Going to law school isn’t exactly cheap. In fact, it is getting more expensive to get a legal education in the United States each year.
But don’t panic just yet!
Deciding to limit your budget doesn’t mean you can’t follow your dream of starting a career in law. The reality is that there are countless law schools all over the country, and with so many options, the chances of finding a law school that you can afford are pretty high.
I’ve gathered the ten cheapest law schools in the U.S., where you can get your Juris Doctor at reasonable in-state tuition rates without needing to resort to student loan debt in the hundreds of thousands. Does that sound good? Don’t make law school longer than it already is. Read on for the best-value law schools and get ready to start applying!
The 10 Most Affordable Law Schools
A list of the 10 cheapest law schools, academic credentials needed, tuition, acceptance rate and bar passage rate.
|Rank||Law School||Median LSAT||Median GPA||Annual Tuition||Cost of Attendance||Acceptance Rate||Bar Pass Rate||USNR Ranking||Enrolled||% minorities|
|1||Southern University Law Center||144||2.98||$11,338||$37,242||61.64%||57.80%||147-193||832||68.87%|
|2||University of South Dakota||149||3.56||$11,620||$18,844||64.00%||51.70%||134||215||10.70%|
|3||University of the District of Columbia||150||3.09||$12,438||$25,712||32.63%||70.10%||147-193||210||73.33%|
|4||University of Montana||156||3.44||$12,738||$14,941||59.91%||84.80%||134||257||17.51%|
|5||North Carolina Central||145||3.24||$13,444||$22,105||44.25%||67.20%||147-193||405||66.42%|
|6||Brigham Young University||166||3.82||$13,860||$37,072||36.70%||83.30%||-||346||15.61%|
|7||University of North Dakota||148||3.34||$14,296||$25,018||66.35%||72.30%||147-193||218||14.68%|
|8||Pontifical Catholic University||135||3.27||$15,000||$25,250||54.64%||52.08%||-||389||100.00%|
|10||University of Oklahoma||157||3.63||$15,720||$21,503||54.01%||76.70%||67||512||32.62%|
1. Southern University Law Center
Annual tuition: $11,338
The most affordable school of law in the U.S. (both when it comes to the out-of-state and in-state student tuition) is Southern University Law Center. It’s part of the Southern University System, which is the only HBCU system in the nation.
This public law school was established in 1947 and is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It offers full-time, part-time and evening programs, and it has a partnership with the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, which allows students to enroll in a joint-degree program and get both the JD and the MPA.
For the class of 2020, the university enrolled 322 law school students (81% of which were racial minorities, making it one of the most diverse law schools in the U.S.), and the median LSAT score was 144. Students can participate in over 30 organizations, including a Trial advocacy Board, Evening Law Student Association, and the Public Interest Law Society.
This university has a clinical program that has been distinguished as the 42nd best out of 216 others, and that includes seven varieties (which are optional for students in their second and third year): Administrative/Civil Law Clinic, Criminal Law Clinic, Domestic Violence Clinic, Elder Law Clinic, Juvenile Law Clinic, Low-income Taxpayer Clinic, and Mediation Clinic.
In 2022, the school was ranked 147th to 193rd in the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings.
2. University of South Dakota
Annual tuition: $11,620
The University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law is an ABA-accredited public law school that’s been around since 1901 in Vermillion, South Dakota.
This school has 215 students and 39 staff members. It is ranked among the Princeton Review’s annual “Best Law School” list and has a bar exam passage rate of 81.58%.
The college offers full-time and part-time programs, both of which include course tracks in business, litigation, criminal, environmental, tax law, and more. Additionally, the 3+3 fast track program lets you begin law school as a senior, allowing you to complete your bachelor’s degree using your first year of law school.
In 2022, the school got 134th place in the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings.
3. University of the District of Columbia
Annual tuition: $12,438
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law has been open since 1986. This is a public law school that is one of only six ABA-accredited HBCU law schools in the U.S.
The campus is located in Washington, D.C. It is about five miles north of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and several Smithsonian museums. The school is easy to get to by metro, car, taxi, or Uber — students and visitors will enjoy simple access to the Van Ness-UDC Metro Station on campus.
In 2022, the U.S. News and World Report ranked the college of law number six in clinical training among all U.S. law schools.
The University of the District of Columbia accepted just 169 out of 518 applicants in 2020 — a mere 32.63% acceptance rate. The school also had 122 students in their full-time program and 126 students in their part-time program, with a median LSAT of 150 and a GPA of 3.09.
Regarding the programs available, you’ll find a wide variety of course concentrations to pick from, including Criminal Law, Immigration Law and Human Rights, and Public Service and Policy. Furthermore, the school has several clinics where students can benefit from experiential learning opportunities.
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4. University of Montana (Blewett)
Annual tuition: $12,738
The University of Montana has seven colleges and two professional schools, including the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, which was established in 1911 in Missoula, Montana.
This school offers affordable in-state tuition fees, along with education in trial advocacy and dispute resolution, Indian law, and business and tax laws. It stands out because of its natural resource and environmental courses. Many students choose the latter due to the opportunities available, and this comes as no surprise, as the course made it to the top 27 environmental programs in the U.S.
