Attending law school is no easy feat, and it isn’t cheap either. According to the US News World Report, the average annual tuition and fees at private law schools in the 2019-2020 academic year was $49,548, or $21,300 more than for public schools. With that kind of investment, it’s vital to pick the best school possible. When reviewing law schools to attend, of course, reputation, percentage of graduates passing the bar exam, and location are crucial factors; however, affordability might also be a major consideration. If you choose the right university, it is possible to earn your Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree without breaking the bank. Our list of cheapest law schools below will keep your student loans low and your law school ambitions high. Keep reading for the list of the top 20 cheapest law schools of 2020.
City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law is located in Flushing, New York, and is the only publicly-funded law school located in the city. The school values both public service and public interest law, and this is clear if you look at their program. In fact, more graduates from this school enter public interest law than any other in the country. CUNY School of Law’s legal education has received praise from the Carnegie Foundation and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for their academic model and dedication to public service. Along with their great program in 2010, 84.9 percent of the graduates passed their New York bar exam. Attending CUNY School of Law costs $11,952 for in-state tuition, but out-of-state students pay $18,732.
The only ABA-accredited law school in the state of North Dakota, University of North Dakota’s School of Law values high-quality legal education at an affordable price. In fact, the UND School of law boasts the lowest cost of attendance for any ranked law school in the entire country. Additionally, an intimate class setting provides a curriculum that is designed to produce well-rounded legal professionals. Full-time in-state tuition fees are a mere $10,163 while out-of-state tuition is also a feasible $22,323.
Located in Durham, North Carolina Central University’s School of Law is historically known as a black institution. The school commits to training a large number of lawyers who provide legal services to underserved people and their communities. Another great feature of the NCCU School of Law is that it has one of the most diverse student populations in the entire nation. In-state tuition is $9,961, while out of state student fees amount to $23,222.
Like NCCU, Southern University Law Center is renowned for being one of the nation’s most diverse law schools. Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Southern University Law Center’s mission is to provide quality education opportunities to students from all ethnicities, cultures, or socioeconomic conditions. The school is ranked in the top 10 most popular law schools in the United States. In-state tuition is $9,238 and out-of-state is $14,838.
The University of Alabama’s School of Law, located in Tuscaloosa, is the state’s only public law school. As such, the school boasts a diverse student body. University of Alabama’s School of Law has been ranked as one of the best in the nation, as well as one of the schools that offer the best value. It has a cross-disciplinary program, international program, and law clinics, to name a few. In-state students pay $15,760 while students coming from outside Alabama will have to disburse $28,070.
The University of Mississippi’s School of Law is the fourth oldest state-supported law school in the nation. Also known as Ole Miss Law School, it is the only ABA-accredited law school in the country that provides a curriculum dedicated just to aerospace law. Attending Ole Miss Law School full time will set you back $10,275 if you are from Mississippi and $22,470 if you are from out of state.
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law is the fifth oldest law school in the nation. The Brandeis School of law focuses on practical legal education. A great reason to look into this school is that recently 89 percent of their graduates passed their Kentucky bar exam. In-state tuition is $15,760. It is a little bit pricier for an out-of-state student, with fees amounting to $30,300.
Located in Missoula, the University of Montana’s School of Law is the only law school in the entire state. The school is known for its environmental and natural resources law program, which allows students to participate in the Public Land and Resource Law Review. If you are a resident of Montana, tuition fees are $11,062. Out-of-state tuition is $26,186.
Located in Washington D.C., the mission of the University of the District of Columbia’s Clarke School of Law is enrolling students from groups that are underrepresented at the bar. Additionally, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law prides itself on the fact that many of its lawyers are dedicated to helping the needy. Another impressive statistic is that 60 percent of their student body is women, while 51 percent belong to minorities. The cost of attending the school is just $8,850 for in-state and $17,700 for out-of-state.
Located in Lawrence, the University of Kansas’s School of Law ranks 79th in the list of the best law schools in the United States. And for good reason—they have an extremely high percentage of graduates who pass the state’s bar exam. In 2011, 91 percent of their graduates did so. To attend this university, in-state students have to pay $15,561 while out-of-state pay $27,038.
Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School is a cheap option for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The annual tuition for members is only $12,310, while non-members will have to pay $24,620. Founded in 1973, the J. Reuben Clark Law School is one of the nation’s leading schools of law.
The school boasts programs in social change, transactional design, entrepreneurship, and many more fields. As a religion-affiliated school, the curriculum also covers morality and devotion.
Founded in 1949, the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s College of Law offers full-time day and part-time evening programs with a traditional curriculum combined with practical experience.
In-state ($14,132) and out-of-state ($34,035) tuition are among the lowest in Florida and the nation. Additionally, all admitted students are automatically considered for any scholarship.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Wiliam H. Bowen School of Law has a tuition that is half of what most law schools charge. The university offers full-time day and part-time evening programs. Additionally, the faculty has a close relationship with Little Rock’s bench and bar. With one of the lowest student-faculty ratios in the country, students have the opportunity to work closely with experienced scholars.
Limit your student debt by enrolling at Georgia State University. The university’s College of Law is ideal for in-state students, with annual tuition at just $16,858. The school is among the top ten in the nation when it comes to starting salaries exceeding student debt. GSU graduates usually make $9,700 over the national average salary, which means student loan debt can be quickly paid off.
Located in downtown Atlanta, the university is also top-ranked for diversity. It is the only school in Georgia on the Top 25 National Law Schools for Black Students list by National Jurist magazine.
The mission of the University of Iowa’s College of Law is to serve the people, the nation, and the world by providing superior legal education. The curriculum covers theory and practical education and has the students engage in leading legal research. The faculty at the College of Law are experts in their field and have an open-door policy. The annual in-state tuition for the University of Iowa is $24,930. All J.D. students qualify for in-state tuition in their second and third years thanks to the Research Assistant program. This law school has earned the National Jurist’s Best Value distinction for the past five years.
The University of Houston’s Law Center, located in one of the nation’s top legal markets, has been described as offering some of the best value in legal education. The average in-state tuition is $30,401. Because the starting salaries are $28,450 over the national average, 35 percent of graduates leave with no student debt.
Programs at the Law Center are ranked among the top 10 in the nation by the US News and World Report. Published on this site you will find the Center for Children; Law & Policy; Criminal Justice Institute; and the Environment, Energy, & Natural Resource Center programs, to name a few.
Other prestigious law schools without a hefty price tag include the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Southern University; and the University of Texas at Austin.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s in-state tuition is $16,078, while out-of-state tuition is $36,918. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s in-state tuition is $16,188, while out-of-state will cost you around $36,350. At Southern University, in-state students pay $16,490, and out-of-state pay $29,090. Finally, the University of Texas at Austin is on the higher-end, with in-state students paying $33,995.
Choosing a Cheap Law School
Experts advise researching each school’s starting salary, employment rates, and the bar passing rate. These are especially important to consider when the university is regarded as a “good deal.” It is also advisable to attend the program as an in-state student, as rates are considerably lower. Another factor to consider is whether you want to work in the public or private sector. It should be noted that jobs at large corporate law firms are tough to obtain. Nonprofit organizations pay much less than companies in the private sector.
Loan assistance and scholarships are another option to consider to make law school a feasible investment. Additionally, Career Karma is an excellent resource for those who wish to make their law school investment as cheap and high quality as possible.