Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Law School Financial Aid Works

You've decided to become a lawyer. Now you just have to figure out how on earth you're going to pay for it.
You've decided to become a lawyer. Now you just have to figure out how on earth you're going to pay for it.
Stockbyte/Getty Images

It's doubtful any other occupation has been singled out as ruthlessly as lawyers by the jokesters of the world, whose punch lines typically roast the soullessness and greed of attorneys everywhere. There are even jokes about the jokes. But despite the fact that they're setting themselves up to be the brunt of a stream of sarcastic wisecracks, lots of people are still interested in working as lawyers. As of 2008, in fact, there were 759,200 lawyers in the United States, a number expected to rise to a projected 857,700 lawyers by 2018 [source: U.S. Department of Labor].

For all those who were salaried in 2008, the median annual wages were $110,590 [source: U.S. Department of Labor]. Incomes like that probably help with a forced chuckle when it comes to all the weak witticisms at lawyers' expense. But when it comes to actually paying for law school, that's no laughing matter for prospective lawyers. Around 80 percent of all law school students end up taking out loans to help foot the bill -- which can range from a few thousand dollars a year to more than $50,000 a year, for tuition alone [source: Law School Admission Council]. Once you consider books and transportation, on top of regular living expenses, the overall cost to attend law school can quickly creep into the six figures.

If you're still sold on the idea of spending three arduous years and copious quantities of money on a legal education, at this point you're probably wondering how to cover the cost until you're pulling in six figures of your own. Well, for the full run-down on all the different types of college financial aid and how to secure them, check out How College Financial Aid Works. On the next page, we'll discuss some of the most common ways people pay for law school in particular and what you can expect in the process.


More to Explore