How Much Does Law School Cost?

The cost of law school – factoring in tuition, fees, room and board, and more – is high at many institutions. Here's the data so you can decide if law school is a good financial decision.

Law SchoolTuitionRoom & Board FeesTotal
Albany Law School of Union University$47,450$10,750$58,200
American University (Washington College of Law)$56,724$18,360$75,084
Appalachian School of Law$35,500$8,930$44,430
Arizona State University$27,584$12,688$40,272
Arizona Summit Law School$45,354$22,100$67,454
Atlanta's John Marshall Law SchoolN/AN/AN/A
Ave Maria School of Law$42,206$14,562$56,768
Barry UniversityN/AN/AN/A
Baylor University$62,432$13,719$76,151
Belmont University$44,470$15,900$60,370
Boston College$54,750$14,000$68,750
Boston University$55,076$13,775$68,851
Brigham Young University (Clark)$13,060$12,720$25,780
Brooklyn Law School$55,038$18,650$73,688
California Western School of Law$52,470$16,320$68,790
Campbell University (Wiggins)$41,130$13,300$54,430
Capital University$37,001$16,711$53,712
Cardozo-Yeshiva University$60,610$19,700$80,310
Case Western Reserve University$52,070$20,704$72,774
Catholic University of America (Columbus)$51,112$16,792$67,904
Chapman University$53,124$20,700$73,824
Charleston School of Law$42,134$13,118$55,252
Charlotte School of LawN/AN/AN/A
Cleveland State University (Cleveland-Marshall)$27,209$14,516$41,725
College of William and Mary (Marshall-Wythe)$34,000$15,170$49,170
Columbia University$69,916$19,190$89,106
Concordia University$30,343$11,244$41,587
Cornell University$65,541$16,766$82,307
Creighton University$40,096$16,200$56,296
CUNY-Queens College$15,563$14,823$30,386
DePaul University$48,166$14,170$62,336
Drake University$41,512$18,710$60,222
Drexel University (Kline)$44,195$13,828$58,023
Duke University$64,722$12,916$77,638
Duquesne University$44,944$12,586$57,530
Elon University$46,140$14,220$60,360
Emory University$57,348$18,918$76,266
Faulkner University (Jones)$39,185$14,000$53,185
Florida A&M University$14,132$13,240$27,372
Florida Coastal School of Law$39,900$5,786$45,686
Florida International University$21,806$19,106$40,912
Florida State University$40,705$10,000$50,705
Fordham University$60,406$20,010$80,416
GMU Antonin Scalia Law School$25,354$18,730$44,084
George Washington University$60,790$21,000$81,790
Georgetown University$62,244$21,986$84,230
Georgia State University$36,658$9,500$46,158
Golden Gate University$50,000$16,200$66,200
Gonzaga University$40,665$13,155$53,820
Hamline University$43,534$13,800$57,334
Harvard University$64,978$24,508$89,486
Hofstra University$59,214$18,722$77,936
Howard University$34,194$18,808$53,002
IIT Chicago-Kent$47,644$14,967$62,611
Indiana University-Bloomington$35,588$12,972$48,560
Indiana University-Indianapolis$49,254$12,706$61,960
John Marshall Law School$47,500$14,904$62,404
Lewis & Clark Law School (Northwestern)$46,370$15,750$62,120
Liberty University$36,862$12,144$49,006
Lincoln Memorial University (Duncan)$36,420$15,000$51,420
Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge$23,660$15,074$38,734
Loyola Marymount University$57,230$18,090$75,320
Loyola University Chicago$48,506$16,000$64,506
Loyola University New Orleans$44,330$14,434$58,764
Marquette University$46,170$13,314$59,484
Mercer University$38,716$11,790$50,506
Michigan State University$44,400$13,180$57,580
Mississippi College$35,510$12,375$47,885
Mitchell Hamline School of Law$43,534N/AN/A
New England School of Law$49,408$13,540$62,948
New York Law School$51,732$23,759$75,491
New York University$66,422$24,400$90,822
North Carolina Central University$18,738$12,308$31,046
Northeastern University$50,700$17,100$67,800
Northern Illinois University$22,179$13,766$35,945
Northern Kentucky University (Chase)$20,332$9,912$30,244
Northwestern University (Pritzker)$64,402$16,236$80,638
Nova Southeastern University (Broad)$41,200$18,108$59,308
Ohio Northern University (Pettit)$29,160$9,282$38,442
Ohio State University (Moritz)$30,854$11,954$42,808
Oklahoma City University$35,340$12,600$47,940
Pace University (Haub)$48,614$15,590$64,204
Penn State Law (Dickinson)$50,582$10,936$61,518
Penn State Law (University Park)$50,984$12,704$63,688
Pepperdine University (McConnell)$55,890$17,500$73,390
Quinnipiac University$49,540$10,373$59,913
Regent University$36,620$13,500$50,120
Roger Williams University$36,815$7,650$44,465
Rutgers Law, SUNJ$28,359$14,362$42,721
Samford University (Cumberland)$40,150$9,850$50,000
Santa Clara University$50,624$17,298$67,922
Seattle University$46,586$18,162$64,748
Seton Hall University$54,090$14,076$68,166
South Texas College of Law Houston$32,400$13,770$46,170
Southern Illinois University$22,564$14,272$36,836
Southern Methodist University$54,094$19,800$73,894
Southern University Law Center$16,490$14,000$30,490
Southwestern University School of Law$53,966$20,520$74,486
St. John's University$59,480$20,810$80,290
St. Louis University$42,154$11,740$53,894
St. Mary's University$36,550$12,456$49,006
