Most Expensive Law Schools in 2017

By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 22, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Did you ever want something really expensive, you just had to have it no matter how much it cost?

Like buying a new car, you bit the bullet, made the first payment and drove off without looking back. It didn't matter how much it actually cost -- interest payments, depreciation, taxes, fees, or whatever.

Now consider a purchase that cost between $100,000 and $250,000. Unless you are independently wealthy or have a full-ride scholarship, maybe you should slow down a little on this decision.

This is about law school and how much you are prepared to spend. Buckle up, Dorothy, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Most Expensive Law Schools

New York University, according to data analyzed by Forbes, has the most expensive law school this year. NYU students, on average, will owe $261,548 by the time they get out of there. That's a monthly payment of $2,910 on a 10-year finance plan.

Columbia University ranks second, with an average debt of $261,212 per student. Like NYU, this debt assumes the student will receive the $20,000 discount. Just think, you could buy a car with the savings!

University of Chicago offers the same discount, and costs about the same -- $261,190 of debt at $2,906 in monthly payments over 10 years. Not to beat a dead horse with a car analogy, but that's enough to buy a new Ferrari.

Remember, these are averages. After cost-of-living expenses and without discounts, law school could cost much more. If you need help with the student debt math, Law School Transparency offers an online calculator.

What Can You Afford?

If you have the good fortune to be admitted to an elite school -- and assuming you don't have a fortune to pay for the education before graduation -- it helps to know that they usually have excellent job placement reports.

About 87% of NYU graduates found jobs in 2015, and about the same number for Columbia. Chicago grads fared a little better with almost 91% finding jobs. With Biglaw starting salaries of $180,000 for new associates and bonuses to boot, you might actually be able to make the payments.

If you fall into the average for all law school graduates, however, your student loan debt will be about $84,000 at a public school and about $122,000 at a private institution. That doesn't mean you are an average student; it means you chose a less expensive school.

But whatever school you choose, remember to add housing, food, utilities and other costs to your student loan payments. In other words, you may not be able to afford that new car for a while.

Maybe a used BMW? They have a better resale value than a Porsche, and are less expensive to maintain. 

Or you could go to work in the country and drive a pick-up. Seriously, you might like Kansas.

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