Alexander Blewett III School of Law has 234 full-time students and, in 2020, 78% of former students had gotten a full-time job within ten months of graduating with a law degree.
In 2022, the school tied with the University of South Dakota for 134th place in the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings.
5. North Carolina Central University
Annual tuition: $13,444
North Carolina Central University is a public school in Durham, North Carolina — the heart of research triangle park. It has the honor of being the nation’s first public liberal arts institution for African American students.
The university offers two unique opportunities for students to gain admission and get a jump-start on their legal education. The first is a Performance Based Admissions Program (PBAP). It lets you gain entry to the fall semester for completing the non-credit program over two weeks. The second is the Summer Start Initiative (SSI), where you can start in June instead of August, giving you ample time to complete the fall semester.
Students have access to cutting-edge legal technology classes like artificial intelligence, block chain, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The university also has an externship program and a legal clinic where students can engage in the actual practice of law to prepare for future law firm employment.
When it comes to rankings, this school placed #147 to 193 in Best Law Schools according to U.S. News and World Report in 2022.
6. Brigham Young University (Clark)
Annual tuition: $13,860
Brigham Young University is a private research university. Located in Provo, Utah, it was founded in 1875. The J. Reuben Clark Brigham Young University Law School is a college of law with a religious affiliation — it receives support from and is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS Church). Because of this connection, its students agree to follow a specific honor code in line with the LDS beliefs.
The campus size is nearly 560 acres. It has 311 buildings, including a Museum of Art, a Museum of Peoples and Cultures, a Museum of Paleontology, on-campus houses, a basketball arena, and more.
There were over 36,000 students at Brigham Young University in 2019. The school offers 186 majors, 64 masters, and 26 doctoral degrees. In 2020, the average GPA for admitted students was 3.82, with an average ACT of 29.6 and LSAT of 166.
In 2019, this law school was ranked number 1 “Worth the Cost” college by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, and number 29 by the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings.
7. University of North Dakota School of Law
Annual tuition: $14,296
The affordable tuition costs of the University of North Dakota School of Law puts it in seventh place on our list. It’s a public law school that is a part of the University of North Dakota (UND), located in Grand Forks, ND.
This law program has been operating since 1899 and has 16 full-time faculty with 218 students, making it one of the smallest student bodies when it comes to law schools. The school also has over 3,000 alumni, including well-known names such as Kelly Armstrong and Earl Pomeroy.
The median LSAT to join the UND Law School is 148, and there’s a focus on diversity, enrolling many students who are a part of minorities or come from other countries.
Besides the J.D. degree, this school also offers programs in law and public administration, business administration, Indian law, public-interest law, and aviation law. The employment score is very favorable, and 85% of students reported to be employed nine months after graduation.
8. Pontifical Catholic University of P.R.
Annual tuition: $15,000
The School of Law of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico was founded in 1961. It sits on the main campus of the Pontifical Catholic University of P.R. on the southern part of the island in Ponce.
The university has a Roman Catholic affiliation and provides law studies and student exchange programs with other law schools in the U.S. and Spain.
The school of law is celebrating its 60-year history with a new multi-million dollar upgrade to the Spellman Building. This modernization provides students access to a new phase of quality education at the university.
The private law school is an ABA-accredited school with an acceptance rate of 54.64%. The average GPA is 3.27, and the LSAT score is 135. Students will enjoy the city setting of the 120-acre campus. Additionally, the internship program has over 40 practice centers to offer a hands-on legal services experience with their area of interest.
9. CUNY-Queens College
Annual tuition: $15,450
CUNY-Queens College is a parent to several different schools, one of them being the CUNY School of Law. This public school’s campus is located in Long Island City, a residential and commercial neighborhood in Queens, New York.
In 2020, the school accepted 34.53% of its candidates, and the median LSAT was 154.
This university, which was established in 1983, focuses on combining clinical teaching methods with traditional legal studies. During the first year of the curriculum, students complete seven substantive courses, Legal Research, and a Lawyering Seminar per semester. In their final year, students have ten practice clinics to choose from (including Criminal Defense, Family Law Practice Clinic, and Humans Rights & Gender Justice), which they must participate in for one or two semesters.
CUNY School of Law stands out for its justice initiatives: the university allows students to get involved in programs that aid immigrants, minorities, and citizen/non-citizen workers.
In 2020, the U.S. News and World Report ranked this school #102 in its Best Law Schools list.
10. University of Oklahoma
Annual tuition: $15,720
Last but not least, the University of Oklahoma has its College of Law, which is a premier public law school. The school is an ABA-accredited school that was founded in 1909 and is located about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City in Norman, Oklahoma.
The school has a student-faculty ratio of 13.1, with 38 full-time professors in several legal areas of practice. The university offers a variety of concentration programs to choose from, including American Indian and Indigenous Peoples Law, International and Comparative Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Estate Planning and Tax Law.
In 2020, 512 students were enrolled, and the bar passage rate was 54.01%.
The school got 67th place in the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings in 2022.
As you can see, deciding to practice law doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to graduate with six figures of student loan debt. There are many affordable law schools where you can still get a high-quality education, which will set you up for long-term success.
Joshua Holt A practicing private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor, Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He spends 10 minutes a month on Personal Capital keeping track of his money and is always negotiating better student loan refinancing bonuses for readers of the site.