St. Thomas University School of Law$42,190$18,500$60,690
Stanford University$62,373$25,998$88,371
Stetson University$43,880$9,544$53,424
Suffolk University$48,990$10,424$59,414
Syracuse University$51,422$13,100$64,522
Temple University (Beasley)$27,103$14,200$41,303
Texas A&M University$31,000$20,502$51,502
Texas Southern University (Marshall)$20,418$20,819$41,237
Texas Tech University$26,840$9,772$36,612
Thomas Jefferson School of Law$49,500$18,000$67,500
Touro College (Fuchsberg)$49,800$18,064$67,864
Tulane University$56,572$14,550$71,122
University at Buffalo-SUNY$27,964$13,651$41,615
University of Akron$24,214$11,524$35,738
University of Alabama$42,180$12,702$54,882
University of Arizona (Rogers)$30,326$12,250$42,576
University of Arkansas-Fayetteville$16,188$11,020$27,208
University of Arkansas-Little Rock (Bowen)$16,031$8,260$24,291
University of Baltimore$31,954$19,350$51,304
University of California-Berkeley$49,325$24,160$73,485
University of California-Davis$47,723$14,809$62,532
University of California-Hastings$44,326$19,008$63,334
University of California-Irvine$45,099$23,884$68,983
University of California-Los Angeles$45,600$18,612$64,212
University of Chicago$64,089$17,100$81,189
University of Cincinnati$24,010$12,102$36,112
University of Colorado-Boulder$31,898$13,302$45,200
University of Connecticut$30,338$12,676$43,014
University of Dayton School of Law$34,580$16,000$50,580
University of Denver (Sturm)$50,942$15,048$65,990
University of Detroit Mercy$44,220$11,682$55,902
University of Florida (Levin)$21,803$12,860$34,663
University of Georgia$19,708$11,876$31,584
University of Hawaii (Richardson)$23,164$13,689$36,853
University of Houston$32,093$11,076$43,169
University of Idaho$38,622$10,654$49,276
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign$48,118$13,710$61,828
University of Iowa$27,344$11,438$38,782
University of Kansas$22,562$10,054$32,616
University of Kentucky$24,046$12,814$36,860
University of Louisville (Brandeis)$21,988$9,414$31,402
University of Maine$23,640$9,850$33,490
University of Maryland$48,741$15,750$64,491
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth$28,626$15,898$44,524
University of Memphis (Humphreys)$19,197$10,425$29,622
University of Miami$52,390$19,508$71,898
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor$59,762$15,250$75,012
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities$44,919$13,778$58,697
University of Mississippi$16,550$12,056$28,606
University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou)$21,837$9,156$30,993
University of Missouri-Kansas City$19,440$10,314$29,754
University of Montana (Blewett)$13,177$12,480$25,657
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill$24,172$17,800$41,972
University of Nebraska-Lincoln$36,918$12,330$49,248
University of Nevada-Las Vegas (Boyd)$38,923$15,004$53,927
University of New Hampshire School of Law$43,305$11,000$54,305
University of New Mexico$17,349$9,864$27,213
University of North Dakota School of Law$13,023$8,974$21,997
University of Notre Dame$58,358$10,100$68,458
University of Oklahoma$32,288$11,564$43,852
University of Oregon$35,418$11,850$47,268
University of Pennsylvania$65,804$16,830$82,634
University of Pittsburgh$34,834$18,262$53,096
University of Richmond$44,700$12,330$57,030
University of San Diego$40,461$14,694$55,155
University of San Francisco$49,820$19,350$69,170
University of South Carolina$29,608$13,666$43,274
University of South Dakota School of Law$16,944$8,538$25,482
University of Southern California (Gould)$64,908$17,802$82,710
University of St. Thomas$42,190$14,000$56,190
University of Tennessee-Knoxville$19,674$13,146$32,820
University of Texas at Austin$35,715$12,930$48,645
University of the District of Columbia (Clarke)$12,838N/AN/A
University of the Pacific (McGeorge)$34,110$13,887$47,997
University of Toledo$32,863$11,904$44,767
University of Tulsa$25,254$9,930$35,184
University of Utah (S.J. Quinney)$37,011$10,980$47,991
University of Virginia$63,700$13,474$77,174
University of Washington$47,190$15,936$63,126
University of Wisconsin-Madison$23,517$12,174$35,691
University of Wyoming$16,775$12,703$29,478
Valparaiso UniversityN/AN/AN/A
Vanderbilt University$57,558$15,710$73,268
Vermont Law School$49,279$9,000$58,279
Villanova University (Widger)$46,535$16,650$63,185
Wake Forest University$46,409$12,236$58,645
Washburn University$22,429$10,993$33,422
Washington and Lee University$49,355$15,625$64,980
Washington University in St. Louis$57,445$14,400$71,845
Wayne State University$32,882$14,148$47,030
West Virginia University$24,084$11,970$36,054
Western Michigan University (Cooley)$50,750$12,030$62,780
Western New England College$42,218$13,000$55,218
Western State University$29,150$20,616$49,766
Whittier Law SchoolN/AN/AN/A
Widener University (Commonwealth)$45,870$12,150$58,020
Widener University (Delaware)$50,616$12,510$63,126
Willamette University$44,185N/AN/A
Yale University$64,267$17,595$81,862

