable repayment plans. But it’s essential that you do your due diligence and thoroughly research all available options before selecting one.

First, determine how much you can cut back on living expenses to help pay down debt more quickly and efficiently. Doing this may involve eliminating some unnecessary items in your budget as well as building up an emergency fund or savings to cover unexpected costs.

Additionally, you may want to investigate scholarships and fellowships offered by your law school or outside scholarship programs that could offer a substantial discount. According to AccessLex Institute’s Norwood-Struppa, these resources can be invaluable in reducing the overall cost of attending law school.

If you don’t have enough credit or income to qualify for a refinance on your own, many lenders provide refinancing with a cosigner. They agree to assume responsibility for any missed payments or defaults on your loan if you don’t make them yourself.

A reliable cosigner can help you obtain a lower interest rate and may even increase your chances of approval. Furthermore, some companies provide cosigner release options which enable you to remove them once your financial situation improves.

When looking into law school refinancing, be sure to select a lender you can trust and collaborate with throughout the process. Establishing an effective relationship with those responsible for managing your debt is essential in reaching financial success.

Escape debt can seem like an impossible goal, but with the right strategy and patience you can make progress towards your objectives. A solid financial plan, an organized budget, and adequate safety net are essential for reaching success no matter what type of debt you may be carrying.