Figured out how to pay for Law School? You’re only 3/4s of the way done…

January 19, 2012
Kaplan LSAT

As we gear up for next week’s episode of “The 180 – Live: Law School Debt Free”, we thought we’d share some interesting insights on financing a legal education.

First up, if you have an extra 45-minutes to kill, the LSAC (Law School Admissions Council) has released a video outlining the process of paying for law school.  It’s simply a recording of a seminar given at a past LSAC forum event, but I think you’ll find it quite informative nonetheless.  We’ll be discussing some highlights from the video this week that we think you’ll find intriguing.

In the section entitled, “Funding Your Law School Education”, Dr. Jeffrey E. Hanson, Ph.D., Educational Consultant with the LSAC walks you through how to calculate your expected expenses when applying for financial aid.  Of course the usuals are covered like tuition (public in-state vs. public out-of-state vs. private), but Dr. Hanson also discusses they ways in which “Cost of Attendance” is calculated by schools, which determines the maximum amount of funds you’ll be eligible to borrow for an academic year.  Some interesting assumptions are revealed:

  • Housing costs presume you will be living with another student and will therefore be divided.  Want to live by yourself?  You need to budget for that outside of financial aid.
  • While transportation costs are included, it’s minimal, usually zero unless the school is located in an urban area with an obvious transportation network.  Car payments, of any kind, are not included in the calculation.  Want a sweet ride?  You’ll need to budget for that outside of financial aid.
  • If you have special circumstances, like caring for a child, schools can adjust your Cost of Attendance for borrowing purposes to include for child care during the times you are attending class, but additional living expenses such as food, travel and supplies cannot be included.  You’ll need to budget for that outside of financial aid.

And just when you think you have it all figured out, there’s more.  You see, you’re only eligible for financial aid during the time you are actually in class.  For most of you, that means 9 months of the year – excluding summers.  Additional income will need to be earned some other way, such as a part time job.  Understand school calculated “Cost of Attendance” is not meant to be prescriptive.  Use the information provided, assess the ways in which you’re likely to spend your money, and as a general rule, whatever you think you’ll need to borrow, plan to add 25% of supplemental income achieved some other way.  You’ve heard the old adage I’m sure, “if you live like a lawyer while you’re in law school, plan to live like a law student when you get out.”

Of course, the best advice?  Minimize your debt.  We share with you how to best position yourself to get into – and out of – law school debt free on Tuesday night at 8pm ET, 5pm PT.  Register to join us, won’t you?

Kaplan LSAT

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