The cost of law school is composed of several parts: (1) tuition; (2) room and board; (3) borrowing costs and (4) opportunity cost. Only after considering all four factors can you truly understand the cost of attendance at a law school. The total cost numbers provided to law students often neglect  to explain the true cost to go to law school. In this article, we’ll help you understand how much you’re likely to spend to obtain a legal education, including considering expenses during the summer and thinking about concepts like opportunity cost (since you’ll be giving up earning potential).

Let’s go through each factor one at a time.


Law school tuition is mostly straightforward. Each year, your law school will set its tuition rates and publish law school costs for the academic year. You’ll find data for each ABA accredited law school in the table at the beginning of the article.

However, it’s important to remember that tuition is likely to increase each year. Over the past 20 years, even when you adjust for inflation, attendance at a private law school is 2.76 times as expensive. At public schools, it’s 5.92 times as expensive.

Since your tuition will be increasing, you can’t take this year’s tuition number and multiply it by the three years that it takes to attend law school with the expectation that the result is your “total tuition cost”.

To get an accurate number, I’d add a 4% annual increase to your tuition calculation. That means your first year of law school you’ll pay the advertised rate. Your second year of law school you can expect to pay an additional 4%. By your third year of law school, you can expect to pay an additional 4% on top of your second year tuition.

Ultimately, tuition isn’t something that is within your control (other than picking which law school to attend), so it’s probably the easiest piece to calculate when you’re figuring out the true cost of attendance.

Room and board

Each law school publishes their expectation for living expenses to cover the cost of a law student’s housing and food expenses for an academic year. Keep in mind that these are expectations for the average cost for such expenses and don’t include expenses if you have a special circumstance.

