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 tuition rates without needing to resort to student loan debt in the hundreds of thousands. Does that sound good? Read on and get ready to start applying!
1. University of the District of Columbia (Clarke)
Annual tuition: $12,838
The most affordable school of law in the U.S. (both when it comes to the out-of-state and in-state tuition) is the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (or UDC Law), which is a part of the University of the District of Columbia.
This public law school was established in 1986 and is located in Washington, DC, and is easily accessible by metro, bus, or car. In a recent class, the university enrolled 247 law students (63% of which were racial minorities, making it one of the most diverse law schools in the U.S.) and the median LSAT score was 147.
The campus size is 23 acres and students can participate in over 30 organizations, according to their interests in the realm of social justice and law. The fact that it is located in the capital means you’ll have access to many exciting and enriching opportunities during the degree.
UDC Law also offers a part-time evening program, ideal if you want to work and study simultaneously, which can make it even easier to afford your law degree.
2. University of North Dakota School of Law
Annual tuition: $13,023
Second on our list is the University of North Dakota School of Law, a public law school that is a part of the University of North Dakota (UND) and is located in Grand Forks, ND.
This law program has been operating since 1899 and has 17 professors, 2 visiting professors, and 20 affiliated members who tutor approximately 240 students, making it one of the smallest student populations when it comes to law schools. The school also has over 3000 alumni, including well-known names such as Kelly Armstrong and Earl Pomeroy.
The median LSAT to join the UND Law School is 148 and, like the previous university, this one has a focus on diversity, enrolling many students who are a part of minorities or who come from other countries.
Besides the J.D. degree, this school also offers programs in law and public administration, business administration, Indian law, and aviation law. The employment score is very favorable and 85% of students reported to be employed nine months after graduation.
3. Brigham Young University (Clark)
Annual tuition: $13,060
Brigham Young University is a private research university, that is located in Provo, Utah, and was established 144 years ago. It has a religious affiliation, as it is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS Church), which means that its students agree to follow a specific honor code in line with the LDS beliefs.
The campus size is 560 acres and it has 295 buildings, including a Museum of Art, a Museum of Peoples and Cultures, a Museum of Paleontology, on-campus houses, a basketball arena, and more.
In 2019, there were over 33 thousand students at Brigham Young University, as well as almost 2500 academic and administrative staff. The school offers 179 majors, 62 masters, and 26 doctoral degrees, and in 2017, the average GPA for admitted students was 3.86, with an average ACT of 29.5 and SAT of 1300.
In 2019, this law school was ranked number 1 “Worth the Cost” college by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education, as well as number 1 on Forbes’ list of “America’s Best Value Colleges 2019.”
4. University of Montana (Blewett)
Annual tuition: $13,177
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 education in trial advocacy and dispute resolution, Indian law, and business and tax laws, but 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 221 full-time students and in 2017, 45,1% of former students had gotten a full-time job in the area for at least one year.
In 2019, the school got 119th place in the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings.
5. Florida A&M University
Annual tuition: $14,132
FAMU College of Law is a part of the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and it is an ABA-accredited public law school that’s been around since 1949 in Orlando, Florida.
This school has 602 students and 72 staff members, and it is the only historically black college that has been accepted into the International Association of Law Schools. It has its own law library, which is open not only to students but to the general public.
The college offers full-time and part-time evening programs, both of which include a traditional curriculum with theoretical coursework, a three-year writing program, a clinical program, practical experiences and community service.
In 2015, 34,7% of graduates obtained a full-time, long-term, and bar passage required job within ten months of concluding their degree.
6. CUNY-Queens College
Annual tuition: $15,563
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 enrolled accepted 31.9% of its candidates and the median LSAT was 153.
This university, which was established in 1983, has a focus 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 2018, the U.S. News and World Report ranked this school’s clinical trial number 3 in the country. In the same year, 64 out of 95 graduates got a full-time, long-term, bar passage required job within nine months of finishing their degree and their average salary was $64,012.
7. University of Arkansas-Little Rock (Bowen)
Annual tuition: $16,031
The William H. Bowen School of Law is a part of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and it has been open since 1975. This is a public law school that is both ABA-accredited, as well as a member of the Association of American Law Schools.
The campus is located near many of the largest law firms and corporations in Arkansas, as well as many attractions, such as the MacArthur Park, Heifer International, several museums, markets, and more. On the campus, there is the Pulaski County Law Library, which is the only library in the county.
In 2019, the U.S. News and World Report ranked the William H. Bowen School of Law as #37 in Part-time Law and in 2016, it was considered one of the best schools for public service careers.
In 2019, the school matriculated 157 students in their full-time program and 32 students in their part-time program, with a median LSAT of 155 and a GPA of 3.35. The university also has alumni with some notable names, such as Rhonda K. Wood and Davy Carter.
Regarding the programs available, you’ll find a big variety of course concentrations to pick from, including Criminal Law, Labor and Employment, and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Furthermore, the school has several clinics where students can work with real clients in the areas that interest them the most.
8. University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
Annual tuition: $16,188
The University of Arkansas School of Law has been a part of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville since 1924 and it is a state, public, ABA-accredited school.
The law center is located in Washington County in Northwest Arkansas and it includes a courtyard, a courtroom, classrooms, and the Young Law Library, where students have access not only to law books but also to a computer lab, a coffee shop, and a lounge.
The university has a legal clinic where students can work on real-life cases, providing legal services to charities, government or individuals with financial difficulties at no cost. In this clinic, students can choose cases in several legal areas, such as Criminal Prosecution, Advanced Mediation Clinic, and Pro Bono Program.
When it comes to rankings, this school was considered the 91st best law school in the U.S., in 2019.
9. Southern University Law Center
Annual tuition: $16,490
The Southern University Law Center was established in September of 1947 as a public law school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The school 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.
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
The Southern University Law Center had a total enrollment of 619 students in 2018-2019, and the median LSAT in 2018 was 144 for full-time students. This historically black school stands out for its diversity and in 2018, SULC ranked it #3 in the presence of minority staff and #8 in the presence of minority students.
10. University of Mississippi
Annual tuition: $16,550
Last but not least, the University of Mississipi has its own School of Law, which is also known as Ole Miss Law and is an ABA-accredited public school founded in 1854 and located in Oxford, Mississipi.
The school has a student-faculty ratio of 18.2:1, with 34 full-time and adjunct professors in several legal areas of practice. The university offers four concentration programs: Business Law, Criminal Law, Sports and Entertainment Law, and Air and Space Law ( which is the only one of its kind in the country and one of the only ones in the world).
For the class of 2022, 157 were enrolled, with a median LSAT of 155 and a median GPA of 3.48. The current ABA Bar passage is 82,57% and the college has some well-known names in its alumni, such as John Grisham and Matthew Sharpe.
The Ole Miss Law was considered by the U.S. News and World Report the 108th best law school in America.
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 and that 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.