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 can 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 $25,424 per year. The average at most of the other area schools is $47,000 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 average student budget at Rutgers is $42,580 per year. The typical law school budget in the New York City metropolitan area is $70,000 per year.
Over the next three or four years of law school, these numbers will grow and will have a significant impact on your debt. 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.
Did You Know That . . .
• Rutgers–Newark graduates have one of the lowest debt levels of New York area law school graduates.
• Most Rutgers–Newark students receive hands-on legal experience working on real cases in our Clinical Program