What might be a special circumstance? Well, things like having a family or needing to support another person aren’t going to be factored into your room and board.

The good news is that, unlike tuition, room and board is something that you have some ability to control. It’s a perfect time in your life to continue living like a student with roommates and sharing expenses. Even if you can’t live with roommates, you can continue to keep costs down by delaying expensive purchases like buying a home or “upgrading” to a larger living space.

Room and board expenses will also increase over the three years of law school, so plan for that as well. I’d estimate that your room and board expenses will increase by at least 3% each year to cover inflation.

Law schools do not include your summer expenses in their room and board calculations, which means you’ll have to figure out a way to fund rent and food during the summer months. When you’re calculating how much law school costs, you need to factor in that you’ll also have to cover these expenses, so the entire cost of your JD program might be $20,000 – $30,000 more than you expected when simply looking at the tuition and room and board numbers.

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Borrowing costs

Accrued interest

Law students (myself included) forget that financial aid isn’t free. You begin incurring expenses immediately, even if you’re able to defer paying those expenses for years.

Graduate PLUS loans start at 7%+ interest rates and you’ll begin accruing interest as soon as the loan is disbursed. For a $100,000 loan that means you’ll owe $107,000 by the time you start your second year, $114,000 by the time you start your third year and $121,000 by the time you finish law school. That’s an extra 21% for each dollar you borrow during your first year.

It’s really worth spending a few minutes hammering this point home. Whether you’re attending the best law school according to U.S. News and World Report or you’re happy paying in-state tuition at a local school, if you’re borrowing from the federal government, you’re borrowing 21% more than you think you’re borrowing during your first year before you ever have a chance of beginning to repay it.

Many, many lawyers only borrow $200,000 and are surprised to have balanced at graduation of $240,000. This is how that happens. 

Origination fees

In addition to paying interest, you’ll also get charged an origination fee for each loan that is disbursed. Those fees range from 1% up to greater than 4% for Graduate PLUS loans. 

For every $100,000 you borrow, you’ll immediately forfeit up to $4,000 off the top. The loan fee is deducted from each disbursement, so you’ll never see the money but will be required to pay back the full amount of the student loan. 

If you borrow more than $200,000, you could easily pay over $10,000 in origination fees alone.

Opportunity cost

The final factor to consider is the opportunity cost of going to law school and obtaining a law degree. Whether you’re attending full-time or part-time, you would be working and receiving a salary if you weren’t attending law school.

If you take that annual salary and multiply it by three, you’ll have an understanding of the lost earnings had you continued to work instead of attending law school.

How Much Does Law School Cost?

Now that you’ve added everything up, you understand that the cost of attendance is likely to be significantly higher than the advertised rate. You also understand that you’re giving up a salary by attending law school, which means your total cost of attending law school is likely 80-100% higher than you were expecting.

Only you can decide if law school is worth the total costs. It has been for me, but with average tuition rising in the United States and many lawyers interested in pursuing public service work rather than working at law firms, you’ll need to make sure you fully understand the total price of law school before you make the decision. 

Have Questions?

The average annual tuition and fees at a private law school for the current academic year is $49,458. Attending a public law school costs an average of $28,264 for in-state tuition and $41,726 for out-of-state tuition.

The cost of each year of law school at Harvard is $64,978, plus $24,508 for room and board, totaling $89,486 per year. Over the course of a three-year law school education, the total cost of law school at Harvard would exceed $268,458.

The cheapest law school is the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, where tuition is $12,838 per year. In a recent year, 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 application fee per law school typically ranges between $60 and $100. LSAC will also charge you a $30 fee for each law school report it sends. The average student applies to nine law schools, meaning you can expect to spend over $1,000 applying to law school. To minimize law school application costs, request application fee waivers from the law school admission offices.

Law school textbooks can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,250 per year, making them a significant cost in addition to tuition and housing. To save money, law students can buy used books or rent books as needed during the semester.

According to a survey of recent law school graduates by AccessLex, less than 50% of lawyers “strongly agree” that their legal degree was worth the cost. For graduates with more than $100,000 in student loan debt, only 23 percent of lawyers “strongly agree” that their degree was worth what they paid.