In most American families, the conversation is about the financial viability of a law degree when it's admission time in colleges. Why wouldn't it be? The education is expensive, whether it's in-state college or out of state.
For public four-year-college for in-state students, the yearly cost of education (for tuition and fees) is around $10,000 and it's $26,000 for out-of-state students. In private, it goes up to $35,000 annually.
While student loans are one way to fund your education, there are many other ways to obtain your professional degree and not spend a big part of your career paying for it. Here are three other ways that you can pay for the top law school that you desperately want to get into.
Use your savings
The first step to paying for law school is to start with your savings. While you want to ensure that you have some money set aside in savings for emergencies and you can comfortably cover your monthly bills, using the money you already have to kickstart your tuition budget is the smartest move you can make.
You should create a monthly budget for your living expenses as well as your tuition to determine how much money you'll need each month. Armed with this information, you can decide how much of your savings you can use towards tuition.
Enlist the help of a financial advisor if this seems like a daunting task to you. They will be able to assist you in make the smartest and most valuable financial decisions.
Use "free" money
Wherever possible, seek out opportunities for "free" money. By free money, we mean grants, scholarships, internships and assistantships. All of these involve money that you do not need to pay back. As many as 59% of graduate students complete their education with some form of scholarship or financial aid.
Scoring well on your LSAT (law school admission test) will put you in good standing with firms offering scholarships, so bear that in mind when you prepare for your test. Approach law firms like Lemberg Law that offer scholarships to law students for a number of scholarships every year.
Cash-flow as much as possible
Contrary to popular belief, you can cash-flow a law degree. Most people think that when you are studying towards a professional degree, you won't have time to work to cash-flow your tuition. This is not true. You can work a part-time job while studying and make as much money as possible towards your tuition.
Most graduate programs limit students to around 20 hours per week of work during the semester to ensure that you are dedicating enough time to your studies. However, during the summer, you are free to work full time and make as much money as possible to cash-flow your degree.
Additionally, making smart financial decisions can put you in good financial standing to cash-flow your education. Opting for simple housing and driving an affordable car are just two ways to save money while completing law school.
You need to remember that you are a student and living on a student's budget can help you make it through without getting too far into debt.
If these options don't work out for you…
Find a school that you can afford
If you are dead set on becoming a lawyer but don't have the savings, cash-flow or scholarship options available to you and you don't want to go into debt for it, then look around at different schools.
While the school you want to attend may carry a level of prestige, if leaving school without loan debt is a priority for you, then look for an in-state, public school that offers tuition at a third of the cost of Yale or Harvard.
If you have already taken a loan and are failing to pay it, there's also an option to seek loan forgiveness. Under this, you may be allowed to pay only a part of your loan amount or in some cases, it's totally waived off.
This item was posted by a community contributor.