Law school will be one of the most challenging and exhilarating experiences of your life. It also will be one of your most important and expensive investments. More than 88 percent of current law students rely heavily on loans to finance their legal education. Because the amount of debt incurred during law school could impact your career choices and your financial well-being for many years after graduation, it is important to do a careful cost-benefit analysis of the schools you are considering. Two important questions are:
What will tuition and student fees cost?
This number will usually increase from year to year. Currently, full-time tuition and student fees at Rutgers are $26,084 per year. Average tuition and student fees at the 12 other metropolitan area law schools is $46,935 per year.
What other expenses should I plan for?
When calculating the cost of attending law school, students should include the cost of books, housing, food, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses. These items, when added to the cost of tuition and fees, make up your student budget. The current budget for a full-time Rutgers law student living off campus is $48,840 per year. The typical budget for a full-time law student living off campus at the 12 other metropolitan area law schools averages $71,152 per year.
Over the three or four years of law school, these numbers will grow and will have a significant impact on your debt. We strongly encourage our students to live frugally while in school and borrow the minimum amount possible. Cutting unnecessary expenses and budgeting could help keep your costs below your estimated school budget. This is important because not every graduate will earn a six-figure salary at a major law firm, and not every graduate will want to work in the large corporate law firm setting. Many law students prefer mid-size or smaller firms; others are committed to public interest/public service careers. Salaries in these venues will be lower, so law school expenses and debt will play an important role in your post-graduation planning. Thinking carefully now about financial considerations — and living on a modest budget while in law school — will make it easier to realize your career goals.